Teen tes­ti­fies taxi driver sex­u­ally as­saulted her

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - LOCAL - BY EVAN CA­REEN

A 65-year-old Happy Val­ley­goose Bay man was on trial this week for al­legedly sex­u­ally as­sault­ing and threat­en­ing a 14-year-old girl two years ago.

Joseph Cooney is charged with sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence, ut­ter­ing threats, sex­ual as­sault and forcible con­fine­ment.

The al­leged vic­tim, who is now 16, said that on June 2, 2017, she was walk­ing home just be­fore 11 p.m. when Cooney ap­proached her in a ve­hi­cle and of­fered her a ride home. She knew who he was, she said, be­cause some of her friends had told her that he was in­ter­ested in her, and she knew him as a taxi driver in the com­mu­nity.

He asked how old she was on the drive, she said, and asked if she was a vir­gin. When she told him that she was 14, he didn’t say any­thing, she said.

The age of con­sent in Canada is 16.

She said he then took her to his house and sex­u­ally as­saulted her. She asked him to stop, she said, af­ter it had be­gun and he did.

“I said, ‘I got to go home,’ and he touched me again,” she told the court. “He kissed me and he was shak­ing my hand. He said, ‘I trust you,’ and he said he will kill me if I tell any­one.”

She said she then went home and show­ered, and told her fam­ily the next day about what hap­pened.

Cpl. Se­bas­tian Pelchat, the RCMP of­fi­cer who was in charge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said that when po­lice went to speak to Cooney on June 4 he knew why they were there.

“He said it was prob­a­bly about a young girl that was al­ways hang­ing out at his place, ask­ing him for money and wouldn’t leave him alone,” Pelchat told the court.

Pelchat said they then ar­rested Cooney, who was co­op­er­a­tive, and took him to the de­tach­ment.

Cooney’s lawyer, Ed Mon­tague, is go­ing to cross-ex­am­ine the al­leged vic­tim, and has a cou­ple of wit­nesses to call in Cooney’s de­fence.

The trial was sched­uled to end Thurs­day, but due to tech­ni­cal is­sues there was not enough time al­lot­ted to call all wit­nesses.

The case is sched­uled to re­turn to court Wed­nes­day to set a date for the re­main­ing wit­nesses to tes­tify.

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