Woman says she was assaulted 40 times by N.W.T. chief

The woman accusing the chief of Dettah, N.W.T., of sexual assault testified in court Tuesday. She told the court she was sexually assaulted by Edward Sangris 40 times between 1986 and 1996.

Sexual assault trial for Dettah chief Edward Sangris hearing complainant's testimony

The woman accusing the chief of Dettah, N.W.T., of sexual assault testified in court Tuesday.

Chief Edward Sangris is facing three charges of sexual assault, from incidents which allegedly happened between 1986 and 1996.

The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said the assaults began almost as soon as she started working in the band office.

She said they always followed the same pattern: they happened in the morning before the office opened when she was alone.

She said Sangris, who was a band councillor at the time, would approach her from behind, feel her crotch and breasts, and then try to turn her head to kiss her.

The woman estimated that happened 40 times while she was working in the office.

She said Sangris eventually started following her around town, following her to bingos and calling her late at night asking to come over to her house.

She said that's when she approached then chief Jonas Sangris, who is the brother of the accused. She said she told Jonas Sangris that unless he and the council did something to stop it, she would go to the police and tell Edward Sangris' wife.

She said that's when a special, in-camera council meeting was called, which ended with Edward Sangris’ resignation.

Complainant cross-examined Tuesday afternoon

Under cross-examination, Sangris' lawyer asked the woman why she didn't take steps to protect herself if she was being assaulted regularly.

He asked her why she didn't lock the door behind her when she came in; Sangris didn't have a key for the office.

The woman didn't have an answer for that, saying only that she left the door open.

The defense lawyer also questioned why she was at her desk when Sangris was there instead of on her feet cleaning the office, as she said she had been doing.

The woman said she was emailing, but during the early days of the alleged assaults, the band office did not have email.

The jury still has to hear evidence in one important aspect of the case.

In his opening address, the Crown prosecutor said Sangris eventually resigned when the woman complained to the chief and council about the assaults. However, Sangris' lawyer says the resignation had nothing to do with the woman. He said Sangris was working at a mine and was missing too many council meetings.