André Doucet sexual assault trial begins in Iqaluit
Judge sends court sheriff out to summon people from the streets to fill jury
A trial in a sexual assault case began Monday at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, after the court sheriff was sent out onto the streets to round up members of the public to fill the remaining spots on the jury.
André Doucet, 39, of Iqaluit has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, assault and intimidation in relation to events that occurred between December 2012 and March 2013.
Around 70 potential jury members had been summoned to Iqaluit's Cadet Hall. A number were excused for medical reasons or were challenged by the Crown and defence lawyers Stephen Shabala and Joseph Murdoch-Flowers. A handful were also dismissed for knowing the accused, potential witnesses or the complainant – whose identity is protected by a publication ban.
After exhausting the list of people summoned, the jury was still one member short.
Nunavut Justice Sue Cooper ordered the sheriff onto the streets to randomly summon 12 more people in order to complete the jury selection. An alternate juror was also selected and the trial began in the afternoon.
The jury – made up of seven men and five women – listened to testimony Monday from three witnesses called by Crown lawyer Myriam Girard.
A school administrator, child support worker and an RCMP police constable testified Monday.
The school administrator testified that the complainant, who was 14 years old at the time, approached him March 6, 2013, saying she had concerns about a relationship her friend was in.
It eventually came out the concerns she had involved herself and an older male. Under Canadian law, a person who is 14 or 15 cannot legally consent to sexual activity with another person who is five or more years older than them unless they are married.
The school administrator contacted a support worker with the Nunavut Department of Family Services, who then contacted the police.
Both the support worker and police met the administrator and the complainant at the school.
The girl, support worker and police constable then went to the Iqaluit RCMP detachment where the girl gave a recorded statement.
Later that day, the police officer arrested Doucet at his apartment. The constable testified that after he arrested Doucet, Doucet said "But she's my girlfriend." Defence lawyer Shabala questioned whether or not Doucet actually said those words, and if he did, whether he said them before or after his rights were read to him.
Doucet was later released on bail.
The Crown is expected to call two more witnesses to testify when the trial continues Tuesday.
The trial is scheduled to last three days.