Advertisement

Decision in Matthew Percy sexual assault trial adjourned until next week

Complainant takes the stand at sexual assault trial of former SMU groundskeeper
WATCH (Feb. 18, 2020): The trial of a former Saint Mary’s University groundskeeper accused of sexually assaulting a Dalhousie University student in December 2014 began on Tuesday.

Warning: This article contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.

A decision in the sexual assault trial of Matthew Albert Percy has been delayed until next week.

The decision was originally scheduled to be handed down on April 15, but as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it has repeatedly been delayed.

The decision will now be handed down on July 24 at 2 p.m. in order to allow defence lawyer Peter Planetta to attend the decision in person.

Read more: Judge reserves decision in Matthew Percy's sexual assault trial

The former Saint Mary’s University groundskeeper is accused of sexually assaulting a then-19-year-old woman at a Dalhousie University residence on Dec. 6, 2014.

Story continues below advertisement

Percy has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm, and the trial is being heard by a judge alone in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

The complainant’s identity is protected by a publication ban.

During the trial, she testified to meeting Percy after partying at Cheers, a bar that existed at the time in The Dome, a multi-level nightclub in downtown Halifax.

She said Percy invited her to get poutine at a nearby takeout restaurant, only for them to stop at the nearby Toothy Moose bar for a drink before getting the food.

Complainant takes the stand at sexual assault trial of former SMU groundskeeper
Complainant takes the stand at sexual assault trial of former SMU groundskeeper

The complainant testified that she did not remember the trip but that the pair eventually ended up at her Dalhousie residence on LeMarchant Street.

Story continues below advertisement

She has alleged that Percy assaulted her multiple times, in both her bedroom and the nearby washroom, leaving her with bite marks on her neck and painful bruises on her rear that left her unable to sit down for days.

The complainant testified that she “clearly told Percy no” as he violently initiated anal sex.

It’s contrasted with the videotaped police interview with Percy, recorded only days after the incident.

Read more: Matthew Percy describes alleged Saint Mary’s University sexual assault in police interview

Percy portrayed the evening as passionate but rough sex between two consenting individuals.

He admitted to not using a condom but said that he noticed scratch marks and injuries on the complainant’s rear that he compared to having “slid on turf” before they moved to the washroom.

He said he asked the complainant how she got them, to which she replied: “You did that to me.”

SMU groundskeeper sentenced for sexually assaulting woman in dorm room
SMU groundskeeper sentenced for sexually assaulting woman in dorm room

Percy described the complainant as initially resistant to having anal sex before she ultimately said yes.

Story continues below advertisement

“I never meant to hurt her and I just wanted to have a good time and release some stress,” Percy said in the video.

In closing arguments, Crown attorney Rick Woodburn said that the clear “no” from the complainant during the incident of anal sex should have ended the sexual relationship that night.

Instead, Percy proceeded to have anal sex with her, Woodburn said.

“This was about Matthew Percy, not the wishes (of the complainant),” said Woodburn, who pointed to Percy’s police statement as validating that he heard a no when he initially inquired about anal sex.

Read more: Defence, Crown present closing arguments at sexual assault trial of Matthew Percy

The Crown attorney said it was only Percy that says he heard a “yes” before initiating anal sex and that there was no indication of any preparation for anal sex such as the use of lubricant.

“Whatever made him think that he could continue to beg until he received (anal sex)… that should stop things right there,” said Woodburn.

Throughout Woodburn’s closing arguments, Percy shook his head as he sat at the defence table.

Planetta stressed multiple times throughout his closing arguments that gaps in the memory of the complainant should leave reasonable doubt about whether his client acted without consent.

Story continues below advertisement

Planetta argued that Judge Joshua Arnold must weigh both Percy’s and the complainant’s testimony equally but that there are issues and inconsistencies with her version of events.

The defence lawyer argued that the gaps in the complainant’s memory meant she couldn’t deny that something had or not happened — including her consent to sexual activity.

Planetta argued that if the complainant eventually agreed to have anal sex after saying “no” then the case law points to consent being given.

He told media at the time that his client was acting on the “honest belief” that consent had been provided to him. 

Former SMU groundskeeper found not guilty of sexual assault
Former SMU groundskeeper found not guilty of sexual assault

Percy’s case before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court is his third sexual assault trial. The first two incidents occurred in September 2017 and involved Saint Mary’s University students.

Story continues below advertisement

The former groundskeeper was found guilty of sexual assault and voyeurism in one trial but was acquitted on charges of sexual assault, choking to overcome resistance and voyeurism in the other.

Percy has already served a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence. He has been denied bail while awaiting trial on this charge and another case scheduled for trial this year.