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Of four Nunavik men charged with assault, only one sent to jail, due to conflicting evidence

Sex in public isn't always assault, cops reminded

By JANE GEORGE

KUUJJUAQ – The defence lawyer was ready to call a witness who would say he saw the accused and the complainant kissing on the evening of the alleged sexual assault, when Judge Daniel Bédard intervened in the Kuujjuaaq courtroom, saying "enough is enough."

Bédard said he didn't want or need to hear any more evidence in this sexual assault trial: he had already made up his mind of what his judgment would be. With the lawyers' consent, Bédard cut straight to the verdict.

On March 29, after a one-hour trial, Bédard acquitted Simeonie Sequaluk of Kuujjuaq on a sexual assault charge dating from last spring.

Bédard said had to acquit Sequaluk because he had presented the facts in a consistent and believable form.

"So he is acquitted," Bédard told the court.

Sequaluk had been charged with sexual assault on a woman so intoxicated that she did not realize she was having sexual intercourse in the corridor of a Kuujjuaq apartment building at 1 a.m. when police happened by.

"If you see two people having sex on the floor, it doesn't have to be a sexual aggression," Bédard said.

In his judgment, Bédard said police may have thought they saw a sexual assault in progress when they came on the pair having sex, but there was no proof this was the case. That's because the complainant said she couldn't remember anything after 6 p.m. on the night the sexual assault allegedly occurred.

Sequaluk maintained the sex was consensual. He told the court he and the woman had been "flirting around" and kissing at a party earlier. They had gone downstairs to have sex at a friend's apartment, but when they discovered the apartment door locked, they had ended up on the floor outside.

Police told the court they found a man and a woman having sex in the corridor of a Kuujjuaq apartment building. The man was naked from the waist down, rocking on top of a woman who was also naked from the waist down.

When interrupted by police, the man told them he wasn't doing anything wrong. Police woke up the woman. She didn't realize her pants were down, police said, and appeared to be heavily intoxicated.

The complainant, about 20, also testified, saying she had been drinking a lot at a party, which started in mid-afternoon, and that she couldn't recall what happened after 6 p.m. She said she didn't know the accused well.

But in cross-examination, the defense lawyer suggested she did know the man's sister and had even slept over at the accused man's home two months after the alleged sexual assault. The woman left the courtroom in tears.

Three other Nunavik men were also tried on March 29 for assaulting women during drinking bouts.

Of the men charged in these cases, only one went to jail. That's because the evidence presented in court backed up the charges.

Thomassie Snowball was acquitted of spousal assault because his wife maintained that police had got the details wrong – she had actually told them, she said, that another man had struck her while trying to break up a fight.

And another man also accused of spousal assault was acquitted because it was unclear to the judge just who had started a fight – the slightly-built man or his stocky wife.

But while these two left court free men, Joanassie Kaitak of Kangiqsujuaq was found guilty of domestic violence.

Bédard sentenced Kaitak to jail despite the pleas of his wife that he was a good father and family provider. She begged Bédard not to send her husband off to jail as her husband sat in shackles in the prisoner‘s box, listening to her, with his head bowed.

But Bédard was not convinced by what the woman said. Other evidence presented in court showed Kaitak had, on at least three or four different occasions dating back five years, shaken this woman, hit her, thrown her into a wall and dragged her around.

At the time of the most recent violent incident, Kaitak was serving a conditional sentence for a previous assault.

Bédard revoked that sentence and gave Kaitak another six-month sentence. In his judgment, Bédard said the need to protect the woman was the most important issue at stake, particularly in light of repeated violent incidents.

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