Calgary

22 years after rape, victim's handwritten account read aloud at trial

It's been 22 years since "Maureen" was raped and even though she didn't live to see charges laid, Wayne Bernard's sexual assault trial began Monday.

Wayne Bernard is charged with sexual assault with a weapon, kidnapping and robbery

Wayne Bernard is on trial, accused of raping a woman 22 years ago. (Janice Fletcher)

More than two decades ago, a frightened 51-year-old woman flagged down two passers-by in a truck and managed to sputter out two words: "Been raped."

Now, 22 years later, the trial for the man accused of raping her has begun. 

Maureen — not her real name, a publication ban protects her identity — died of cancer at the age of 63 without ever seeing charges laid in her case. 

Wayne Bernard, 55, is charged with sexual assault with a weapon, kidnapping and robbery. 

"This trial is about a woman ... and what happened to her on March 28, 1995," said Crown prosecutor Pamela McCluskey in her opening statement to jurors as the trial began Monday in Calgary.

Bernard was charged in 2014, after a detective sent some of the items from Maureen's case to the lab for testing, said McCluskey.

Rapist pretended to be a cop

Because she can't testify, a statement written for police in Maureen's own hand was read aloud by prosecutor Samina Dhalla. 

On the night of March 28, 1995, Maureen was working alone at a local catering company preparing food for the next day. She heard banging at the back door, according to her account. 

"City police; we are looking for a fugitive," a man yelled from the other side of the door.

Once she opened the door, she described a man who came at her slapping at her head and face, knocking her glasses off. 

Inside, the man demanded she get on the floor and asked for money. When Maureen dumped out her purse, she only had two loonies, an American dollar bill and a few quarters.

'I am an old woman ... you don't want me'

Smelling of alcohol, the man then took Maureen's keys and escorted her to her van outside, making her lie down in the back, according to the statement.  

He drove to the outskirts of the city, to an area Maureen described as a gravel pit

"I gave him two or three kicks," wrote Maureen. "Then I really got scared."

After threatening to choke and stab her, Maureen said she complied with his demands to tie a white smock around her eyes.

"I'm going to make love to you," the stranger told Maureen.

"Please don't, I am an old woman," she begged. "I wet my pants, you don't want me." 

Good Samaritan stops to help

After he raped her, the man made Maureen get out of her van and took off. She ran to the road and flagged down a truck. Chad Hill and his then-girlfriend stopped.

"I was shocked to see her," said Hill, who was the prosecution's first witness. "She was very distraught, she didn't talk in full sentences ... she was pretty hysterical, crying."

She'd only been able to get out those two words: "been raped." Hill, who was 25 years old at the time, offered to take her home, to the hospital or to a police station. Maureen chose to go home.

"I just wanted to get her some help," he said. "It was a pretty traumatic scene."

Granddaughter born day of rape

At home, Maureen's 20-year-old daughter, who lived with her at the time, answered the door. 

"I see my mom standing there with two strangers that I have never met in my life," the daughter testified.

Maureen was having trouble breathing and standing on her own. 

After police arrived, Maureen got a call. In the middle of giving police the details of her rape, she received the news that she had become a grandmother.

"It should have been a very happy day," said McCluskey. "But it wasn't because something horrible happened."

Cold case detective runs DNA 19 years later

Maureen was taken to hospital where a rape kit was done. 

During their investigation, Bernard approached an officer who was guarding the area around Maureen's place of work, which had been taped off by police. He said he needed to retrieve his work van and police let him in the contained area.

Police did not have dealings with Bernard again until he was arrested in 2014.

"Despite thorough investigation, the crime went unsolved," said McCluskey.

In 2014, a cold case detective reopened the case and sent some of the items collected nearly two decades earlier to the lab for testing. Some items, including semen found on and in Maureen came back with "a very strong match" to Bernard's DNA.

Although two weeks have been set aside for the trial, the prosecution expects to wrap its case at the end of this week. 

Bernard is being represented by defence lawyers Rebecca Snukal and Pawel Milczarek.

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