Cooke wasn’t in office on the day of alleged assault, court hears
Court has heard from defence witnesses that aboriginal elder Walter Cooke was not in his office the day he is alleged to have sexually assaulted a young woman last year.
Cooke’s trial on one count of sexual assault has resumed after two days of testimony in January. Cooke, 68, has pleaded not guilty.
On Wednesday, his lawyer Lauren Wilhelm called two of Cooke’s colleagues, and his wife, to testify.
All said Cooke was not at work at the De dwa da dehs nye> s Aboriginal Health Centre on Main Street East where the assault was supposed to have happened and on the day it took place.
The three, however, expressed some minor doubt later when cross-examined by assistant Crown attorney Andrew Scott.
The alleged victim — who was 18 at the time — testified earlier to being, early last year, at Cooke’s office, where she often sought advice and counselling and that he did a smudging — an aboriginal cleansing and healing. He followed that by rubbing her stomach. He then put a hand down her jeans, under her underwear, and touched her, she said.
On Wednesday, Cooke’s wife Deb Cooke testified her husband did not go to work that day because he was sick and vomiting all day.
By that time, he started to have renal failure caused by his diabetes and, on that particular day, “the toxins were loading up in his body from the kidney failure,” she said.
She recorded Cooke’s appointments and, sometimes, his illnesses in a medical journal, but doesn’t believe she noted the vomiting, she said.
“Without looking at my medical book, I can’t say if I wrote down that he missed work that day.”
She agreed with Scott that she didn’t tell police Cooke was not at work that day until Cooke’s trial started two weeks ago.
Constance McKnight, the health centre’s executive director, testified Cooke was not at the centre that day because she looked for him and couldn’t find him.
She also said, however, that Cooke was the only one of her 60 employees who didn’t record his work hours because he “had no use for the time sheets,” and that this had frustrated her.
Marilyn Wright, the centre’s FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) child nutrition program co-ordinator, testified she didn’t see Cooke on the day in question — and the alleged victim visited Wright’s office the day after, on the day of the week she normally sees both her and Cooke.
Wright admitted to Scott later, however, that she did not have any records of the date the woman visited.
“I’m not going to say it’s not possible because I guess it could have been,” she said when asked if the woman could have visited her on a day before her usual time.
The trial continues on Thursday.