TORONTO — Three Toronto police officers have been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a female colleague on a night of heavy drinking after an Ontario judge said the woman’s testimony was “fraught with problems.”
Justice Anne Molloy told a Toronto court Wednesday she “looked in vain for corroboration” of the woman’s version of events on Jan. 17, 2015, but couldn’t find any evidence to support her account.
Leslie Nyznik, Joshua Cabero and Sameer Kara had pleaded not guilty to a charge each of sexual assault. All three hugged supporters after the verdict was handed down. The complainant was not in court.
Nyznik, the only accused to testify, said during the trial that it was the female colleague’s idea to return to a hotel room rented out by two of the accused where she instigated sex with all three men.
The woman — a parking enforcement officer whose identity is protected by a publication ban — had testified she had several drinks during the course of the night and was unable to stop the men from having sex with her.
“I was powerless, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t stop what was happening,” she testified.
The judge said the case came down to the reliability and credibility of the woman, which she found lacking. There were many problems with the complainant’s evidence, Molloy said, finding some aspects ”simply untrue.”
“Given frailties of evidence I simply cannot be sure to make a finding of criminal guilt,” she said.
Molloy said, however, that she didn’t necessarily believe Nyznik’s testimony, which ”appeared to be scripted or rehearsed” and rang false at times. But the judge said she could not reject it as untruthful.
Nyznik’s lawyer said outside court that his client looks forward to having his life back and going back to work.
“Mr. Nyznik is very happy to finally have this process behind him,” Harry Black said. “He took the stand and he faced the allegations and he has answered them and he is now vindicated.”
During trial, court heard Kara had invited the complainant to join in on a “rookie buy night” where rookie officers buy drinks for the veterans. The two, who worked out of the same division, had become friends, court heard.
Kara and Nyznik booked a room at the Westin Harbour Castle that day and began drinking there that afternoon, court heard.
Around 6 p.m., the three men went to CC Lounge and Whisky Bar with other officers, court heard. Shortly before 9 p.m., the female parking officer arrived at the bar. She wasn’t there long before the group moved to the nearby Pravda Vodka Bar.
Court heard Kara was so drunk he had to be helped back to the hotel room around 10 p.m.
The woman and Nyznik told court differing accounts of what happened after.
The woman testified she walked with one of the accused to the Brass Rail, a strip club. She later conceded under cross examination she took a cab, blaming her memory lapses on intoxication. A police officer, who was with the accused and the woman, later told the court the group hailed a cab to the strip club.
Around midnight, the woman ended up in a hotel room with the trio, periodically blacking out, she told the court. She testified she was at the whim of the three officers, all constables in a downtown Toronto division, who took turns having sex with her against her wishes.
She testified that she believed she had been drugged, but she said she didn’t know when, where, how or by whom. The judge didn’t buy her version of events, comparing it to security video obtained from several bars and a downtown hotel.
“Her evidence as to the symptoms she was experiencing is inconsistent with the objective video footage,” Molloy said. The judge also said the woman’s testimony that she was drugged was not plausible.
Nyznik, meanwhile, said on the stand that the woman didn’t appear intoxicated during the night and instigated sex and oral sex with the officers at the hotel room.
He said the woman surprised them when she entered the cab that was to take Nyznik and Cabero back to the hotel where Kara was sleeping.