CORNER BROOK — A man who has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman will find out in late February whether or not the court will accept the alleged victim’s version of what he did to her.
A special hearing had to be held in the matter of Utley Augustus Parsons, 71, of Corner Brook after there were discrepancies between what the woman initially told police, and what she later said in a second statement to authorities and testified to during a preliminary inquiry.
The woman first told police Parsons had touched her legs and breast on different occasions and had made sexual propositions to her involving money. Later, she changed the circumstances of the incidents to include digital penetration.
Parsons has other outstanding sex-related charges involving a second female set to go to trial in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in the spring.
During final arguments made in provincial court involving the first woman Tuesday, defence lawyer Robby Ash said the victim was trying to “take advantage” of his client’s “vulnerability” now that he has admitted his guilt to inappropriate behaviour toward her. Ash told Judge Kymil Howe that the woman could have changed her story after learning what type of sentence the Crown may seek for a conviction involving the less aggravating circumstances she initially reported to police.
Ash noted that the woman, when questioned, was unable to recall specific details of most of the incidents she reported in the second statement given to police after the guilty plea.
Crown attorney Mike Fox took exception to the defence’s allegation that the victim was trying to capitalize on the guilty plea already entered by Parsons. He said the woman was unfamiliar with the justice system and thought she would be afforded the opportunity to elaborate on the incidents during the preliminary inquiry.
Fox said the woman didn’t know she could give a second statement to the police until later in the process.
“There was no ulterior motive ... only a lack of understanding (of the judicial process),” Fox told the court.
Further, said the Crown attorney, the defence is wrong to make any assumptions about how a victim of a sexual assault should act or what they should say when they first come forward and disclose what has happened to them.
Judge Howe said she will likely need portions of the preliminary inquiry transcribed before she can make her decision on this matter. Her decision has been scheduled for Feb. 27.