Jury trial underway for violent sexual assault on stranger

A jury trial is underway for a man accused of kidnapping and attacking a 37-year-old wife and mother. Ashton Natomagan allegedly grabbed the woman from behind, dragged her into an alley and assaulted her until she made a daring escape.

‘The man said I needed to be quiet and he showed me a knife,' woman says

A 37-year-old wife and mother was sexually assaulted by a complete stranger in the space between these two back-alley garages in April 2015. (Edmonton Police Service )

Warning: This story contains graphic content.

On a Saturday afternoon in April 2015, a 37-year-old wife and mother decided to go for a jog through her north central Edmonton neighbourhood.

After running for about 25 minutes, she decided to go an extra block or two — and became the victim of a violent sexual assault.

Her alleged attacker, Ashton Natomagan, 35, is now on trial for kidnapping, choking, sexual assault with a weapon and robbery.

Ashton Natomagan, 35, is on trial facing charges of sexual assault with a weapon, kidnapping, robbery and choking. (Edmonton Police Service )

The woman's identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.

On Wednesday, she told a jury of seven men and five women what happened to her on that day more than two years ago.

She testified that just as she got to 114th Avenue near 101st Street, she was grabbed from behind.

"I felt confusion," she said. "I was very confused about why anyone out of the blue would just grab me."

She said the man lifted her off the ground. He put his left arm around her neck and she lost consciousness.

"I wasn't able to speak. I couldn't breathe. I blacked out," she said.

When she came to, she said she could feel dirt and wood chips in front of her face. There was a weight on her back and she couldn't move.

"I remember realizing I was in danger," she testified. "I tried to yell help and the man said I needed to be quiet and he showed me a knife."

Her attacker held a box cutter-style knife close to her chin, she said.  

"He got me to stand up. He still had the knife in front of me. And he started to walk with me in front of him down the alley."

He ordered her not to look at him as he forced her further down the alley. At one point she said he pushed his erection into her backside and said, "Do you feel that?"

Attacker demands money

The woman's attacker led her into a space between two stucco garages and forced her to sit on the ground between his legs. He was sitting behind her with his back against the garage.

The woman was attacked in this space between two garages in April 2015. (Edmonton Police Service )

"He continued to hold the knife in front of me," she said. "He was explaining that he needed money. Someone was after him. He said he needed $1,000, but if he got $200 that would take the pressure off."

The terrified woman tried to negotiate. But she had left the house without a wallet and lost her phone somewhere in the alley. She convinced him she could make an e-transfer of the money if he could locate her phone.

The man wrapped her hands and ankles in green painter's tape, then put tape over her mouth so she couldn't scream.

The man told her not to move before he left to look for the phone.

The tape around her ankles was loose enough that she was able to stand up. Then he returned and got angry that she had disobeyed him.

He pulled her pants and underwear down to her ankles and made her get on all fours on the ground.

"He was very angry, very aggressive," she said. "He was kneeling behind me and said, 'Maybe I have to cut you so you understand I'm in control'."

He didn't cut her and he didn't penetrate her.

"He ordered me to stand up. He pulled my pants and underwear back up."

Victim escapes

The man left the alley again to look for the phone. She said, "I knew I probably needed to try to get away."

The tape had once again loosened around her ankles so she was able to stand up. Then she broke the tape around her hands. She managed to scale a fence and run through a backyard to freedom.
The woman jumped over this fence, then ran through the backyard to freedom. She tore off some of the tape she was bound with and left it behind. (Edmonton Police Service )

Her house was close by. She rushed in the back door and found her husband sitting at the kitchen table.

The green painter's tape still covered her mouth. He removed it for her and called police.

"It was awful. I was terrified. Incredibly upset," she said.

Prosecutor Carrie-Ann Downey asked, "Were you crying?"

"Perhaps once I got home," she said.

The wife and mother, who's now 40 years old, admitted she doesn't think she can positively identify the man who attacked her.