Ruling expected on admissibility of police evidence at sex assault trial

A judge is expected to rule today on whether certain evidence collected by police investigating an violent sexual assault can be admitted in the accused man’s trial.

A judge is expected to rule today on whether certain evidence collected by police investigating an violent sexual assault can be admitted in the accused man’s trial.

Police allege that a Red Deer prostitute was held against her will and badly beaten on June 4, 2012, by a man who wanted to live out a rape fantasy. The woman’s name is withheld under Canadian law banning publication of the identity of victims of sexual assault.

Nathan Michael Desharnais, 25, is on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Edmonton-based Justice Adam Germain on charges of aggravated sex assault, forcible confinement and choking with intent to overcome resistance.

Police were called by staff at Lacombe Hospital after the woman’s daughter brought her in for medical treatment.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, the alleged victim became combative with defence counsel Arnold Piragoff.

He questioned her about her criminal record and whether she had ever accepted drugs for sex.

She said her only criminal record is for impaired driving and she had never been convicted of any other offences.

She confirmed that, after the beating, she drove Desharnais to a bank so he could get money to pay her but he was unable to get the cash. She testified that she was happy to get away from him and had not decided at that point whether to call police.

“The man tried to kill me. I didn’t care if I got paid or not. I was just happy to be alive, thank you very much.”

She confirmed for Piragoff that she made a statement to police, but had never read it and doesn’t remember its contents.

“I don’t need to remember the horse—t that happened,” she said. “I do recall that I gave a statement to police. I said the truth, I know that.”

The trial then moved into a voir dire, or trial within a trial, to examine police evidence, including an account of the arrest and audio recordings taken afterward.

Germain is to decide if any of the evidence is to be excluded from the trial proper, including allegations of confessions Desharnais made during the course of the investigation.

Desharnais has been in custody since his arrest on June 5, 2012.

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