Nova Scotia

Former SMU groundskeeper accused of 4 sex assaults faces renewed cross-examination

Matthew Percy, 35, testified Friday in Halifax provincial court that he is respectful of women, despite graphic texts sent to friends describing sex acts and a woman's genitals and breasts.

Matthew Percy, 35, denies video he took of alleged sexual assault is a 'trophy'

Matthew Percy, on trial for sexual assault, is shown outside a Halifax provincial court courtroom on June 19. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

A former Saint Mary's University groundskeeper accused of a series of sexual assaults testified Friday he is respectful of women, despite graphic texts sent to friends describing sex acts and a woman's genitals and breasts.

Matthew Percy, 35, returned to Halifax provincial court to face continued cross-examination in his trial related to one of four women he is accused of sexually assaulting.

Percy is charged with sexually assaulting a Saint Mary's University student in September 2017. He is also accused of secretly filming the two and faces a charge of voyeurism.

The woman has told the court Percy forced her to have sex at his Halifax apartment, and filmed it without her knowledge. Percy has said the sex was consensual, and the woman agreed to the video. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In his previous testimony, Percy said he is respectful of women. But Crown attorney Rick Woodburn challenged that testimony on Friday morning, referencing a crude text message Percy sent to a friend.

"Does that sound like something someone who respects women would say?" Woodburn asked.

Percy shrugged off the comments as "the way guys talk" and asked, "What are you getting at?"

Judge Bill Digby asked Percy to answer the question and Percy said, "You can't narrow down my respect for women off of one text message."

Woodburn responded, "Oh, all right. Let's try another one then."

Percy faces a series of charges involving four different women. They include two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of voyeurism, two counts of choking, and one of assault.

The charges involving the fourth woman were laid earlier this week for an incident alleged to have happened in 2013. Percy made his first court appearance on those charges on Friday morning. He remains in custody.

The alleged incidents happened at different times and are being dealt with in separate trials. The identities of the women are protected by a publication ban.

The trial involving a second woman will begin on Aug. 27. Percy is also expected to make his election and pleas for the new charges at that time.

Kept video of sex with victim

On Friday morning, Woodburn asked Percy why he deleted messages between himself and the woman in the September 2017 incident, but kept the video he recorded.

"Just to have it," Percy replied, adding the woman agreed to the video. He denied he used the video for sexual gratification or as "a trophy."

When asked why he took the video in the first place, Percy said, "It arouses me."

The accused and the Crown got into a verbal tussle several times during Friday's cross-examination with Percy asking Woodburn, "Have you never had sex before? People talk during sex."

Finally, after one testy exchange, the judge admonished: "Will one of you stop interrupting the other or we're going to go all day."

Victim shown video

The woman, 22, testified in June that she met Percy on the university campus, where she was a student and he was a groundskeeper at the time.

She told court she had about three casual conversations with Percy from the time she met him in the spring of 2017 until the night of the alleged incident.

On that night, they met at a downtown bar. She said she drank more alcohol than usual and wanted to go home but when the two were in a taxi together, Percy told the driver to take them to his place.

She said she also told Percy she did not want to have sex with him but he forced himself on her. At one point, she said she "just wanted to get out of there alive."

The woman testified she did not know he was recording the incident and broke down when the video was played in court with Percy and others in the courtroom. She said the video made her feel "violated," "disgusted" and "embarrassed."

Percy said on Friday the video is "clearly evident" that the sex was consensual.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Aug. 15.

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