Woman who accused Merlyn Recinos of sexual assault testifies

Former mayor and Igloolik entrepreneur was charged with sexual assault in 2021

The sexual assault trial of former Igloolik mayor Merlyn Recinos, seen in an April 2021 file photo, began Monday in Igoolik, with the woman who accused him testifying. (File photo)

By Jorge Antunes

On Monday, the woman who accused former Igloolik mayor Merlyn Recinos testified about what she said happened to her more than two years ago at his home.

Testifying on the first day of Recinos’s sexual assault trial, she said that in the early hours of Mar. 13, 2021, Recinos sexually assaulted her.

The woman, whose identity cannot be published due to a court-ordered ban, was the first witness in the trial that began Monday. Recinos was charged with sexual assault in June 2021. He resigned that post later that year.

She described waking up to a naked Recinos, who was wearing only a polar bear claw necklace, as he attempted to remove her pants.

“I tried stopping him, I tried pushing him away, I couldn’t. That is when he started penetrating my behind,” she said in English. She spoke mostly in Inuktitut on the witness stand, telling her story in the morning and answering questions from Recinos’s lawyer in the afternoon.

The woman said that earlier in the evening she and a friend had been drinking whiskey and would later attend a dance at the community hall.

Later, the pair made their way to Recinos’s home where he and his wife were with two others.

Later, the victim’s boyfriend arrived and an argument ensued resulting in her boyfriend leaving without her.

The woman testified that throughout the evening, Recinos made advances towards her and tried to dance with her. She avoided him because he “gave her the creeps,” she said in Inuktitut.

Later, after all the guests had gone and Recinos’s wife had gone to bed, she tried to leave, she said, but Recinos blocked the door and wouldn’t let her go. She gave up, sat on the couch and “blacked out.”

Throughout her testimony, she said there were gaps in her memory and she had blacked out several times during the evening.

Crown prosecutor Abel Dion asked her multiple times about the sexual assault, including if she had wanted to have sex with Recinos.

“For the record, the witness is not immediately answering because she is emotional,” Abel said after the first time he asked.

“I did not want to have sex with him at all,” she said in Inuktitut.

Defence lawyer Alison Crowe used her cross examination to question the woman’s memory of the events.

If she had felt uncomfortable, then why did she stay instead of taking opportunities to leave, Crowe asked.

The defence also asked the woman about conversations she had with a friend soon after the incident, in which, according to the defence, she  told the friend she was afraid and didn’t know what to do and wasn’t even sure if she had had sex or had been sexually assaulted.

The woman said multiple times she did not remember that conversation with her friend

“How many times do I have to tell you, I don’t remember what was said,” the woman said.

Crowe began to paint a picture. She noted that up until now, no one had questioned her story. The RCMP and health centre staff had believed her and encouraged her as she reported what happened.

The defence asked the woman repeatedly if she was afraid of her boyfriend.

“I’m not afraid of him,” she said.

Monday was the first day of testimony in a trial that is expected to last two weeks.


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