Woman testifies she was sexually assaulted by Newfoundland and Labrador officer
Published Thursday, September 17, 2020 8:21PM ADT
Douglas Snelgrove sits prior to the start of his trial at a St. John's school acting as an off-site location for the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. A last-minute scramble for jury members has delayed the trial for a Newfoundland and Labrador police officer accused of sexual assault. Jury selection for the trial of Douglas Snelgrove, a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer, wrapped up Tuesday and his trial was set to begin today. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sarah Smellie)
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Standing in the witness box of a St. John's courtroom Thursday, a woman testified that she thought she'd be safe getting a ride home from a police officer after a night of drinking with friends in December 2014.
The woman, who was 21 years old at the time, said she remembers being drunk, letting the officer into her home, and kissing him. She testified she was too drunk to stand that night and went to sit down on her couch.
"The next thing I recall is I came to and he was having anal sex with me," she told the court on the first day of the sexual assault retrial of Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Doug Snelgrove.
Snelgrove first stood trial for the alleged assault in 2015. The verdict was successfully appealed, and a new trial was ordered.
The woman told the court she'd been drinking the night of the alleged assault, first at a friend's house and then at a downtown bar. She said she realized at the bar that she was too drunk to be out.
"I felt that I was unsafe and that I was too intoxicated and that I needed to get home," she said.
Outside the bar in downtown St. John's, she said an officer in a police car rolled down the passenger side window and asked if she was okay. She said she told him she was going to get a cab and that he replied he would instead take her home.
"I thought it would be safer to go with a police officer if he was asking," she testified.
When they got to her house, she said she couldn't find her keys. She said she discovered later, however, that they were in her purse. She said the officer checked for another way into her basement apartment and managed to open a window.
"I'm not sure how I got in through the window, I just know my footprints were on the counter the next morning," she told the court.
She said she remembers letting him in the front door. "I remember standing up ... I remember talking," she said, her voice cracking. She said she remembers they kissed. The woman said she sat down on the couch, where she said he sexually assaulted her.
Snelgrove went into her bathroom, "to, I guess, fix himself up before he went back to work," she said. "I could see him in there ... but I don't remember him leaving my apartment."
The next morning, she said she woke up in her bed, "really sore." She said had "friction burns" on the inside of her legs. "I figured it was from his uniform, from my legs just pushing across his uniform."
The woman told the court she didn't contact police about what happened. "No one would believe me because I was a drunk girl with a police officer, and I'd have to go to the same police."
Earlier in the day, the first person to take the stand in the retrial was Kelsey Muise, who was an RNC constable when she picked up the woman for an unrelated incident in January 2015. The woman, Muise said, told her about the December 2014 incident.
Muise told the court that she had told her supervisor about what the woman told her.
Randy Piercey, Snelgrove's defence lawyer, asked the woman if it was possible that she was drunk but appeared functional. She replied no.
Piercey asked if she remembers going to the wrong house with Snelgrove and she said yes. The defence lawyer noted to the court that she was at least aware enough at the time to point out the incorrect address.
Following the woman's testimony, prosecutor Lloyd Strickland told the court that DNA evidence from the cushions on her couch matched DNA collected from Snelgrove. Strickland read out police communication records indicating the cruiser Snelgrove had used that night was at her house.
The trial resumes Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020