Interior man convicted of violent sexual assault against partner - InfoNews

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Interior man convicted of violent sexual assault against partner

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October 05, 2018 - 8:00 PM

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KAMLOOPS - First he beat her, bit her and violently sexually assaulted her, then at trial, James George Sweet got leave from the court to question his former girlfriend about their sexual history.

Sweet was convicted of sexual assault, assault, assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement on his former girlfriend — a woman he once claimed to love.

Normally, lawyers are extremely limited in how they may cross-examine a complainant in sexual assault cases. In his decision convicting Sweet, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Len Marchand said he allowed the questioning because Sweet said the violence was part of ‘rough sex’ the two enjoyed.

"When I allowed Mr. Sweet’s…application, I thought this might be a case about possible grey areas in the law concerning the autonomy of adults to set ground rules for themselves to engage in consensual and pleasurable sexual activities, albeit with some level of pain," Marchand said in his decision. "After hearing all of the evidence, however, it simply turns out to be a case involving a controlling, possessive, jealous man who perpetrated sexual violence on an intimate partner he professed to love. Sadly, this type of sexual violence against women continues to be far too common.”

The victim cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban. (iNFOnews.ca is also not identifying the community or relative timelines of the events to protect the identity of the victim in the case.)
Sweet and the woman dated for a few months before the woman went on a holiday. Shortly before she came back, Sweet became upset when she didn’t call him one evening. They had a heated argument using text messages and Sweet called her a series of offensive names.

Despite the argument, Sweet picked the woman up from the airport the following day and took her back to his apartment outside of Kamloops. The argument subsided until Sweet saw photos of an ex-boyfriend on the woman’s phone, and as Marchand describes it, “a series of events occurred that left the woman battered, bitten, bruised and bewildered.”

The woman testified that Sweet became enraged after seeing the photos and locked himself in his bathroom while the complainant tried to smooth things over. After he came out she showed him that she had deleted the photos of her ex-boyfriend, but Sweet grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground where he smashed her face into the carpet.

He then committed a series of horrific sexual assaults against her, including ripping her clothes off, telling her not to move, and striking her with a belt.

At some point the woman went to the washroom and took a photo of herself with a red nose and dried blood below her nostrils, on her cheek, on the tip of her nose and below her lip.

She sent the picture to a friend with the word “help” attached. She turned her phone off and put it in her purse, as she was afraid he might see her phone light up and notice she had sent a message to her friend, and then beat her more.

The assaults didn't stop there. The woman testified Sweet was trying to be intimate with her, which turned to biting and eventually another sexual assault. The woman protested several times throughout the encounters. They eventually went to sleep but she was sexually assaulted again the next morning before police arrived and arrested Sweet.

“The investigating officers took photographs of the complainant’s buttocks (the next morning). They are disturbing,” Marchand wrote. 

Some of the woman’s injuries included a bleeding nose, a bump on her forehead, fingerprints and bite marks on her neck that were painful for three days, a bite mark on her arm and her left breast, bruising that completely covered her buttocks, and psychological effects like flashbacks, fear of being in public, fear of being hurt, isolating herself and anxiety attacks. She was off work for months after the assaults.

Sweet testified during trial he believed the woman consented to rough sex in the past but maintained he had an honest but mistaken belief she consented to the violence. Nothing in their sexual history approached the violence displayed shortly after his jealous reaction. 

Marchand found the complainant credible and reliable, adding that despite the intensely private subject matter and intrusive questions she was asked, she testified in a composed and respectful manner. He added that the fact that the woman didn’t consider various escape options didn’t detract from her credibility, saying fear does not always lend itself to rational thought processes.

“Further, the idea that any woman in the complainant’s situation would scream, fight or run has long been discredited,” he said. “Rather, many women do whatever they feel they must to survive sexual violence.”

Marchand said Sweet’s testimony did not leave him with any reasonable doubt about what happened. He added that he outright rejected Sweet’s testimony that he honestly but mistakenly believed the woman consented to any sexual activity with him.

Sweet was found guilty on all four counts, and a sentencing date has not yet been set.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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