Victim terrified 'intimate' videos would be shared on social media
Warning: This story contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing
The victim of an alleged violent home invasion in Ottawa told court she begged her attackers to not share images or video of her as they took off her clothes against her will.
Crown lawyers say the July 3, 2015 attack was revenge over a relationship between the alleged victim and a man who was also dating one of the accused, 43-year-old Eunice Ilunga.
Ilunga, along with Sandrine Tomba-Kalema, 37, Safi Mahinja, 27, and Nina Janina Raul, 35, face charges of unlawful confinement, sexual assault and taking intimate images of someone without their consent.
Ilunga, Tomba-Kalema and Mahinja each face additional charges of break and enter, kidnapping with intent to confine, assault, assault with a weapon and sexual assault with a weapon.
All four have pleaded not guilty in the judge-only trial at Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa. The accused women and the victim, who was 21 at the time of the assault and who cannot be named because of a publication ban, belong to Ottawa's tight-knit Congolese community.
The alleged victim, now 23, gave testimony in French Tuesday via closed-circuit television in a room outside the courtroom.
She told the court she was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and came to Canada in 2010; first in Toronto in 2010 and later moving to Ottawa in 2014.
For about three weeks she said she lived with Ilunga, but said they were not friends. She said she met Raul and Mahinja through Ilunga, but said she had never met Tomba-Kalema until the July 3 attack.
She said she was in her bathrobe and pajamas when Ilunga, Tomba-Kalema and Mahinja got into her east-end Ottawa apartment using a key she believes came from her ex-boyfriend.
She had dated a man from Dec. 2014 to May 2015, but did not know until after she broke up with him that he had been in a relationship with Ilunga.
'Aren't you surprised?' accused told alleged victim
Ilunga said "you thought I'd never find your key, aren't you surprised," before hitting her in the eye, she told court.
The three women moved her into the bathroom, where Ilunga took off her robe and lowered her pajamas, she said. While Ilunga did this, the woman testified Tomba-Kalema asked her "Why did you go out with someone else's boyfriend?"
All four women were speaking Lingala, a Congolese language, in video of the incident that was later posted on social media and has been played in court.
The woman said Ilunga threatened her and told her to remove her hands from covering her intimate parts and was afraid images or video would be taken.
She said she pleaded with Ilunga to let her keep her hands where they were.
"This was my intimate self that would be discovered," she told court before breaking down and crying.
The judge called for a short break before testimony resumed.
Threatened with knife
When court resumed, she testified Ilunga used a knife to slash her sofa and chair and then broke her television. Then Ilunga told her that if she didn't come with them or tried to run away, she would stab her, she told court.
Surveillance video from the apartment building showed all three of her alleged captors leaving the building with the woman.
They arrived at Mahinja's house, where Ilunga told her to lie on the ground in the yard, she said.
She said Mahinja and Ilunga were pulling her hair and Ilunga had the woman's cellphone and was demanding the password, which she gave.
The Crown asked why she didn't want them to see what was on her cellphone, to which she replied because there was an intimate video of herself and her ex-boyfriend.
She said she was worried what they would do with it. Court has earlier heard that five videos related to the incident were posted on social media after the attack.
Earlier incident in Montreal
The July 3 home invasion was not the first encounter she had with Ilunga, the woman told court.
She explained she had been receiving phone threats from a female voice she couldn't identify saying "we're going to hurt you and harm you on behalf of Eunice Ilunga."
Then, on the night of June 5 she said she was at a bar in Montreal when she saw Ilunga and Raul. She told court decided to leave to avoid what she called "problems or drama."
As she left the bar, she said a car sped toward her and slammed on the brakes right in front of her.
Ilunga and Raul got out of the car and chased her on foot, she said. She raced into the car of a friend, and then she says the her pursuers got back in their vehicle and continued chase.
When both vehicles had stopped, Ilunga got out of the vehicle wielding a screwdriver and rushed toward her where she was in the back seat of her friend's car, she said.
Ilunga said "stop we've been looking for you and we've got you," the woman told court.
"I didn't know what she was going to do," she said.
She said she and her friend managed to push Ilunga away from the car and got away.
Assistant Crown Louise Tansey asked her if she knew why the women were threatening her, and she said she didn't know at the time.
With files from Laurie Fagan