Former Saint Mary's groundskeeper accused of sexual assault in dorm

A man who worked as a groundskeeper at Saint Mary's University in Halifax is facing charges of sexual assault and voyeurism after a woman reported being sexually assaulted in a residence room on Sept. 15.

Alleged assault on Sept. 15 in university dorm was reported to residence staff

The alleged assault happened on campus on Sept. 15. (CBC)

A former groundskeeper at Saint Mary's University in Halifax is facing a charge of sexual assault and voyeurism in relation to an incident in a dorm on Sept. 15. 

Halifax Regional Police allege Matthew Albert Percy sexually assaulted a woman in a residence on Gorsebrook Avenue and recorded it on a phone. 

Police say he was initially arrested Sept. 15 after residence staff called police at 4 a.m. to report that a woman asked them to call because she'd been assaulted by someone she knew. 

Initially, Percy was questioned and then released without charges. He was arrested again on the afternoon of Nov. 29, police said. 

Percy no longer working at SMU

Margaret Murphy, the university's associate vice-president of external affairs, said Percy was working for the school at the time of the assault and "subsequently" stopped working there. She would not specify when or under what circumstances.

She said the school did not send any campus-wide bulletins about the alleged assault. She said police stressed the need to protect the victim's identity and that remained a priority. 

Margaret Murphy is the associate vice-president of external affairs at Saint Mary's University. (CBC)

"There was outreach directly to individuals, more of a personal touch," she said. "The police responded very quickly, almost immediately, and certainly took charge of this case and we've followed their direction, including the need to respect the well-being of the victim."

She said the university followed its sexual assault policy and that generally, it offers "counselling and supports to students and staff and others in the vicinity who might have been aware that there was an incident." 

Due to appear in court Tuesday

Percy appeared in Halifax provincial court Nov. 30 and remained in custody. He is due to appear in court again on Dec. 5. 

Const. Dianne Penfound said investigations of this nature are "very complex." 

"As part of our victim-centred, trauma-informed approach to sexualized violence, we work closely with victims to ensure they're willing to proceed with a police investigation, which includes giving a statement about the incident," she said in a statement. 

About the Author

Elizabeth McMillan

Elizabeth McMillan is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Over the past nine years, she has reported from the edge of the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Coast and loves sharing people's stories. She can be reached at elizabeth.mcmillan@cbc.ca