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Witness testimony in question in Windsor sexual assault case

Questions regarding the reliability of witness statements often come up in sexual assault cases, especially if it is believed that alcohol or drugs may have clouded the witness' memory. The veracity of witness testimony can also be compromised if the court hears that the witness has ulterior motives for making statements against the accused.

All of these issues are likely to be addressed in a trial currently underway in Windsor. A former Windsor Spitfire has been accused of sexually assaulting a young woman in the bathroom of a pub. Specifically, the 20-year-old man is accused of entering a stall in the men's washroom, which the young woman was using, and forcing the woman to touch his penis. Accounts of the incident have been conflicting, however.

The woman, also in her early 20s, did not report the washroom incident to police until months later. When she did, she told police that she was in the washroom stall by herself. She apparently made this statement three times but later said that her girlfriend was also in the stall just prior to the young man's entering.

The woman acknowledged in court that she had consumed four to five drinks on the night in question, and she claimed that her recollection improved over time. "After a while, memories came back to me," she said.

The complainant's brother was also at the pub that night, and he and the accused were involved in an altercation. The brother apparently punched the former Spitfire in the face. It was revealed in court that, on the night of the washroom incident, the brother had snorted half a gram of cocaine, and the defence called into question the accuracy of the brother's memory.

An article in The Windsor Star noted that the admissibility of witness testimony was still uncertain. Ontario residents may want to follow this trial as it progresses.

Source: The Windsor Star, "Court hears sexual assault allegations against former Windsor Spitfire," Craig Pearson, Sept. 29, 2014

Source: The Windsor Star, "Former Spits' player punched in face by alleged victim's angry brother, court hears," Sarah Sacheli, Sept. 30, 2014