Violent rapist from West Kelowna fails to get appeal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Violent rapist from West Kelowna fails to get appeal

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October 14, 2020 - 7:30 AM

A West Kelowna man convicted of a violent 2016 rape failed in his attempt to appeal his conviction and will have to serve a five-year prison sentence.

Jeremy Robert Czechowski was found guilty in 2019 of sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement, choking with intent to enable the commission of an indictable offence, and uttering threats for a 2016 attack on a woman who visited his house after the bars closed.

He appealed his conviction, based on a number of issues, including that the judge relied on expert evidence beyond the expert’s qualifications; the Crown used prior consistent statements to bolster the complainant’s credibility; the judge allowed Crown to tender presumptively inadmissible evidence of the complainant’s sexual history without a hearing; the judge admitted and relied on non-expert opinion regarding PTSD and psychosis; and the judge found that the complainant lacked capacity to consent.

While the appeal court saw some validity to those complaints — specifically that the judge erred by admitting and relying on expert evidence beyond the expert’s qualifications and by relying on a prior consistent statement to bolster the complainant’s credibility — it just wasn’t enough to throw away the guilty verdict.

“Although the errors were serious and prejudicial to the appellant, the conviction is upheld under the curative proviso: the remaining evidence against the appellant on the issue of consent would inevitably result in a conviction on a retrial,” B.C. Appeal Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon wrote in the decision.

“In my view, this is a case in which the evidence against the appellant on the issue of consent is so powerful that there is no realistic possibility that a new trial would produce a different result. There was a significant body of evidence quite apart from the testimony of the complainant to support the non-consensual nature of the sexual contact."

The victim, Fenlon wrote, suffered extensive injuries that reflected her efforts to resist the sexual activity and the appellant’s efforts to overcome that resistance. Some of those injuries, such as bruising and scrapes on the knees and shins, are not conclusive.

“But, even seen in the most favourable light from the (Czechowski’s) perspective, many of the injuries cannot be understood except in the context of non-consensual sexual acts,” Fenlon wrote.

At the trial, the woman Czechowski raped testified she had been drunk and didn’t know her attacker well. Her account of the events were spotty, she said, because she’d blocked a lot of the experience from her mind.

Regardless, she remembered and described in detail three consecutive incidents of sexual assault.

“On arrival, she entered the kitchen and met the appellant. She said he reached up under her dress, ripped her underwear off, and refused to give it back to her,” the appeal court wrote in its decision.

“He told her that she was not going to leave until he had sex with her. He took her purse with her identification and cell phone and walked upstairs. She followed him into a bedroom in an attempt to retrieve her belongings.”

Once they were in the upstairs bedroom, the appellant forcefully removed her dress, pushed her against the bed while holding her wrists, and placed his hand on her throat.

“She described telling the appellant that she did not want to have sex with him and telling him to stop,” she said. “He was squeezing her throat so hard she began to see “little stars.” She was afraid she was going to pass out, so stopped trying to fight him off and instead attempted to loosen his grip on her throat. She said she was terrified. She said she was angry and had become ‘lippy’ with him, but he insisted they were going to have anal sex and said that if she would not allow that “it will be easy to bury you in the backyard.’”

She testified that he was threatening her and was concerned because no one knew where she was.

Once he left the room, the woman told the court she remembered being naked, unable to find her clothes, and afraid to leave the bedroom. She was searching for her ID and for something to defend herself when he came back.

“She said she put up her hands saying, ‘please stop’ and ‘leave me alone,’ which led to another struggle,” the court said. “The appellant again pinned her wrists over her head with one hand while squeezing her throat with the other so that he could force anal sex on her. He again left the room.”

Eventually she went downstairs, he told her to get back upstairs and once she did he assaulted her in a similar manner again.

In the end, she did not recall how she obtained her dress and cellphone, but once she retrieved her cellphone, she left the residence.

Czechowski had been out on bail while appealing his conviction. The Crown approved a new charge against Czechowski for uttering threats on Aug. 5, for an Enderby area incident alleged to have happened Aug. 3.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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