Mandi Gray says sexual assault case has put her life on pause for 2 years

York University PhD student Mandi Gray speaks about her challenges in moving forward with her legal action just one day after a court ruled in her favour and found her fellow student guilty of sexual assault.

'I've kind of moved forward, but this case just remains looming over me'

'I've had my entire life put on pause': Mandi Gray wouldn't report sexual assault again

6 years ago
Duration 1:43
The woman at the heart of a case that saw a fellow doctoral student convicted of sexually assaulting her says that despite the guilty verdict, if this were to happen again she wouldn't report the assault.

York University PhD student Mandi Gray stood in front of Toronto's Old City Hall courthouse on Thursday feeling vindicated, but not victorious.

The judge handed down a guilty verdict to convict a fellow York doctoral student of sexually assaulting her in January 2015.

But on Friday, Gray told CBC Radio's Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that if it were to happen again, she wouldn't report it.

"I've had my entire life put on pause for the last two years now. I've had six days of court spread out over six months. I've dealt with the sexual assault itself through therapy, through political activism. I've kind of moved forward, but this case just remains looming over me," says Gray, who adds she's pleased with the outcome, but finds it unusual.

"I don't want to give anybody the false hope that this is what is going to happen if you report. Things just lined up for me. I had an amazing Crown attorney. I had an amazing judge."

Gray has also spoken openly about the hurdles she says sexual assault survivors face within the legal system.

"The verdict that the judge delivered is absolutely beautiful, it was amazing in so many ways, so atypical, but I don't think that that can erase all the barriers that were placed in front of me to getting to this place," says Gray.

The woman says if she didn't have the financial resources and emotional support from family, friends and colleagues, she would have dropped out of the process long ago.

Know your rights

Gray explains how the challenges began when she reported the sexual assault in February 2015 to police. She says the detective she dealt with allegedly discouraged her from reporting the assault because she had been drinking and went willingly into her fellow student's apartment.

She says the difficulties continued when a defence lawyer questioned her sexual history and therapy records, despite court rulings that disallowed that line of questioning.

Gray notes that most victim witnesses don't know their rights on the stand.

"I don't want to give anybody the sense that this is typical. Unless things change with the very first people who respond to sexual assault, the police, I really don't see this as necessarily encouraging people to come forward."

Gray has also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging that York University discriminated against her after she reported the assault.