Sexual assault trial stirs emotions

Witness testifies she saw man standing with pants unzipped over young girl



An emotional two-day sexual assault trial involving a two-year-old girl began Feb. 18 before Justice Robert Kilpatrick in Nunavut Court of Justice.

The accused, Charlie Taqtaq, 38, faces one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference dating back to Aug. 13, 2000.

The first and only witness before the court in Iqaluit this week was a woman who said she found Taqtaq in her living room, standing with his pants unzipped over the half-naked girl.

“There was no sound coming from her. She was just staring at him,” the witness said of the child, who is now four years old.

The witness told the court she was shocked by the alleged incident and took the child to a friend’s house and called the crisis line.

At one point the witness turned to the accused, tears streaming down her face, and said, “I really want to hurt you Charlie when I think about [the incident].”

Taqtaq sat quietly during the two-day trial.

The witness initially refused to answer Crown counsel Doug Johnson’s questioning about what the accused may or may not have been doing to the child. She said didn’t want to speak of the incident until her daughter was able to talk about it. After receiving independent legal counsel, she provided a more detailed testimony but claimed she could not remember many things.

Defense counsel Sue Cooper suggested the witness didn’t want the police involved because she was under a court order not to drink. Taqtaq was under a similar court order. The incident followed a five-day drinking binge.

Since the charges were laid in August 2000, four different Crown counsel representatives have been assigned to the case, and the matter has been adjourned ten times.

The trial got off to a rough start when one interpreter was let go by the court and another withdrew because of problems understanding the witness’s Hall Beach-Igloolik Inuktitut dialect.

A third interpreter broke into tears on the second day of court, apparently upset by the detailed questioning and sensitive subject matter.

Justice Kilpatrick reassured the teary interpreter.

“[Interpreting] is a tremendously challenging job at the best of times, but even more so when it involves emotional issues,” he said.

The trial continues on May 22. Three witnesses, including two police officers, are expected to testify.

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