Judge re­serves de­ci­sion in sex­ual as­sault case

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

It is now up to a Syd­ney pro­vin­cial court judge to de­cide whether a for­mer in­mate at the Cape Bre­ton Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre was sex­u­ally as­saulted in the shower.

Judge Amy Sakalauskas must de­cide whether an in­mate was sex­u­ally as­saulted dur­ing an eight-sec­ond pe­riod when ac­cused Mor­gan James MacNeil, 26, en­tered the shower naked, jumped on the back of the other in­mate and in­serted his thumb in the in­mate’s anus.

The name of the com­plainant is banned from pub­li­ca­tion.

MacNeil pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing the in­mate who is tran­si­tion­ing from male to fe­male.

The sex­ual as­sault is al­leged to have oc­curred at the fa­cil­ity, lo­cated in Gar­diner Mines, between Aug. 24-25, 2015.

The trial heard from three wit­nesses, the com­plainant, MacNeil and a cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer. The judge has re­served de­ci­sion un­til Nov. 6.

“Not once was there any phys­i­cal con­tact in that shower between me and the com­plainant. None what­so­ever,” tes­ti­fied MacNeil.

Both MacNeil and the com­plainant were be­ing housed in one of three max­i­mum ranges at the fa­cil­ity that fea­ture eight in­di­vid­ual cells and a sin­gle shower. With the ex­cep­tion of the shower, the area is video mon­i­tored.

The video shows MacNeil en­ter­ing the shower, wear­ing only a towel, and then, eight sec­ond later, leav­ing the shower. He ap­pears to be laugh­ing and jok­ing with other in­mates also present.

MacNeil tes­ti­fied that he and the com­plainant got along some­what and that he sug­gested she take a shower.

“Make sure you wash your armpits be­cause they stink,” said MacNeil.

“You should be in here with me be­cause you stink,”’ said MacNeil, in re­count­ing the re­sponse from the com­plainant.

MacNeil said he went into the shower as a joke, told the com­plainant to move over, stuck his head un­der the shower head and then left.

The com­plainant tes­ti­fied pre­vi­ously she never in­vited MacNeil into the shower and that when he did en­ter, he jumped on her back and in­serted his thumb in her anus.

“She was stand­ing there laugh­ing,” said MacNeil, in de­scrib­ing the re­ac­tion of the com­plainant at the time.

He said it was all part of horse­play in jail, adding he’s ex­pe­ri­enced and wit­nessed other in­mates throw­ing wa­ter on those in the shower or toss­ing in toi­let pa­per or pa­per towel.

In leav­ing the shower area, MacNeil said he bun­dled up the com­plainant’s towel and clothes and tossed them in her cell, forc­ing her to call for the guard to open her cell.

MacNeil said in­mates have three choices when pre­sented with such horse­play — suck it up, give it back or tell a guard. He said the com­plainant gave it back be­cause she also par­tic­i­pated in teas­ing other in­mates.

“It is eas­ier to do time laugh­ing than sit­ting around be­ing mis­er­able,” said MacNeil.

Both MacNeil and the ac­cused have prior crim­i­nal records. MacNeil is serv­ing a to­tal fed­eral sen­tence of 15 years af­ter plead­ing guilty to rob­bery and man­slaugh­ter charges. He is to be re­leased in 2028.

In his clos­ing sub­mis­sion to the court, de­fence lawyer Luke Cragg urged the court to ex­am­ine closely the cred­i­bil­ity of the com­plainant, who tes­ti­fied she en­joyed en­gag­ing po­lice in high-speed car chases and who ap­pears to have lied about break­ing her hand in at­tempt­ing to fend off MacNeil in the shower.

Pros­e­cu­tor John MacDonald made a sim­i­lar re­quest about the cred­i­bil­ity of MacNeil, sug­gest­ing his ver­sion of events doesn’t add up.


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