Trial wraps for Kamloops man accused of sexually assaulting two women after New Year's party - InfoNews

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Trial wraps for Kamloops man accused of sexually assaulting two women after New Year's party

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February 24, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Lawyers have made closing arguments in the case of a Kamloops man accused of sexually assaulting two women after a New Year’s Eve party.

Mathew Rittinger, 25, is facing two charges of sexual assault. The four day Kamloops Supreme Court trial came to an end today, Feb. 24, with both lawyers focusing on whose evidence should be believed.

For defence lawyer Kevin Church, the choice is clear. His client, Rittinger, says he had consensual sexual relations with two women in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2015.

Court heard this week that two women, referred to as Complainant One and Complainant Two, had gone to Rittinger's residence after a party so they could sleep while waiting for the cab rush to slow down. Complainant One, who was 18 years old at the time, said she awoke in the morning to Rittinger having sex with her.

Complainant Two said Rittinger held her on top of him while he aggressively touched her vaginal area while she told him to stop.

In closing arguments, Church said his client's evidence is more reliable and that both women consented to the sexual acts. He recognized Complainant Two told Rittinger to stop his sexual advances and says his client immediately ended them after hearing her objection. But, Church submits, the same can't be said for Complainant One.

"At no time does (Complainant One) ever say no to Mr. Rittinger, nor does she indicate in anyway she didn't wish to engage in sexual intercourse," he said.

Church also said there were flaws in Complainant One's story that makes her evidence unbelievable. He says if she was distraught after waking up with Rittinger having sex with her, she could have left his residence.

"She doesn't attempt to phone the police, nor does she attempt to flee," Church said. "Her route to flee is right there. The front door is right there."

Complainant One testified that after she had been raped, Rittinger left the room and she called her friend to pick her up. But when Rittinger came back in the room, they had sex again. She told the court she wasn't physically capable of saying no and that she did not consent to either the first nor second instance of intercourse.

When asked in cross-examination if she had given Rittinger oral sex before she left, she said she couldn't recall. Church said it's logical to believe a woman who was assaulted by someone would not have given them oral sex afterward.

"She was quick to say, a bit defensively, 'I don't remember, I don't remember'," Church said. "It doesn't have a ring of truth to it."

Complainant Two testified that although she consensually kissed Rittinger at different times through the night, she made it clear she did not want to have sex with him. She said when she went back to his home with him they went to his bedroom where they kissed again.

She testified that she told Rittinger she was drunk as an excuse for the kissing to stop and so she could go to sleep. She said he aggressively touched her vagina over her pants and pinned her onto him even after being told to stop multiple times.

Church submitted that this shows Complainant Two is willing to lie if it serves her own interests.

Crown prosecutor Camille Cook rejected Rittinger's claims that two women who he had just met had consensual relations with him.

"What occurred there was not consensual," Cook said.

She said both complainants in the case, who at the time were nothing more than friendly acquaintances, had no reason to make up a story about a stranger sexually assaulting them.

"There is no reason, nor evidence, that these girls made their stories up," Cook said.

She also pointed out a "number of inconsistencies" between Rittinger's evidence at trial and his original statement to police. Court heard yesterday, Feb. 23, that Rittinger told officers he was 'pretty drunk' that night and couldn't remember specific things.

"He has every reason to add specific details to his evidence because he knows how desperate of a situation he is in," Cook said.

There are still questions about how affected each person involved was by their consumption of alcohol that night, although everyone agreed they had been drinking, Cook said. Complainant One was intoxicated, therefore in a 'drunk sleep' when Rittinger began having sex with her, which is why she didn't wake up.

"If you're in a state that you can't consent, then you can't consent," Cook said. "Her failure to say no is not consent."

Supreme Court Judge Hope Hyslop reserved her decision on whether or not Rittinger is guilty of the crimes alleged. A date for the decision will be set on March 6.

For more stories on the trial, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 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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