Nova Scotia

'I remember it plain as day,' woman says of alleged sexual assault

The young woman who is accusing former Bridgewater, N.S., police chief John Collyer of sexual assault fought back tears on the witness stand Friday under questioning from the trial's defence lawyer.

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

Former Bridgewater, N.S., police chief John Collyer speaks with his lawyer on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (CBC)

The young woman who is accusing former Bridgewater, N.S., police chief John Collyer of sexual assault fought back tears on the witness stand Friday.

The young woman, who is now 20, was visibly upset and agitated by defence lawyer David Bright's questioning during cross-examination at the fifth day of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial in Bridgewater.

She was 17 at the time of the alleged offence in 2016. Collyer was charged the following year with sexual assault and sexual exploitation. He was later removed from his position as chief of Bridgewater Police Service.

Collyer has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

On Thursday, the complainant testified for the Crown about the graphic details she alleges occurred while driving in Collyer's two-seat sports car with him in the spring of 2016.

'I remember it plain as day'

She said while Collyer was driving down the highway, he asked if she had ever made herself orgasm. When she responded no, she said he reached over, put his hands between her legs, moved her underwear aside and put his fingers inside her. She said she never consented and the touching didn't last very long.

Bright tried to point out discrepancies in the victim's recollection of events, to which she responded: "I remember it plain as day what happened in that car on that day."

The alleged victim previously testified about her family's close relationship with Collyer, and how she personally looked up to him.

Message history

During cross-examination on Friday, Bright asked the young woman about her Facebook correspondence with Collyer. She admitted in court that when investigators from the Serious Incident Response Team first asked her about the messages in 2016, she lied to them by saying she didn't know anything about them. She said at the time she "just didn't want to talk about it."

The victim said she kept the whole incident a secret, and it was only when her mother found messages between her and Collyer a few months later that she disclosed the alleged sexual assault.

Investigators found nearly 600 messages between Collyer and the young woman. However, the contents of most messages had been deleted. Officers were not able to verify who deleted the messages.

During cross-examination, the victim said she deleted messages after speaking with investigators.

"I didn't want to sit and read messages that made me upset or made me depressed. When I deleted them, you guys already had the messages," she said, referring to both Crown and defence lawyers.

The trial will continue Monday with testimony from a retired RCMP member who interviewed Collyer. The entire five-hour police interview will be played in court.

About the Author

Angela MacIvor is CBC Nova Scotia's investigative reporter. She has been with CBC since 2006 as a reporter and producer in all three Maritime provinces. All news tips welcome. Send an email to cbcnsinvestigates@cbc.ca