2019-07-17

Accuser finishes testimony in sex crimes trial of former police chief



The 20 year old woman who alleges Bridgewater's then-police chief sexually exploited and assaulted her when she was under the age of 18 was tested by the defence on her recollection of events before her testimony concluded July 12 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

David Bright, representing the accused, John William Collyer, spent the better part of the day's proceedings questioning the complainant on timelines, life events, and the allegations before the court.

The complainant, whose name is prohibited from publication by court order, testified July 11 that Collyer, who was Bridgewater's top cop from 2011 to 2018, touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her while they were in a vehicle together three years ago. Collyer and the complainant knew each other and, court was told July 11, the families of the two had enjoyed a positive relationship over a period of years.

Collyer, 55, of Crouses Settlement in Lunenburg County, is accused of touching the young girl with his hand for a sexual purpose and sexually assaulting her between May and July of 2016. His trial is being heard by Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge alone. He's pleaded not guilty to the allegations. It's anticipated he'll testify at some point during the trial in his own defence.

July 10 testimony largely featured evidence from Gord Vail of the province's independent police oversight agency - the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) - who lead the investigation into Collyer.

The testimony centred around hundreds of social media messages exchanged between Collyer and the teenage complainant three to four years ago.

However, not all of those communications were retainable, leaving inconsistencies between the suggestive content captured in screen-grabs by the girl's mother and what Facebook produced for the investigation.

The girl's mother and a close family friend testified that suggestive communications with Collyer were found on a social media account belonging to the teen in 2016. The mother showed the content to her family physician, setting in motion an alert to the RCMP and involvement of SIRT.

Judicial authorizations were executed in relation to the case, resulting in the seizures of computer equipment. The girl also gave a statement to SIRT.

Collyer was placed on administrative leave in August 2016 after it went public that SIRT was investigating his actions. He was suspended in May 2017 when word came that SIRT laid charges.

He had been a member of the Bridgewater's police force between 1990 and 2018. He rose to the rank of deputy chief in 2009 before becoming chief.

Submissions by Bright, and Crown prosecutor Roland Levesque, made it clear additional court time is needed to finish the proceedings in order to satisfy parameters of an unrelated Supreme Court of Canada decision that places deadlines on how much time is allowable to try a person accused of summary or indictable offences.

Six days had been set aside for the trial but court dates in September were reserved to continue the case beyond July 15, which was supposed to be the final day.

Levesque is expected to continue presenting the Crown's case July 15.

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