Desharnais guilty of sex assault
A Red Deer man faces a jail sentence for fulfilling a violent rape fantasy at the expense of a self-described sex worker who was badly bruised and lost consciousness several times during the ordeal.
Nathan Michael Desharnais, 25, was convicted on Thursday afternoon of two counts of aggravated sexual assault, one for endangering the life of the victim, and unlawful confinement.
He was tried in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Adam Germain.
In his closing arguments, Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard said the violent sex assault was not consensual, pointing to the fact Desharnais used duct tape, not “fluffy handcuffs and silk tassels.”
Rather, the victim became an unwilling participant in one man’s violent rape fantasy when she was bound, gagged, choked and raped, he said.
Desharnais and the woman, who can’t be named because of a court-ordered publication ban protecting the identity of sexual assault victims, had consensual sex twice before the June 4, 2012, incident.
They met through Craigslist, an online website.
The woman had posted an ad on the site and agreed to sex in exchange for $150.
The charges were laid after the woman was grabbed by the arms while trying to leave and forced down. Desharnais held her face down on a pillow, put his knee in her back and tied her hands. Then he turned her over and started choking her. As the woman lost and regained consciousness, she found duct tape covering her mouth. When it began to come off, Desharnais wrapped the tape around her head from her chin to her nose, all the while sexually assaulting her.
When she came to and Desharnais was finished, the woman said he told her “I just wanted to know what it feels like to rape somebody.”
Collard outlined how the victim gave reliable testimony, saying she was unshaken in light of a probative cross-examination.
As well, Collard questioned the reliability of Desharnais’ statement to police. Video of his interrogation was presented at the trial and Collard outline inconsistencies, including when he said the victim’s hands were free the whole time. But when presented with the fact DNA evidence could be taken from the duct tape police found during a search of his residence, he retreated and became evasive. First he said no binding had happened, then said he tied her arms in front of the victim and later said he tied her arms behind her back.
Defence counsel Arnold Piragoff started the day by calling his only witness, Desharnais’ roommate, Vilmie Neponuceno. At the time, Neponuceno was living in one of three bedrooms in one of the units of a four-plex in Glendale. The other two rooms were rented to another man who had left a couple of weeks prior to the incident and to Desharnais and his mother.
Neponuceno testified that on the evening of June 3, 2012, she heard laughing and the noise of consensual sex coming from Desharnais’ room, which was adjacent to hers. However, she was not in the residence the following day, when the assault took place.
Germain said Neponuceno’s testimony did not help the defence’s case and only served to corroborate the Crown’s story that consensual sex had taken place on the evening of June 3, 2012.
Piragoff’s statements questioned the credibility of the victim, who agreed to sex twice with Desharnais in exchange for money, but also questioned the lack of medical evidence presented at the trial by the Crown. Pictures of the victim and the injuries she suffered were presented, but no expert evidence was entered.
Germain disagreed with Piragoff, saying the evidence was sufficient to convict Desharnais and that his client’s statement was not believable.
Sentencing arguments will be heard Friday morning in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.