North

Jury trial underway for 2 accused of sexually assaulting teen in Yellowknife

The jury trial of two men accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2015 began Monday in N.W.T. Supreme Court.

Jesse McNiven and Fraser McGurk are accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated teenage girl in 2015

Jesse McNiven, centre left, and Fraser McGurk, centre right, are both accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in Yellowknife in June 2015. (Travis Burke/CBC)

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

The jury trial of two men accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in Yellowknife in 2015 began Monday in N.W.T. Supreme Court.

Jesse McNiven and Fraser McGurk allegedly forced the victim to engage in oral, vaginal and anal sex while she was extremely intoxicated. The assault allegedly took place in McGurk's Yellowknife home in the early morning hours of June 28, 2015. McNiven was 19 years old at the time and McGurk was 18.

The woman, now 24, testified Monday afternoon by video. Her identity is protected by a publication ban.

She told the court she was celebrating her high school graduation and was at a party. She said she had been drinking heavily most of the night. After leaving the party with some friends, she testified that she received a message on Snapchat from a former schoolmate inviting her to McGurk's house around 3 a.m. She said the schoolmate called her a cab.

She told the court that after arriving at McGurk's house she blacked out and awoke in McGurk's bedroom with the schoolmate on top of her having sex with her. That schoolmate is now deceased. She said that at some point, McGurk and McNiven entered the room.

"They said something about having turns with me," she told the court.

She said she blacked out again and awoke to the two men sexually assaulting her at the same time.

Crown prosecutor Jacqueline Halliburn asked if she ever consented to the encounter. The woman forcefully said "absolutely not." Halliburn asked if the woman felt free to leave or to refuse to partake in the encounter. "No," she answered.

"I remember expressing I was uncomfortable and stressed out. I remember using those words," the woman testified.

She said she remembers the two accused men "egging" each other on. She testified that the two men told her they were going to put the encounter on Snapchat. She said she told them not to, but doesn't know if they did post anything to the social media platform.

The woman testified that she once again blacked out and awoke to her wrists taped together with silver duct tape. She said a piece of duct tape was also over her mouth. She said she didn't remember how it got there.

She blacked out another time and awoke with just her and McNiven in the bedroom. She said he repeatedly sexually assaulted her. She said she told him not to, but that he continued.

The woman testified that it was years later that she came to the realization that what happened was sexual assault. She made a statement to police about the alleged encounter three years later in 2018.

During cross-examination, McGurk's lawyer, Charles Davison, asked the woman about specific mundane details from the night. She repeatedly answered that she didn't remember. Davison also asked whether she ever had a conversation with McNiven and McGurk that night giving her consent to have sex with them.

"Knowing my own values I would never ask for group sex. I would never ask to be taped. I was a 17-year-old kid," she answered.

"Through everything I remember about what was said in that room, I was never addressed as a person."

Davison will finish his cross-examination Tuesday morning, and then McNiven's lawyer, Jay Bran, will begin his own.

Both men are charged with sexual assault according to Section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The trial is expected to finish on Friday. 

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story contained more details about the alleged assault. Some of those details have been removed to conform with CBC's language guide.
    Jul 05, 2022 1:15 PM CT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hilary Bird

Reporter

Hilary Bird is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She has been reporting on Indigenous issues and politics for almost a decade and has won several national and international awards for her work. Hilary can be reached at hilary.bird@cbc.ca

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