Iqaluit man plied girl with smokes, money before fondling her, accuser says

First day of Robert Sheaves’ sexual assault trial hears from complainant, police investigator

Iqaluit man Robert Sheaves is charged with four counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual interference. On Wednesday, the court reviewed hours of video statements taken from the alleged victim in February and March of 2022. (File photo)

By Jorge Antunes

During the first day of Robert Sheaves’ sexual assault and sexual interference trial Wednesday, the court watched recorded video statements of his accuser, who was then in her mid-teens, describing incidents she said occurred between 2021 and early 2022.

Crown lawyer Jessika Withers played a video statement the complainant made to police on Feb. 24, 2022 in which the complainant described Sheaves’ Iqaluit home as a place where people would go to get free cigarettes, money or alcohol.

The complainant named more than 10 people she said had visited his home. Some were adults, but some were also young women.

A court order prevents publication of the identity of the complainant, who is now in her late teens. The publication ban has been in place since Sheaves was charged in 2022.

When he was arrested, following a search of his home on Feb. 26, 2022, the RCMP described him as a 64-year-old Iqaluit man.

The teen said she would visit Sheaves, sometimes with friends, looking for cigarettes or money. On multiple occasions Sheaves sexually assaulted her during those visits, she said.

On one occasion, Sheaves withheld giving her $25 until he touched her breast, she told police in the video statement.

She also told police a friend had witnessed her being sexually assaulted by Sheaves. And she said Sheaves sexually assaulted her friend.

Another friend, during another visit, witnessed Sheaves sexually assaulting her, she told police.

A large portion of Wednesday afternoon’s testimony was taken up by video statements taken Feb 24, 2022 and March 2, 2022, by RCMP Const. Catherine McLaughlin, a child forensic investigator. She attended Wednesday’s trial by video link.

During multiple visits, the girl described how Sheaves repeatedly asked to touch her breasts.

At times she gave in. Other times, she refused. On at least one occasion, he penetrated her with his fingers and attempted to have sex with her against her will. She described Sheaves’ penis to the police investigator in detail, including its size, colour and smell.

During her Feb 24, 2022 video statement to police, the complainant also said she was tripping out — that she was on drugs.

Sheaves is charged with four counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual interference.

Due to the complainant’s age, the young woman testified at the trial over a video link from a different part of the courthouse. She was accompanied by a Crown witness co-ordinator.

During her February 2022 statement, the complainant had trouble remembering details.

“I don’t want to remember,” she said, adding she thought she had done something wrong.

McLaughlin assured her she hadn’t. She was only a young teen.

The trial continues Thursday at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.

 

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