Seventh scheduled trial in 15 months
Rouse’s request in latest Kentville sex assault trial a ruse: Crown
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.