Saskatchewan

'I felt frozen': Woman who says she was raped by Plenty of Fish date asked in court why she didn't fight

A 48-year-old Regina woman testifies what started as a coffee date with a charming gentleman ended with him driving her outside city limits and raping her. The accused, 49, denies doing anything against her will, and the lawyers are battling over whether some questions in court contribute to the "rape myth." (Warning: Story contains graphic language and disturbing content.)

Crown objects to questions she said contribute to 'rape myth,' accused, 49, denies wrongdoing

Gioulian Nikdima, 49, is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm in the case of a Regina woman who accuses him of raping her after they met on a dating app. The trial is in Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench. (Gioulian Nikdima/Instagram)

Warning: Story contains graphic language and disturbing content. 

A 48-year-old Regina woman has testified that what started as a coffee date with a charming gentleman ended with him driving her outside city limits and raping her nearly three years ago.

Gioulian Nikdima, 49, has been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Both testified Monday before Justice Fred Kovach at Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench, with Nikdima denying he did anything against her will and that she instigated having sex.

The complainant, however, told Kovach that she felt terrified and still suffers daily flashbacks.

"I feel like it's my fault, but I said no. I remember saying no," testified the woman, who is not being identified because of a publication ban.  

All I could think of is, 'Dear God, it's going to be over soon.'- Alleged rape victim

A sexual assault nurse examiner, Stephanie Carlson, told the court that she has conducted more than 600 rape exams, and only once before has she seen an external anal injury as large as the one found on this woman.

A 'promising' date

In 2016, the woman received a message from "gioulian1869" on the online dating app Plenty of Fish. He told her he was a divorced father named John.

After a week of messages, they agreed to meet on Saturday, March 19, at 11 a.m. for coffee at The French Press café on south Albert Street.

The woman told the court that Nikdima insisted on paying for coffee and she thought it was sweet.

"It felt nice to be around someone who wants to be a gentleman. That doesn't happen much these days," she said, according to the court transcript.

She was looking for a life partner, but he said he was more interested in casual dating. The only time sex came up in conversation, she said, was when he told her, "'Don't worry, it's not about sex. I'm not looking for sex.'"

Their one-hour coffee date went so well that he invited her to continue on for lunch at Lancaster's in Harbour Landing, in the southwest corner of Regina. They took his BMW sports utility vehicle.

"It felt promising," she said.

But then, according to her testimony, the date took a horrible, violent turn.

'I felt frozen'

After lunch, when it was time for him to drive her back to her car, he drove south on Lewvan Drive out of the city. She thought he was lost. Then, she said, he told her, "'We'll go up here and go for a bit of a walk. It's a nice day.'"

Once they were outside the car, he kissed her. She said the first kiss was quick, but then he became "very forceful."

"He started grabbing, and pulling and twisting at my breasts," she told the court. "He said, 'Do you want to do it in the ditch or in the back seat of his car?' And I said, 'No, just can you take me to your car, and, like, this is too fast, this is not what I'm looking for.'"

She said he replied, "'It's OK, it's OK.'"

The woman testified that she did not feel safe.

"I felt very scared ... I'm not physically fit. I didn't think I could run."

When he guided her to the back seat, she said she planned to jump in, grab her purse off the passenger-side front seat, then hop out the other side door and get away. But the door wouldn't open, she testified, and she lost her escape route.

From there, she described how he yanked off her pants and forcibly penetrated her vaginally, pushed her face down to perform oral sex, then penetrated her anally.

"I felt frozen," the woman testified. 

"I couldn't fight. I was scared to fight, because he was stronger than I am. And there was really no room to fight," she said. "All I could think of is, 'Dear God, it's going to be over soon.'"

Afterward, she said, he handed her a tissue and told her to clean herself. She said he opened his sunroof and had a smile on his face. She had blood on her face where her head had banged repeatedly against the door. Then, she said, he thanked her for being his birthday present.

