Top News

Trial of Max Vivian, accused of sexual assault causing bodily harm, gets underway in St. John's

Max Vivian’s trial began Monday in St. John’s. - File photo

'The evidence in this trial is about a woman's right to say no,' Crown says

Warning: some of the details in this news story may be upsetting to some readers.

Crown prosecutor Alanna Dwyer got straight to her point when she began her opening submissions to a jury in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Monday afternoon.

"The evidence in this trial is about a woman's right to say no," Dwyer said. "It's about a woman's right to say no at any time, regardless of prior consensual sexual contact."

Dwyer is prosecuting Max Vivian, who has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a woman, causing her bodily harm in September 2015.

Vivian chose a jury trial, and the 12 jurors were selected Monday morning.

Dwyer told the jury she would call a number of witnesses over the next few days, including RCMP and RNC officers, nurses and the complainant.

"Throughout the trial I ask you to pay close attention to the witnesses while they testify," Dwyer said. "Consider what they say, but also pay attention to their demeanour and their body language."

Dwyer gave a summary of the evidence, explaining she was basing it on police information. Vivian and the woman had known each other previously and had reconnected online, Dwyer said, and the woman had travelled to Vivian's St. John's apartment with the goal of meeting him and having sex.

The pair had consensual sexual activity, Dwyer said, before Vivian became increasingly aggressive, grabbing the woman and biting her on different body parts. The woman asked Vivian to stop, Dwyer said, but he didn't.

"He also grabbed (the woman) by the back of her hair and forced her head towards his penis so she would perform oral sex on him," Dwyer said, adding that when he wouldn't stop despite the woman's protests, the woman bit his penis.

Vivian then forced the woman into his bedroom and sexually assaulted her by having intercourse with her even though she asked him to stop and cried, Dwyer told the jurors. He then left the apartment, and the woman called for a taxi to take her home. She later went to the hospital, where nurses conducted a sexual assault exam, noting lacerations and bruising on the woman's breasts, and provided a statement to police.

Dwyer called her first witness, RCMP Const. Sarah Bass, to the stand.

Bass testified she had responded to a report of a sexual assault from medical staff at the hospital in Clarenville, and took two photos of the woman's bruised breast and neck as well as her statement.

On cross-examination, defence lawyer Mike King questioned Bass on her lack of training in forensic photography, why she took photos of only one breast and didn't use a scale for measurement, and whether or not she had compared the printed photos to the digital versions.

"Did you compare the paper to what you saw on the screen? Would you agree that the lighting could be off in the printed photos?"

"It could be, I don't know. I didn't compare," Bass replied.

The woman began her testimony Monday afternoon, but broke down with emotion and requested a recess.

Vivian's trial will continue this morning.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Recent Stories