Warning this story contains graphic content that may be triggering for some readers.
A man was found guilty of sexual assault by a jury during a Supreme Court trial in Kelowna, on Nov. 5.
Joshua Hawco has been convicted of sexual assault of a woman whose identity has been placed under a publication ban, for her protection.
The victim, who will be referred to as Jane Doe, alleges that she was sleeping early in the morning on Dec. 24, 2020, when she was woken up by Hawco, as he was sexually assaulting her.
Doe said that Hawco walked up to her bed and forced himself on her.
The defence lawyer, Andre Roothman questioned Doe’s allegations and said that his client claims that the sex was consensual and that Doe offered the oral sex “with open arms.”
Samantha from the Elizabeth Fry Society in Kelowna said that, in any trial, a guilty verdict must come only if the burden of proof confirms the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, which can be difficult in “he said, she said,” sexual assault cases that happen in private.
In any indictable offence, where the sentencing is likely to be more than five years, the accused can decide if they would like to be tried by judge or jury, said Samantha.
She explained that is unusual for the accused in a sexual assault case to elect for a trial by jury, and that she has only seen it happen a few times over the course of her career.
To reach a decision, the 12 jurors must come to a unanimous agreement. She said that lawyers will attempt to sway the jury with emotion and humanity, and can act with hostility towards the accused or claimant, attempting to cast doubt on their story.
Samantha explained that it can be difficult for the survivor of assault to give testimony in a room full of people who are actively judging them. She said that it is difficult to explain a very intimate and traumatic event to a whole room while being grilled on your memory and your truth.
During cross-examination, Doe said that she was feeling very tired after two days on the stand, and said that the strain of the trial was starting to affect her ability to remember small details she had previously testified to with clarity.
Despite the fatigue, Doe remained resolute about the assault.
“I did not offer him oral sex,” replied Doe, stating that the alleged assault was non-consensual and that he forced her mouth open with his hands. She said that Hawco then held her down and raped her.
Doe said that she was squirming and resisting and told him to stop during the assault.
“I told him to stop and get off and he continued.”
During her testimony, Doe said that while she was scared for herself, she also feared for her roommate’s safety.
Hawco had been invited over to their residence as a “Tinder date,” by the roommate.
Doe alleges that Hawco targeted her after her roommate fell asleep.
After Hawco left, in the early hours of the morning Doe said that she woke her roommate up, asked her if she was OK, and told her that she had been raped.
After speaking with her roommate, her sister and her boyfriend, Doe called the police and reported the offence.
The matter will be back in court on Jan. 9, 2023. Hawco is not currently in custody.