Trial opens for North Vancouver youth accused of violent assault

Trial will turn on credibility, says defence lawyer

As a trial opened in a downtown youth court Tuesday, a Vancouver police officer described how she arrived at Encore Dance Club on a night in February 2016 to find a teenaged girl “shaking and crying hysterically” in the women’s washroom.

The officer, who was called to the club after 11 p.m. that night, was the first witness to take the stand at the trial of a 17-year-old North Vancouver teen who is charged with aggravated sexual assault and unlawful confinement of a North Vancouver teenaged girl at an unsanctioned grad party held at the nightclub.

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The youth, who was 16 at the time, also faces a charge of sexual assault of another teen girl in October 2015 in North Vancouver.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In court this week, the girl, testifying behind a screen, told the judge she never dated the accused, although he was an acquaintance. On the evening in February 2016, the girl – who was 17 at the time – went to the downtown grad party, attended by students from several North Vancouver high schools, with a group of female friends.

The girl testified when she arrived at the nightclub, she got separated from her friends. That’s when the accused called her over to sit on a sofa. “He kept trying to kiss me. I did ask him to stop,” she said. She said she kissed him back, hoping that would end his advances. “I was really uncomfortable.”

The girl said the accused led her toward the women’s washroom and past the security guard outside. “I was scared,” she said.

She said the teen shoved her into the largest washroom stall and locked the door. “I felt really trapped,” she said.

The girl was expected to continue giving testimony and answering questions under cross-examination in court the remainder of the week.

In her opening statements to the judge, Crown prosecutor Dawn Boblin described what is alleged to have happened next. Boblin said once inside the stall, the accused pulled the girl’s clothes off and sexually assaulted her in a “forceful and aggressive” manner. Boblin said the girl was crying and “very scared throughout the assault.”

Several friends found the girl in the stall immediately after. Soon after police arrived, the girl was taken to hospital by ambulance.

A second police officer who attended the nightclub found the accused inside the men’s washroom, washing his shoes, said Boblin. He had no shirt on, said the prosecutor. He was arrested at the scene.

Boblin said during the trial the judge will also hear testimony from another teenaged girl about an incident in October 2015, who will describe how the accused overpowered her and forced sexual activity on her on the lawn outside his home.

The trial is set to take place over three weeks and is expected to focus on whether the teenaged girls consented to the sex.

Defence lawyer Brock Martland told the judge at the beginning of the trial the accused does not deny he had sexual contact with each of the girls on the nights in question.

“There will be controversy or disagreement on what occurred,” he said.

Martland said the defence will include “difficult questions” about the credibility and reliability of witnesses.

A number of North Vancouver teens who attended the party at the nightclub are expected to testify later in the trial.

The identities of the accused, complainants and witnesses in the trial are all shielded by a publication ban.

Judge Paul Meyers is hearing the trial without a jury.

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