British Columbia

'No. Stop. Respect me': UBC student details alleged sexual assault

The trial of a University of B.C. student accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student in his residence begins this week in Vancouver provincial court.

WARNING: This story contains details readers may find disturbing

The trial of a University of B.C. student accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student in a residence room began in Vancouver provincial court Monday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

UPDATE: This story was updated on April 6, 2018 to reflect the acquittal of the accused. A provincial court judge acquitted Jass Sekhon of sexual assault after concluding the Crown had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. According to Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin: "While this is not the result the Crown was advocating for, we respect the court's decision and the process by which it was reached."

A young woman who claims she was sexually assaulted in the residence room of a fellow University of B.C. student testified Monday that at the moment of the alleged rape she was in a state of disbelief.

"I couldn't believe it was happening. All you hear are stories about friends of friends who have gone through it, and you imagine yourself in the situation, and what they could have done differently, and what you would have done differently in that situation," the 23-year-old said of the night of Sept. 4, 2016.

"When I was in the situation, I didn't even think about doing anything because I felt trapped."

Contact 'emotionally difficult'

The alleged victim's testimony opened the first day of a Vancouver provincial court criminal trial which highlights the issue of sexual assault on campus.

The case — which has not been publicly reported before — is one of three currently before the courts involving separate sexual assaults alleged to have happened on the university endowment lands. All three involve different accused.

According to court information obtained by CBC, another one allegedly occurred in October 2017 and another in January of 2018.

The sexual assault trial in Vancouver provincial court highlights the issue of consent and sexual assault on campus. (CBC)

The accused in the case at trial — Jass Sekhon — is the same age as the victim, who cannot be identified under the terms of a publication ban.

Sekhon has pleaded not guilty.

He wore a dark suit and tie as he listened to his accuser recount in exact and occasionally emotional detail her version of the events of the night of Sept. 4, 2016 when the two met at a fraternity party.

She testified from behind three white screens set up to block Sekhon from her line of sight.

Crown counsel Jenny Dyck told the judge both the young woman and Sekhon still attend university and have bumped into each other on a number of occasions.

"She found those incidents of contact with Mr. Sekhon to be emotionally difficult," Dyck said.

'No. Stop. Respect me.'

The alleged victim detailed a back-to-school party in a fraternity house so filled with people the heat inside was palpable.

She said she had drunk a bottle of white wine and a spiked tea, but was sobering up with water.

After speaking briefly with Sekhon in the foyer of the fraternity, she said she ran into him again in the garden, where they sat together and began kissing. She found the situation amusing and ran to find her best friend, who returned with her.

Then, she claims, Sekhon invited her back to his residence room.

"I told him — I don't know, I'm not the kind of person who just leaves with someone,"  she said.

The young woman claims Sekhon said they would talk and cuddle. She cried as she described her friend's reaction.

"She had this look in her eyes," she said. "When you have a best friend and you can just exchange looks with them and understand what they're trying to say. (My friend) was trying to get me out of a situation that I normally wouldn't have been in."

Alone with Sekhon in his room, the alleged victim said the accused stripped to his underwear and they began a cycle of kissing, talking and her trying to stop him from trying to remove her clothes.

"When he started tugging on my shorts, initially, I told him not to," she testified. "I explicitly said: 'No. Stop. Respect me.'"

'That's when I got raped'

She claims she tried to push him off, but he was pulling her shorts down.

"I just kept saying no, because I didn't want my shorts off. I'm a person that's not very comfortable with their body," she said, sobbing.

"I don't even wear bathing suits to the beach, so when my shorts came off, I personally felt really exposed."

The alleged victim claimed she didn't want to have intercourse, so she offered to give Sekhon oral sex. But she said she started gagging and froze.

She said they kissed again, and he started pulling at her underwear.

"All I remember saying is 'Stop'," she said.

The woman claimed Sekhon pulled her underwear off, spat on his fingers and sexually assaulted her: "He proceeded to penetrate me and that's when I got raped."

She testified that she didn't want him to ejaculate inside her and offered to give him oral sex instead. After, she claimed she gathered her things together and rushed out the building as he followed.

"He lights a cigarette, he's smoking and he starts urinating in the bush," she said. "I just remember not looking back, but sticking up my middle finger at him."

The woman said she didn't remember Sekhon asking for consent to have intercourse and she didn't give it.

Cross examination of the woman is expected to continue on Tuesday.

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