Nova Scotia

Defendant in Halifax sexual assault trial admits to 'rough' but consensual sex

Matthew Percy said in a 2014 police interview that he engaged in "rough" sex with a woman who alleges she was violently sexually assaulted, but he says it was all consensual. Day four of his trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax took place Friday.

WARNING: Some of the content in the story may be disturbing

Matthew Percy is shown outside a Halifax provincial court courtroom on June 19, 2018. He has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault causing bodily harm and is being tried by a judge alone. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

The defendant in a Halifax sexual assault trial admitted to having "rough" sex with a young woman he met at a downtown bar in 2014, but he said he never meant to hurt her.

Matthew Percy, 36, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm and is standing trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in front of a judge alone.

On Friday, the fourth day of the trial, the Crown showed video of Percy in a police interrogation one week after the incident. He cried through much of the interview, which lasted about 27 minutes at the Gottingen Street police station.

Percy said he went out with friends on the night of Dec. 5, 2014, to "blow off some steam." He was stressed because his mother had recently had a stroke and his stepfather had also recently been in hospital.

Percy said he met the complainant at Cheers, where they flirted and agreed to leave together to get a bite to eat. After getting poutine, he said they took a cab back to her apartment-style dorm on the Dalhousie University campus.

The trial is being held at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

The woman, who is now 24, can't be named because of a publication ban. She testified in court earlier this week that when she and Percy got back to her dorm, his demeanour quickly changed from kind and thoughtful to aggressive.

She said he ordered her to perform oral sex; hit, bit and choked her; and anally raped her.

"I said no so many times. He did not stop," the woman said in her testimony.

She said that at one point she tried to get Percy to put a condom on, but he refused.

Percy's account

Under police questioning, Percy described the same sex acts as the complainant, but he said they were all consensual. He said he didn't wear a condom because he simply forgot to put one on.

"She kept saying, 'Take me, take me, take me,'" he said in the video.

Percy said he had to convince her to engage in anal sex, but "she finally said, 'OK.'"

He told the police constable that aside from cheating on his then-girlfriend, he didn't think he had done anything wrong — he just wanted a one-night stand.

After sleeping at the woman's apartment, Percy got up and left in the morning without speaking to her, according to his police statement.

Testimony from the woman's friend

A friend of the complainant also testified Friday, telling the court that the complainant was "crying inconsolably" the morning after the alleged attack.

The woman told the court she and the complainant were roommates at the time of the incident and are still friends.

CBC News is not naming the friend so as to protect the identity of the complainant.

The friend said they spent part of the night of Dec. 5, 2014, together, drinking at their apartment before going downtown to dance at Cheers.

She said they were both very drunk. Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn asked her to describe their intoxication on a scale of one to 10 — one being sober and 10 being falling down drunk. The friend said she and the complainant were both an eight.

The friends parted ways and didn't see each other again until the next morning when the friend returned home, according to her testimony. That's when she found the woman "crying inconsolably" and lying on her side in her bed.

The complainant told her roommate about the encounter with Percy and described it as non-consensual, the friend told the court.

The woman's injuries

The friend recalled seeing a bruise on her roommate's neck, and said the complainant showed her a bruise on her backside, too.

The friend said the marks were new — she hadn't seen them on her roommate the night before.

The complainant reported the assault to police on Dec. 8 and was examined by nurses later on the same day.

Photos

The friend reviewed photos of bruises that were taken during the exam and said they were the same as the ones she saw the morning after the alleged assault, but they looked "better" in the photos.

The friend cried as she reviewed the photos on the witness stand, and set them aside for a few moments to compose herself before continuing her testimony.

In his police interrogation, Percy said he noticed scrapes and bruises on the woman's buttocks after she performed oral sex on him, but he said she explained it away as stretch marks.

The friend said she and a third roommate discussed the complainant's options with her, including going to a resident assistant (RA), a hospital or the police.

The woman decided to go to police, which was a decision the friend said the complainant made "100 per cent" independently.

The friend said her roommate appeared physically pained for the duration of the day, grimacing when she tried to sit or walk. She said the woman seemed "angry," "embarrassed," "hurt" and "depressed."

Cross-examination

On cross-examination, defence attorney Peter Planetta asked the friend about her first police statement, which was made in 2018.

She said she got a call from police who indicated the complainant's case had been reopened and they would need her written statement.

The friend said she and the complainant were together at the time of the call, but they didn't discuss the case afterwards.

Planetta pressed her on the matter and the friend said she and the complainant had both taken forensic psychology classes and knew not to talk about the case to each other.

DNA evidence

The court also heard Friday from a Halifax police officer who collected forensic evidence from the woman's apartment on Dec. 10, four days after the incident.

Det. Const. James Wasson said he found DNA evidence on the bathroom floor, which he swabbed and sent for testing. It was later matched to a DNA sample from Percy.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard from two police constables who took the complainant's statement at the Gottingen Street police station. They said she was emotional and cried while she described the incident.

The court also heard from one of the two sexual assault nurses who examined the complainant on Dec. 8, 2014.

The nurse who testified said she recorded details of the woman's injuries, including a bite-mark pattern on her back, bruising on her buttocks and signs of genital trauma.

Other trials

This is the third sexual assault trial for Percy, who was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting another woman. He was acquitted in a separate sexual assault case that same year.

Percy faces another trial later this year for sexual assault causing bodily harm, choking to overcome resistance and assault in relation to an incident in 2013 involving a woman he knew.

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