Nova Scotia

Woman testifies former police chief placed his hand inside her underwear

The young woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by John Collyer says she looked up to the former Bridgewater police chief and "felt hurt" by his actions.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details about an alleged sexual assault

Former Bridgewater police chief John Collyer is on trial for sexual assault and sexual exploitation. (CBC)

The young woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by John Collyer says she looked up to the former Bridgewater police chief and "felt hurt" by his actions.

She was 17 at the time of the alleged offences in 2016. Collyer was charged the following year with sexual assault and sexual exploitation after a lengthy investigation by the Serious Incident Response Team.

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Bridgewater heard how the pair had a close relationship over a period of several years. The young woman and her mother both testified that Collyer and his wife "did a lot" for their family and they trusted him.

Graphic details about the alleged incident were also revealed by the victim in court.

According to the woman, Collyer took her for a drive and asked whether she had ever made herself orgasm. When she responded that she had not, she said Collyer put his hands between her legs, pushed her underwear aside and inserted his fingers into her vagina.

The young woman said she didn't say anything to Collyer or anyone else about the interaction on that day. She eventually broke her silence to investigators during an interview a few months later.

"The complainant at the time did not divulge what had occurred and it only came to light when the Facebook messages were discovered," said Crown attorney Roland Levesque.

"It was a matter of days after the mother found the Facebook messages that things evolved very quickly."

Online messages

Levesque questioned the victim about the content of those messages, including one from Collyer's Facebook account that allegedly said she was hot and another that implied he was "liquored up" and it wouldn't be safe to be alone in her room.

She replied that she felt "very uncomfortable" about those messages. 

The victim said she corresponded with Collyer on different electronic devices, and she said he often used his cellphone to message her. 

On Wednesday, the court heard that Collyer lost his phone the same week he was notified of a police investigation. Collyer is expected to take the stand in his own defence.

Deadline concerns

For a brief period, it was questionable whether the trial could proceed and whether it was at risk of being thrown out due to time limits imposed by the Jordan decision.

That decision requires that all cases make their way through the court system within 30 months. The deadline for the Collyer case is Nov. 3, 2019.

Originally, six days had been set aside, with the trial scheduled to end on Monday. The Crown expects it will need that entire day to finish presenting evidence, while defence lawyer David Bright told the court he will need approximately two days to call witnesses, including Collyer.

Dates were arranged for a week in September to complete the trial.