EDMONTON — A woman who was sexually assaulted by a former nightclub employee says he may not remember her, but she will always remember him.
Matthew McKnight, 33, was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016. He pleaded not guilty, but a jury convicted him in January on five of the 13 counts.
Court heard he met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his Edmonton apartment.
Two of the victims and four family members, including the sister of a third victim, spoke at the start of McKnight’s sentencing hearing in Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday.
One woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, addressed McKnight directly as she read her victim impact statement.
“You sexually assaulted me,” she said through tears.
“For years, I have been terrified of you. You haunt my dreams and dictate my waking moments.”
She said she hasn’t been able to forget the night he attacked her.
“The bruises you left on my skin faded, but the nightmares … will forever be with me.”
Another woman, who also cannot be named, told court about how her life changed four years, two months and 23 days ago.
“I remember walking into a pub with friends … to waking up in a nightmare that I will have to relive for the rest of my life,” she said. “I still cannot get over the thought of having a stranger inside of me, violating my body.
“I did not want to believe what happened to me was real.”
The woman said she was traumatized by the sexual assault and often wouldn’t leave her house to go for groceries or walk her dog.
“I feared there were other men out there just like you,” she said.
The Crown, which said alcohol and “something else” were used in at least three of the offences, is seeking a total sentence of 22 1/2 years for what it calls “drug-facilitated” sexual assaults.
“These are gravely serious offences and Mr. McKnight’s degree of moral responsibility is high,” said prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga in his opening submission.
“He’s a man who has had a privileged upbringing in many ways.”
Huyser-Wierenga said the judge must “denounce and deter” the vile abuse of the five women.
Justice Doreen Sulyma challenged the Crown’s submission that evidence of drugs had been proven in court or accepted by the jury.
“I don’t think there was evidence of drugs, just evidence of blackouts,” she said.
Huyser-Wierenga said one of the woman only had one drink, which she testified was given to her by McKnight before she blacked out.
“She’s come to and she’s in Mr. McKnight’s bed,” the prosecutor said.
The Crown recommended consecutive sentences, which would be served one after another, because each of the five offences was separate. It asked for two terms of four years, one of 4 1/2 years and two at five years.
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos is to give his submissions Thursday.
The hearing, which is to also to get statements from at least two more of the victims, is to run until Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press