Man charged in pair of sex assaults to learn fate in August

Crown, defence gave closing arguments Wednesday at trial of Peter Tsetta, 50

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Peter Charlie Tsetta, a 50-year-old man accused of raping a pair of women in two separate attacks, “tortured” one of his alleged victims when he sexually assaulted her at his home two years ago, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

“(Tsetta) raped and confined her,” said Annie Pichie on the final day of his trial in Yellowknife, telling the court the woman was “basically tortured,” for a prolonged period of time while trying to escape the accused’s Ndilo home in June 2017.

Tsetta is charged with sexually assaulting and forcibly confining the woman. He’s charged with doing the same to another woman – who is now deceased – just one month earlier, in May 2017.

At trial, the living complainant in the alleged assault – whose identity is protected by a publication ban – testified she had been drinking in downtown Yellowknife when she ran into Tsetta, who shared alcohol with her. She said Tsetta invited her to his Ndilo home to continue drinking, telling her “don’t worry, you’ll be safe,” before the two left in a taxi.

After drinking and laughing with Tsetta at his home, she awoke to him raping her, holding her down as she kicked and punched him, the woman testified as she broke down in tears.

She fled his home and reported the assault to RCMP who took her to hospital that morning, she said.

The court heard hospital staff observed injuries to the woman’s vagina. Tsetta’s DNA was not found, but Piche said there are a number of factors that contribute to whether or not DNA is detected following intercourse.

In her closing arguments, Piche said the woman’s testimony was “compelling and corroborated.”

In the alleged May 2017 attack against the now deceased complainant, prosecutors relied on a statement she gave to RCMP two months later, along with her testimony at a preliminary inquiry.

After running into Tsetta downtown, the woman told police he invited her to his home. When she woke up after passing out at his house, Tsetta was raping her, she testified.

On Wednesday, Tsetta himself took the stand where he denied all wrongdoing, admitting both women had drank with him at his house during the alleged attacks, but that he had not had sex with either of them.

Piche said Tsetta’s account of both nights aligned with the complainants’ version of events – drinking downtown, taking a taxi to his house – up until the point when they both reached a state where the couldn’t consent to sex. Piche said Tsetta was “extremely evasive,” when testifying about key events.

‘Too many questions that are unanswered’

“There is no reason to reject his evidence. Period,” said Tsetta’s lawyer, Evan McIntyre, who argued that his client should be acquitted of all charges.

Too many unanswered questions, coupled with “concerns” over one complainant’s reliability, argued Tsetta’s lawyer Evan McIntyre, should leave the court with a reasonable doubt that his client committed the offences.
Brendan Burke/NNSL photo
June 20, 2019.

The deceased complainant’s “relatively untested” evidence – as he wasn’t able to cross-examine her in court – was “simply not enough” to convict his client of the alleged May 2017 attack, he said.

McIntyre said the court should have significant concerns about the second complainant’s reliability as well, as she was intoxicated that night.

He said the “crux of the case,” came down to “serious inconsistencies” in her memory on the night in question. When presented with inconsistencies, McIntyre said she became argumentative.

But her at-times “combative” demeanor on the stand only added weight to her version of events, said Piche.

“Of course she’s angry,” said the prosecutor, reminding the court the woman testified that she had “lived in hate,” in the years since the alleged assault.

McIntyre pointed to the woman’s inability to recount her walk home from Tsetta’s home in its entirety and suggested the injuries she sustained – she also suffered bruising on her arm and leg – could have been caused by someone else.

He argued the woman’s account of what happened to her could have been shaped by Tsetta’s reputation in the community. He was facing charges at the time.

Piche said it’s possible the bruising occurred on the way home. But the prosecutor said the woman’s vaginal injuries were “completely consistent” with her account of what happened to her.

Her account of  being “raped over and over again … fighting (Tsetta) off … begging him to let her go,” is not “something one can be mistaken about because they are intoxicated,” said Piche.

Justice Louise Charbonneau is expected to give her decision on Aug. 9.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.