North

3rd attempt to try man accused of sexual assault underway in Behchoko

Chris Dryneck, was charged with sexual assault in November 2016 in relation to an incident on New Year's Day that year.

Chris Dryneck’s 1st trial declared mistrial after no Tlicho interpreter provided, lawyer in 2nd trial resigned

Chris Dryneck was charged with sexual assault in November 2016 in relation to an incident on New Year's Day that year. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

The third attempt to hold a trial for a man accused of sexual assault got underway in Behchoko, N.W.T., on Tuesday.

Chris Dryneck, was charged in November 2016 following an incident on New Year's Day that year.

His first trial was declared a mistrial in November 2017 after he was not provided a Tlicho language interpreter during the proceedings. A second attempt at trial in April 2019 was called off after his lawyer resigned.

The third trial began Tuesday in N.W.T. Supreme Court with lawyers presenting an agreed statement of facts in the case. It says Dryneck's DNA matches semen samples collected from a sexual assault examination of the complainant. 

The complainant, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, testified that on New Year's Eve, after attending a community dance and watching fireworks, a group of people including her family members and Dryneck came to her home. She said she does not have a relationship with Dryneck or his family.

The complainant said they were drinking, socializing and listening to music until the group became too loud and unruly, and she told them to leave.

Later that morning, she said her partner was sleeping in her bedroom when a friend picked her up on a snowmobile. They went to check on her sister and then for a ride before he dropped her off back at home. She said two of her cousins also visited her home that morning.

The complainant said after her cousins left, she locked the door to her home, which has a deadbolt, and then went to sleep beside her partner. She said they were the only ones in the home at the time. 

The complainant became visibly upset when she described waking up that morning to the lights on, with her pants off and Dryneck on top of her.

"I freaked out," she said. 

She asked Dryneck what he was doing and told him to get off of her, she said. He then apologized and quickly left the home. 

The complainant said she called her sister and told her what happened, then called the police. She could not wake up her partner who she said was by then asleep on the couch.

When asked if she discussed sex with Dryneck, she said, "How could I say that when I was sleeping?"

Defence questions memory of events

During cross-examination, lawyer Jay Bran questioned the complainant's recollection of events, saying according to a report, she called the police at 2:00 a.m. and her partner was taken into custody until he was released between 10:00 and 11:00 that morning. 

The complainant said she doesn't remember calling the police and she recalls her partner being asleep in her home. 

"That was a long time ago. I was trying to forget all this," she said, adding she did not think she would have to testify again after the previous trial. 

Bran also suggested that a group of people including Dryneck came back to the residence around noon on New Year's Day to drink and socialize and that the complainant and Dryneck then had consensual sex.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you knew word was going to get around," he said.

The complainant vehemently denied the claim.

"If I gave him consent then I never would've gone through all this," she said, motioning to the court.

"He's a friggin' monster. That's gross," she added. "Stuff like this happens to so many women and they get away with it."

The complainant told the court the incident with Dryneck has had a negative effect on her, that she didn't want to go to work or talk to anyone including her partner for sometime afterward.

"I wasn't myself for awhile," she said.

The trial continues Wednesday in Behchoko at 9:30 a.m.