An 18-year-old girl in Inuvik, N.W.T., said the man she has accused of assault chose a trial in French as a deliberate attempt to intimidate her and dissuade her from speaking.

She cannot be named because of a publication ban.


Former Inuvik teacher Hugues Latour is on trial this week in Inuvik on charges of assault and forcible confinement. He elected to be tried in French. (CBC)

Former Inuvik teacher Hugues Latour, 39, is standing trial this week on charges of assault and forcible confinement. He is accused of slapping his then-17-year-old girlfriend and blocking her escape from his apartment.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows an accused to choose a trial in either official language. Latour chose to be tried in French.

On Tuesday, the girl, who speaks only English, spent four hours on the witness stand due to difficulties with translation. She was asked repeatedly to speak in short sentences, and to pause for translation. 

When Latour testified in French, the girl and her family could not understand what was being said because there was no simultaneous translation.

"I was the only one who did not know what was going on and that’s exactly what he wanted," she said. "I didn’t understand anything that happened. I heard my name, that’s all I knew. I am putting my energy into this, I should at least know what the hell is going on."

She said she and Latour always spoke English during their relationship. Latour also taught at an English-language school in Inuvik.

Latour’s lawyer declined to comment.

A verdict in the case is expected Thursday morning.