Lifeguard testifies in trial of man accused of assaulting teens at water park

A lifeguard testified that the West Edmonton Mall Water Park was about to close when a large group of teenage girls approached her to report that a man had touched them inappropriately in the water.

Witness could not recall if man was wearing goggles, as stated by the victims

Six girls complained to police they were inappropriately touched at the West Edmonton Mall water park on Feb. 4 last year. (Facebook/West Edmonton Mall)

A lifeguard testified that the West Edmonton Mall Water Park was about to close when a large group of teenage girls approached her to report that a man had touched them inappropriately in the water.

Karley Cranford was one of four lifeguards on duty at the wave pool on the evening of Feb. 4 last year.

She was called to testify Friday at Edmonton provincial court by prosecutor Laurie Trahan.

Soleiman Hajj Soleiman, 40, is accused of six counts of sexual assault and six counts of sexual contact with a child.

'It was a big deal'

Karley Cranford testified that one of the girls required first aid to treat a scrape on her leg. As she administered first aid, the girls recounted the events that had transpired in the wave pool.  

Cranford said that her supervisors were immediately called.

"It was taken seriously, it was a big deal," said the young woman.

Cranford told court she gave her supervisors a description of the suspect, as it was communicated to her by the victims. The teenagers also pointed to the man in the water.

Not sure he was wearing goggles

During previous testimonies, the victims described their attacker as a man with dark skin, dark hair and a beard, who was wearing dark blue shorts and goggles.

The lifeguard told court that the man was swimming away from her, and that she couldn't tell if he was wearing goggles.

"I only remember being told that he wore goggles, I can't recall if he was wearing goggles," said Cranford during cross-examination by defence lawyer Adam Karbani.

The defence's case rests on the possibility that the teenagers misidentified their attacker.

The trial resumes Monday with more testimony from young teenagers.