(Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Trial begins for man accused in 2016 Whitehorse sexual assault

Dion Roberts, 30, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a night out

A trial for a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her Whitehorse home in 2016 began April 24.

Dion Roberts, 30, is charged with one count of sexual assault in relation to an alleged incident that took place early in the morning of Feb. 9, 2016. At question is not whether sexual contact occurred — according to an agreed statement of facts, Roberts admits to having sex with the woman — but whether she consented to it.

The woman’s name is protected under a publication ban.

In his opening statement to the 12-person jury, Crown attorney Paul Battin said the case starts with the young woman going out to play pool with friends and then to a bar.

“The facts are not complicated,” he said.

The woman ran into Roberts at the bar, Battin continued, and invited him back to her home to “socialize” before she went to bed alone.

However, the woman woke up and found Roberts in her bed, Battin said, and he allegedly sexually assaulted her. Afterwards, the woman went to one of her roommates, who kicked Roberts out of the house, and then to hospital where she had a rape kit done, Battin said. The woman later reported the incident to the police.

Battin reminded the jury that the trial was not about whether the woman drank too much or if she should have invited Roberts back to her home. Instead, the important part is whether the woman consented to sexual activity, he said, and the Crown will show she did not.

The Crown’s first witness was RCMP Const. Trudy Pike, who testified via video call that the woman came into the Whitehorse RCMP detachment on March 13, 2016, requesting to speak to a female member to report a sexual assault. Pike interviewed her the same day.

“She was very clear in her statement.… It was clear she was emotionally affected by the circumstances,” Pike said in response to questions from Crown attorney Amy Porteous.

Based on the woman’s statement, Pike said she had the grounds to arrest and charge Roberts with sexual assault. She phoned him March 14, 2016, and he surrendered himself at the detachment the same day.

Upon Roberts’ request, Pike said she attempted to contact the on-call lawyer with Legal Aid, but when he didn’t answer, Roberts agreed to proceed with an interview anyway.

Roberts appeared “quite calm” and was “engaged” throughout the roughly 45-minute interview, Pike testified, and, after being fingerprinted and photographed, was released with a promise to appear in court.

The jury also heard from the woman’s roommate who kicked Roberts out of the house.

The roommate testified that she had gone out to play pool with the woman and their other roommate but went home early because she worked the next morning.

The roommate said that she heard them arriving home around 2:30 a.m., and was awoken when Roberts came into her room twice. She kicked him out of her room both times after he said he had gotten the wrong person.

Shortly after Roberts’ second visit, the roommate said she went to take a shower and returned to her bedroom to find the woman lying in the fetal position on her bed, crying.

The roommate said she went the woman’s bedroom, where she found Roberts and kicked him out of he house. Roberts seemed confused about why she was kicking him out but was otherwise coherent, she testified.

Cross-examined by defence lawyers Benjamin Bruce Warnsby and Mark Reynolds, the roommate confirmed that she had smelt alcohol on Roberts that night despite her statement to police that he didn’t smell of anything.

She also said that she was not worried by the presence of a strange man in the house as it wasn’t unusual for her roommates to bring someone home from the bar. The roommate said that at the time, she viewed Roberts as more of a nuisance than a threat.

The court heard briefly from the woman before proceedings ended for the day. She is expected to continue her testimony the morning of April 25.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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