April 29, 2016 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA – A Kelowna man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an unconscious 15-year-old girl after a party last summer, says he was only in the wrong place at the wrong time, contradicting a witness's testimony she saw him rape her.
Steven James Clark, 32, was at a party on Lakeshore Drive when a witness says she saw him on top of her intoxicated and unconscious friend in August 2015. The witness testified at a preliminary hearing in Supreme Court earlier this year she saw him from behind with his pants down, her underwear had been removed, and he was thrusting with his hips.
According to Crown lawyer Cory LaBoucane, Clark, a tattoo artist, was at a small party with the victim, a friend and several other people in August 2015. Neither the complainant, nor the witness can be identified by law.
LaBoucane says the victim passed out sometime after midnight and her friend, the witness, put her in a bed fully dressed. LaBoucane says she drank roughly 13 ounces of tequila that night.
As the victim slept, Clark and the witness smoked marijuana before he left to go to the bathroom. When he did not return she went looking and found him in the same bedroom she had left the victim. She told the judge she saw both of their genitals and that the victim did not wake up even when she screamed at him.
His lawyer Michael Stephenson says he admits to touching her but denies having sex. He said she was flirting with him all night, and despite his objections, was waiting for him when he went to the bathroom and dragged him into the bedroom.
The witness says her friend did not wake up until the next morning, after which she told her what happened and they called the police. Clark was arrested later that day.
Swabs taken at the hospital that day indicated the presence of a small amount of semen, however DNA could not be extracted.
In addition to charges of sexual assault and sexual interference of someone under 16, Clark pleaded guilty to seven breaches of the conditions of his release. After he was arrested and posted $2,000 bail, he failed to show up to several scheduled and required meetings with a bail supervisor, moved residences without notifying the court and was employed at an establishment that sold liquor. A warrant was issued and police found him on Feb. 4, intoxicated and living with a new girlfriend who has a young daughter.
He was arrested again for breach of conditions and has been in custody since.
Crown is seeking a sentence of between 22 and 27 months for all charges as well as a curfew and travel restrictions. His lawyer is asking for a sentence of less than eight months.
When Clark spoke on his own behalf, he took responsibility for being in the wrong place at the wrong time but maintained he did not have sex with the victim.
“Regardless of me wanting to argue any points… I shouldn’t have been at that place at that time,” he said. “This was a very closed off situation. The Crown is trying to make me seem like something I am definitely not. I should have made better choices… but I’ve already gone through a lot. I’ve definitely learned a lot. There’s no chance of me ever being in a situation like this. I don’t think you’ll ever see me in the court again.”
While Clark pleaded guilty, he refuted an important allegation meaning the witness must give evidence to give Judge Brad Chapman an opportunity to find the truth in the discrepanices. The case is adjourned until early next week to fix a date for the witness to testify.
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