When the woman got home, she quickly deleted her Plenty of Fish profile, and filled her bathtub with "any cleaning chemical" she could find and scrubbed her body.

Woman did her own detective work

The woman's daughter convinced her to go to the hospital, and on the Monday evening, she went for a rape exam, where nurses documented bruises and lacerations. A police officer attended at the hospital, but decided not to take her statement back at the station that evening because it was late and snowing. She gave a videotaped statement to RCMP at White Butte detachment after the officer was back on shift, on Wednesday, March 23.

While the woman had only the fake name John and online profile information, she was able to use Google image search to track down Gioulian Nikdima on a Kijiji ad for painting services under the name Julian. She also logged into other dating apps and discovered two other accounts with his picture, Gioulian69 and johny_ni. The woman handed the information over to police. 
Nikdima was born in Albania and spent most of his adult years in Greece before immigrating to Canada in 2013. (Gioulian Nikdima/Instagram)

The woman told the court that tracking his digital footprint made her feel safer, but she was also worried "he was still out there, and might hurt someone else."

Contributing to 'rape myths'

During cross-examination, Nikdima's lawyer, Barry Nychuk, tried to poke holes in the woman's testimony. Senior Crown prosecutor Randene Zielke objected, saying Nychuk's questions were contributing to the "rape myth" — prejudicial or false beliefs about sexual assault victims that prove to undermine their credibility.

Nychuk asked the woman why she didn't cry while she answered RCMP questions on recorded video.

The woman had wiped tears away. However, she told the court, "I was in shock and I don't think I could cry."

Nychuk asked about how many times she said no to the accused and why she didn't fight.

"You let him do it. That's you consenting," Nychuk said.

"I couldn't move," the woman replied.

"You were frozen?" Nychuk asked.

"I was frozen. I couldn't push away, I couldn't speak," the woman said.

A bit later, the defence lawyer said, "You could have just laid back, true?... You could have resisted?"

The woman replied, "I was just trying to survive."

Nychuk also asked the woman why she didn't immediately call police.

"If it was so horrific, why didn't you phone the police that day?"

Zielke, the prosecutor, said that line of questioning contributed to "rape myth" and conclusions that the Supreme Court has deemed unacceptable.

"It is our opinion that it is based on myths and stereotypes of how victims of sexual assault behave," Zielke said.

Nychuk also pursued questions about the woman's weight — that she was 70 pounds heavier than the accused — and the style of her scream.

In the police interview, the woman was asked to re-enact her scream. Nychuk suggested it could have been misinterpreted as a "pleasure scream."

She replied, "I can't imagine anyone thinking that."

Nikdima accuses woman of jealousy

On Monday afternoon, the accused testified in his own defence.

Nikdima was born in Albania and spent most of his adult years in Greece before immigrating to Canada in 2013. With a Greek translator at his side, he told the court, "My English is not good."

Nikdima gave a dramatically different version of the date than the woman. He insisted the woman instigated everything, including the walk outside the city, then oral, vaginal and anal sex inside the vehicle.

He apologized for being graphic, but told the court, "She was so horny."

He said the woman forced him to go faster and screamed, "F--k me, f--k me, f--k me."

Nikdima said that when police arrested him at his home, he had no idea what it was about and willingly gave a statement to RCMP, despite his lawyer's advice not to, because he had nothing to hide.

The accused said he received a phone call from his beautiful ex-wife at the end of the date, and that the woman on the date may have been angry and jealous. The Crown will cross-examine Nikdima Tuesday.

The woman told the court she cries every day, can't trust people, and continues to blame herself that she "put myself in a position to get raped."

"I don't know how to be me anymore."

About the Author

Bonnie Allen

Senior Reporter

Bonnie Allen is a senior reporter for CBC News based in Saskatchewan. Before returning to Canada in 2013, Allen spent four years reporting from across Africa, including Libya, South Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone. She holds a Master's in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. @bonnieallenCBC