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St. F.X. sexual assault trial hears closing arguments

The Municipality of the County of Antigonish has decided to continue its ownership of the Antigonish County Courthouse. File
The judge-alone trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Antigonish heard from 13 witnesses over two weeks of testimony. - Corey LeBlanc
ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

Closing arguments in the joint trial of Jonah Williams and Tyler Ball on a single count each of sexual assault focused on whether consent existed for a threesome that occurred during a wine-soaked party at St. Francis Xavier University two years ago.

The judge-alone trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Antigonish heard from 13 witnesses over two weeks of testimony.

The alleged victim told the court she was having consensual sex with Williams in his dorm room when he invited in a group of four male students – three of whom played with him on the X-Men football team – to refill their drinks.

She testified that he asked if any of them wanted to engage in a “seven-some.”

Two of the young men who came into the room that night backed the testimony of Williams and Ball that Williams then asked the woman directly if she would be OK with engaging in a threesome.

For her part, the alleged victim testified that she would never agree to a threesome with someone she didn’t know.

Ball testified that he asked the woman directly, with whom he had never spoken before, if she was alright with it and saw Williams ask again after the other men left the dorm room.

“How many more times could Jonah Williams have asked (the woman) if she was consenting?” defence lawyer Craig Garson said during his closing submissions.

The Crown took a different view.

Prosecutors pointed to the victim having consumed a marijuana brownie earlier in the evening along with at least two vodka coolers and a half bottle of white wine.

“She was lying naked in the bed when four young men, all strangers, and three of whom are football players, come into the room,” Crown attorney Courtney MacNeil said during her closing statements.

“In this context (the woman)  is asked if she wants to take part in a threesome.”

MacNeil argued that even if Williams and Ball were being truthful in their statements that she said, “Sure, I don’t care,” when asked about group sex, that according to the alleged victim at some point that consent was withdrawn.

According to precedent case law on the issue of sexual assault, consent must be ongoing, the Crown said. 

“What should I do with the testimony of (the residence assistant)?” Justice Timothy Gabriel asked MacNeil.

The RA testified earlier in the trial that she and another St F.X. staff member had intervened midway through the alleged incident and spoke with both Williams and the woman independently. The RA told the court that the woman had told them she was “OK” and her friends were “over-reacting.”

The two university staffers then let Ball and Williams return to the room and close the door behind them.

“It is our submission that after that point in time that something drastically changed,” MacNeil replied.

Justice Gabriel reserved his decision until a later date.

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