Verdict expected Friday in Recinos sexual assault trial

Former Igloolik mayor denies woman’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her

A Nunavut judge found former Igloolik mayor Merlyn Recinos not guilty of sexual assault in a verdict handed down Friday. (File photo)

By Jorge Antunes

Crown and defence lawyers made their final arguments Thursday on the third day of the sexual assault trial of former Igloolik mayor Merlyn Recinos.

Recinos is charged with sexual assault in connection with events alleged to have occurred in his home early on March 13, 2021. Recinos has pleaded not guilty.

A woman, whose name is protected by court order, accused Recinos of sexually assaulting her that morning, following an overnight party at Recinos’s home that included heavy drinking.

Justice Christian Lyons is expected to render his decision in the case Friday morning. The trial is being held at the Igloolik community hall.

In her closing statement, defence lawyer Alison Crowe said “many of the participants in the events at the Recinos home … were extremely drunk” and “many reported blackouts,” including Recinos, his wife Rhoda, and the female complainant.

Crowe called into question the woman’s memory of the events leading up to and during an argument with her boyfriend at the Recinos’ home. In her testimony, the woman said she blacked out several times throughout the evening.

“Due to the level of intoxication of almost all the people involved, and in particular the main actors, there is very little reliable evidence on which to base a conviction,” Crowe said.

She noted the complainant was angry with her boyfriend and a physical argument ensued during his second visit to pick her up from the home.

Rhoda Recinos testified that she kicked the man out of her home to protect the complainant.

During the trial, an RCMP forensic DNA analyst testified Recinos’s DNA and semen were found on one of three samples taken from the complainant’s underwear at a health centre several hours after the alleged assault.

His DNA was also found at two other sample locations on the underwear, court was told. Crowe said the DNA evidence is reliable.

“The DNA supports an intimate encounter, and it is also consistent with an incident possibly happening in the washroom,” she said.

Crowe claimed the woman needed an explanation of her state and because her clothes were in disarray: “So the submission of the defence is she accused Recinos of sexual assault.”

Crowe also pointed to a statement from a former co-worker of the complainant, who said she spoke to the complainant after the alleged assault.

“[The woman] admitted she didn’t know if she was sexually assaulted or even if she had sex with Meryln because of her blackout state,” Crowe paraphrased from a signed affidavit provided by the woman’s co-worker one year after the alleged incident.

In his closing statement, Crown prosecutor Abel Dion noted Rhoda Recinos maintained she went to bed with her husband sleeping beside her around 4 a.m. on March 13.

Merlyn Recinos, he said, was blackout drunk, “he is not in a position to provide any explanation as to how this sexual encounter went down and we know for sure that there was sexual interaction.”

Dion noted that after Rhoda Recinos had gone to bed, the woman knocked on the couple’s bedroom door.

“Rhoda told [the woman] to leave, but didn’t get out of bed to make sure that [the woman] actually left the house. And so I would submit that it is very likely that it is at this moment after Rhoda fell asleep that Merlyn got out of bed,” Dion said.

“The woman was still in the living room, and it is at this very moment that the assault occurred.”

Dion also noted the discovery of the DNA evidence matched the complainant’s description of her alleged assault.

Dion noted the woman had a “partial blackout” with moments of lucidity which she remembered in explicit detail, including the alleged sexual assault.

“The only person that can explain what happened really is the complainant,” Dion said. “She provided a detailed critical account of the sexual assault.”

Dion also noted that given the woman’s intoxicated state, she was in no state to consent.



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