Saskatoon motel owner John Pontes guilty of groping guest in back hallway in 2017

A Saskatoon judge ruled that Northwoods Inns and Suites owner John Pontes is guilty of sexually assaulting a female guest in 2017.

Pontes not guilty of threatening woman to have non-consensual intercourse under threat of eviction

John Pontes, in hat, says he won't comment while he still has charges outstanding. (CBC)

A Saskatoon judge ruled that motel owner John Pontes groped a female guest in a back hallway at the Northwoods Inn and Suites in the summer of 2017.

But Judge Morris Baniak found the 75-year-old not guilty of forcing the same guest to have non-consensual intercourse under threat of eviction.

Defence lawyer Patrick Fagan said outside court that he'll have to digest the judge's reasoning in the 22-page judgement before making sentencing arguments in February,

"Well, he was found not guilty of extortion," Fagan said.

"He was found not guilty of what we would have called, years ago, 'rape'. But he was found guilty, within a singular count of section 271 of the Criminal Code, sexual assault, he was found guilty of touching her breast."

In reviewing the evidence from the trial, Baniak said his ruling largely came down to assessing the credibility of Pontes and the complainant.

He said that the woman's testimony around what happened in the late afternoon of June 2, 2017 rang true.

"Her testimony with respect to the afternoon episode was not seriously challenged or materially discredited. I believe her," he said.

But he had difficulties with the allegations from that evening. The woman alleged that Pontes had summoned her to his personal suite and sexually assaulted her.

"Her account of what happened on the night of the same day is less coherent. It is not as straightforward, and more difficult to follow."

Baniak added that it was "noteworthy" to comment on evidence not presented at trial by prosecutor Sheryl Fillo.

There were no medical reports or evidence from any medical personnel; no "rape kit" results; no clothing; no DNA evidence; no incriminating evidence from the accused's suite.

"For whatever reason, the Crown was unable, or chose not to tender this evidence."

Pontes will be back in court in February for sentencing.

He also faces a second trial that month on a separate sexual assault allegation.

About the Author

Dan Zakreski

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.