Judge reserves decision in sexual assault case
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.