'I WAS MADE TO FEEL SAFE THERE.'
KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops woman who says she was one of two women sexually assaulted at a New Year's Eve party two years ago has given her account of what happened that night.
The woman and her friends, all of whom can't be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban, attended a house party in Sahali on Dec. 31, 2014.
Kamloops Supreme Court heard today, Feb. 21, that up to 40 people attended the party, including Mathew Alvin Rittinger. Rittinger is charged with two counts of sexual assault stemming from Jan. 1, 2015.
The woman was 18 years old at the time and since she can't be identified, she will be referred to as Complainant One.
Complainant One arrived at the party, where she only knew a handful of people. Those people included Complainant Two and her best friend, who will be referred to as Friend One.
Crown prosecutor Camille Cook told the court that Friend One left the party shortly after the midnight countdown. She had asked both complainants if they wanted to get a ride with her friend, but they both decided to stay longer.
Both complainants tried to call Operation Red Nose but were told there would be a lengthy wait. Instead, Rittinger offered a ride to the women to a different residence so they could sleep until the cab rush slowed down.
Complainant One told the court that roughly five people piled into a Jeep to go to the house. When they arrived, Rittinger and Complainant Two showed the 18-year-old woman the bed she could sleep in until a cab would arrive.
"I got put down to bed by myself... I was made to feel safe there," Complainant One said.
Cook said Complainant Two and Rittinger went upstairs and began "making out." Cook says Rittinger grabbed Complainant Two's vagina and asked her for oral sex. She told him no and said she didn't want to have sex with him.
Cook said Complainant Two then went to find a laptop to try and connect with a friend through social media for a ride home.
But Rittinger allegedly went down the stairs to where Complainant One was sleeping. She went to bed fully clothed but when she woke up her pants and underwear had been taken off.
"I wake up to him on top of me," Complainant One said through tears during a video appearance in the trial's courtroom. "He's physically penetrating me with his penis."
Complainant One said she was confused and started "freaking out." She says Rittinger asked her if she was on birth control and then asked if she was on her period.
"Did you consent to this sexual act?" Cook asked her.
"No I did not," she replied.
Court heard Rittinger went back upstairs after that and Complainant One called Friend Two to come pick her up. She says she began putting her clothes back on when Rittinger came back in the room. She told him a friend was on his way to pick her up.
"He said we have a few more minutes... and we had sex again," Complainant One said.
She testified that Rittinger took her pants and underwear off again and began having sex with her. He was on top of her and she told the court she was unable to move.
But defence lawyer Kevin Church suggested to the woman that she was an "active participant" in the intercourse, in both instances. During cross-examination, he suggested to Complainant One that what really happened was Rittinger had come to share a bed with her and she obliged.
"You can't explain at all how your pants came off," Church said.
"How am I going to remember something if I was asleep? I woke up to him on top of me," she said. "I am not an active participant."
Church pointed out several times that Complainant One never said "No" verbally to Rittinger. Complainant One had testified that she physically couldn't voice her objection.
Church suggested that Complainant One had also switched sexual positions during intercourse, but she said he was on top of her the whole time.
"I told him if he doesn't let me go, (Friend Two) is going to come in and kick the shit out of him," Complainant One said in her testimony. "I didn't consent to anything."
"Did you say no to him?" Cook asked.
"I couldn't. I didn't say no," Complainant One replied.
The woman said she didn't kiss Rittinger but does not remember if she reciprocated any sexual acts at all. Friend Two eventually arrived and drove the complainant back to her home.
"What did you do when you got home?" Cook asked.
"Cry," the woman responded.
She went to bed after arriving back at her home but said she realized what had happened as soon as she woke up. She called Friend One, who picked her up and took her to the hospital. Friend One also testified during the trial today.
"I drove to her house and picked her up and took her to the hospital," Friend One testified. "I told her we should go no matter what and I told her not to shower."
Rittinger watched the testimony from the accused box in the courtroom. But when Cook asked Friend One if she saw who she knew to be Rittinger in the courtroom, Friend One said she didn't.
When Cook asked Complainant One the same question, the court clerk panned the camera across the courtroom. Complainant One said "Stop" when she saw Rittinger in the accused box.
Complainant One testified that she no longer feels confident, she's unable to go to house parties where she doesn't know everyone and says she went through a period of depression after the incident.
"I still, right now, don't fully understand," she said. "I just want this to be done."
But Church pulled out a package during the middle of cross-examination, which held several of the woman's Instagram posts. Some of the photos included captions referring to consuming a lot of alcohol.
"You still continue to drink alcohol when you go out, correct?" Church asked, before describing the pictures.
The captions referred to her going out too much and crazy weekends, underneath pictures of her and her friends at bars or parties.
Complainant One had testified that she'd felt disgusted with herself after the incident. Church suggested that the real reason behind that feeling was because she had sex with another man while she was seeing someone in December 2014.
The trial is scheduled to last four days and Complainant Two is expected to testify tomorrow.
– This story was updated at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 to include new information from cross-examination in the trial.
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