York University PhD student guilty in sex assault of student Mandi Gray

A judge has found a York University student guilty of sexually assaulting a 27-year-old PhD student from Winnipeg following a bar outing last year, and criticized the accused for trying to discredit the victim's testimony.

WARNING: This story contains graphic language

Mandi Gray says guilty verdict in her sexual assault case is not evidence of 'progress' in the system. (CBC News)

In a statement that surprised many in a Toronto courtroom, a judge delivered a speech about sexual violence and women's rights as he handed down a guilty verdict in the case of a York University student who sexually assaulted a fellow student. 

'Rape it was. No confusion. No uncertainty from this court. Mandi Gray remembered.'- Justice Marvin Zuker

Mustafa Ururyar was convicted of forcing Mandi Gray, who waived her right to a publication ban on her name, to perform oral sex and engage in sexual intercourse on Jan. 31, 2015.

Provincial court Judge Marvin Zuker shared a 178-page decision outlining his ruling and spoke in detail about consent and the treatment of sex assault complainants in the courtroom.

"Rape it was. No confusion. No uncertainty from this court. Mandi Gray remembered. Asking her to remember the details is ridiculous," he said. "Behavioural stereotypes — like delayed reporting, emotional state, lack of resistance — should not impact credibility."

Zuker quoted American poet Maya Angelou in his decision, his words invoking gasps from people in the courtroom: "I know why the caged bird sings."

Gray had testified she was sexually assaulted by Ururyar after they were at a bar on Bloor Street with friends and classmates. She said the two, both teaching assistants at York, had been casually dating. 

The court heard that on the morning of Jan. 31, Gray had been drinking and texted Ururyar to join her and a friend. "Come drink and then we can have hot sex," Gray's text to him said.

'A total fabrication'

Ururyar, who had pleaded not guilty, testified he had not been drinking and was not feeling well, but agreed to join the two. He alleged that Gray had "groped" him at the bar and that the two engaged in consensual sex. 

In his sentencing, the judge called Ururyar's narrative "a total fabrication." 
An Ontario Court Justice found York University PhD student Mustafa Ururyar, left, guilty of sexually assaulting his fellow student in January last year. (CBC News)

He said Ururyar, Gray and another woman were supposed to go home together, and that Gray alleged the accused got angry when the plan changed and the other woman left.

As they made their way back to Ururyar's apartment, Gray testified Ururyar hurled insults at her, calling her "needy" and "a slut." The judge found that Gray was not "lovey-dovey" on the way home.

Ururyar told the court the two arrived at his home, got undressed and got into bed. He said he wanted to end the relationship.

Gray said that's when he put his penis in her mouth and raped her. 

She reported the assault to police, and Ururyar was arrested and later released on bail. 

In a story published last year, Gray told CBC News she left school out of fear she might run into Ururyar on campus, and instead moved back home to Winnipeg.

The judge ruled Ururyar "tried to write the script" because he knew Gray could not remember because she had been drinking. But, he said, "It doesn't matter if the victim was drinking. No one asks to be raped."

He criticized Ururyar for his attempts to discredit Gray's testimony.

He said/she said testimony

The judge agreed that Gray went home with the accused by choice, but ruled that the sex was not consensual, although Ururyar testified that it was.

"This is a case where credibility is a primary issue," the judge said, referring to several behavioural stereotypes such as delayed reporting, emotional state and lack of resistance.

Gray reported the assault in hospital on Feb 1 and to police on Feb 2.

Zuker decision referred to a number of precedents, noting how the victim behaves during or after a sexual assault should not affect their credibility.

Statement from Mandi Gray

Gray released a statement following the verdict.

"I am tired of people talking to me like I won some sort of 'rape lottery' because the legal system did what it was supposed to," it reads. "Justice within a sexual assault case, regardless of the verdict, will always remain an illusion."

She said her case should not be regarded as "progress" within the legal system.

"Accepting things simply as they are because 'they could be worse' is the antithesis of progress."

In his sentencing, Justice Marvin Zuker called the accused's narrative 'a total fabrication' and criticized him for trying to discredit Gray's testimony. (CBC)
Supporters of Gray, some of them former York University students, filled the court as the judge announced his decision.

Applause filled the court as Zuker declared, "The Crown has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilty as charged."

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.

A spokeswoman with the tribunal confirmed that the case is going to mediation in September and will likely be scheduled for a hearing if the parties don't settle.

York University also released a statement saying that the school approved a new sexual assault policy last year and hopes to implement better procedures to support sexual assault victims on campus. 

"We appreciate how challenging the criminal justice process is for survivors of sexual violence and we respect Mandi and others for their decision to pursue it," the statement read. "We are looking at how we can further strengthen measures to support survivors ... Today's verdict may be helpful in that regard."

Both Ururyar and his lawyer declined to comment on the verdict. 

He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday morning to find out whether or not his bail has been revoked. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October. 

With files from Stephanie Matteis