Sev­enth sched­uled trial in 15 months

Rouse’s re­quest in lat­est Kentville sex as­sault trial a ruse: Crown

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - BY IAN FAIR­CLOUGH THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

Crown at­tor­ney Michael MacKenzie had a blunt as­sess­ment when asked if he thought the lat­est ad­journ­ment in court pro­ceed­ings against con­victed sex of­fender Dar­rin Phillip Rouse was a de­lay­ing tac­tic.

“There’s no doubt in my mind. That’s ex­actly what this is,” he said out­side Kentville Supreme Court Oct. 24, af­ter Rouse’s lawyer asked for and re­ceived an or­der for as­sess­ment on whether the 52-year-old Kings County man is fit to stand trial.

Rouse now claims to have no mem­ory of the time around the al­leged of­fence, or the peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with the case.

“Mr. Rouse is fit, he has been all along. It’s just an­other ruse to buy time,” MacKenzie said. “But, it’s his right and the judge made the de­ci­sion, and the Crown will live with it.”

Rouse was sup­posed to be start­ing his trial on charges of sex­ual as­sault, sex­ual touch­ing and in­vi­ta­tion to sex­ual touch­ing against a girl un­der the age of 16, and drug traf­fick­ing.

It’s his sev­enth sched­uled trial in Supreme Court in the past 15 months.

Since last Novem­ber, he has asked for de­lays in sev­eral of his pro­ceed­ings by ask­ing for a sex­ual of­fender as­sess­ment re­port, ask­ing for an­other chance to do the re­port af­ter he didn’t co-op­er­ate, fir­ing his lawyer, ask­ing for time to get a lawyer af­ter he was re­fused a new one by Le­gal Aid, fil­ing mis­trial ap­pli­ca­tions, fil­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for court-or­dered fund­ing for the mis­trial ap­pli­ca­tions, and be­cause he was re­cov­er­ing from be­ing beaten up in jail.

Most of those re­quests came on the day of, or a cou­ple of days be­fore, a sched­uled court ap­pear­ance.

“Ev­ery­thing he has done has been so last-minute,” MacKenzie said.

The trial was sup­posed to start Oct. 22, but de­fence lawyer Johnathan Hughes had asked for a de­lay that morn­ing be­cause he hadn’t been able to meet with Rouse ahead of the trial af­ter the ac­cused was moved to fed­eral prison from a provin­cial jail a cou­ple of days be­fore their sched­uled meeting.

Hughes told Jus­tice Pierre Muise Oct. 22 that he would use the day to talk to Rouse about how they would pro­ceed in the trial, which was then resched­uled to Oct. 24.

But when he ap­peared in court, Hughes told Muise that he couldn’t get in­struc­tions from Rouse.

“On Mon­day ... a bit of an is­sue arose at that time. I spoke to Mr. Rouse again this morn­ing, and that is­sue seems to be per­sist­ing,” Hughes said.

“Mr. Rouse is in­di­cat­ing he has ab­so­lutely no rec­ol­lec­tion of the events that bring him to court. De­spite pos­ing the ques­tion to him in many dif­fer­ent ways, I’m un­able to get any in­struc­tion from him in re­fer­ral to these charges that are be­fore your lord­ship.”

Hughes said Rouse told him that he doesn’t re­call the time of the al­leged of­fence, the com­plainant, or any­thing pe­riph­eral to the case, and that Rouse wanted to have the fit­ness as­sess­ment.

He told Muise that with­out any in­struc­tions from Rouse, he didn’t feel like he was in a po­si­tion to cross-ex­am­ine Crown wit­nesses, who were sched­uled to tes­tify Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.

He said Rouse told him he didn’t know why he was at court and that “he thought he was here for a first-de­gree mur­der trial be­cause he has in­di­cated he has mur­dered Mr. MacKenzie in his dreams a num­ber of times.

He’s in­di­cated he’s un­able to dis­tin­guish be­tween what he sees in his dreams and re­al­ity.”

MacKenzie told Muise that “not much sur­prises me, but I am sur­prised. We’ve had de­lays on this and other mat­ters just one af­ter an­other with re­spect to Mr. Rouse ... there has been just about ev­ery ma­noeu­vre that could be done, and they all hap­pened lit­er­ally on the eve of trial.”

He said fit­ness hadn’t been an is­sue in any of the doc­u­ments filed in pre­vi­ous pro­ceed­ings against Rouse.

“There needs to come a time when this just stops,” he said.

At one point Rouse loudly spoke to Hughes, say­ing in a pro­fan­ity-laced state­ment that he has to face MacKenzie in his dreams ev­ery night, draw­ing an ad­mon­ish­ment from Muise.

Hughes told the court that Rouse was in­di­cat­ing that he has lost his mem­ory be­cause of stress from the pre­vi­ous tri­als, but also that he claimed he had post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der be­cause of the jail­house beat­ing, be­cause he had wit­nessed a homi­cide while in cus­tody, and be­cause he was al­legedly in­jured one time when be­ing ar­rested by RCMP.

Muise said he un­der­stood the Crown’s po­si­tion, and its be­lief of the rea­son for the as­sess­ment re­quest.

“The state­ments pro­vided in sup­port of the ap­pli­ca­tion are on the weak side, even given the thresh­old be­ing merely es­tab­lish­ing rea­son­able grounds to be­lieve,” he said.

“But I do have in­for­ma­tion of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. It is be­ing linked, al­beit only by Mr. Rouse, to his in­abil­ity to re­call the given time when the of­fences are al­leged to have oc­curred.”

The case has been ad­journed un­til next month for the as­sess­ment.

Rouse is cur­rently serv­ing a to­tal sen­tence of seven years for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of a 13-yearold girl, two counts of trad­ing drugs to women in ex­change for sex, and one of drug traf­fick­ing.

Those con­vic­tions came in three dif­fer­ent tri­als.

He was ac­quit­ted of crim­i­nal ha­rass­ment in an­other trial, ac­quit­ted of sex­ual as­sault against a young girl af­ter a sep­a­rate case, and ac­quit­ted of threats and crim­i­nal ha­rass­ment af­ter the com­plainants didn’t show up for trial.

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