Man charged with sexually assaulting two women in separate attacks testifies at trial

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A man charged with sexually assaulting a pair of women at his Ndilo home in separate attacks took the stand Monday to deny the accusations, rejecting the accounts of two complainants who both said they were raped by the accused after he invited them to his residence in 2017.

Peter Tsetta, 50, is charged with sexually assaulting and forcibly confining the two women.

The first offence is alleged to have occurred in May 2017. He’s accused of committing the second attack in June 2017, just one month later.

During day-one of Tsetta’s judge-alone trial on May 27, a woman – whose identity is protected by a court-publication ban – testified she’d been drinking in downtown Yellowknife when she ran into the accused.

She told the court Tsetta gave her alcohol before inviting her back to his house for more drinks. The two took a cab to his house, she testified, where they continued to drink – laughing and having a good time.

The next thing she remembered, Tsetta was on top of her, pinning her down and raping her as she struggled to free herself, the woman tearfully testified.

“He just kept raping me,” she sobbed.

She testified she managed to free herself, but when she reached the door – the only one in the house – she wasn’t able to open it. It was only after she was forced to perform more sex acts, she testified, that Tsetta let her go – unlocking a “mechanism” atop the door to open it.

She reported the sexual assault to RCMP that morning, and was taken to the hospital, the woman testified.

Tsetta is accused of carrying out a similar attack one month earlier – in May 2017 – against another woman, now deceased.

The woman told police she awoke to Tsetta raping her – covering her mouth as she screamed for him to stop – following an encounter downtown, where he invited her and another woman back to his house in Ndilo.

In her statement – recorded on video and shown in court – the woman said she then sought help from a security guard at the Vital Abel Boarding House, who testified she knocked on the building’s door, telling him she’d been sexually assaulted.

Without her testimony at trial, prosecutors relied on a statement she gave to RCMP in July 2017, along with her testimony at a preliminary inquiry. Following a challenge from Tsetta’s lawyer, who said her evidence shouldn’t be heard at trial – partly because, he argued, she wasn’t in court to be cross-examined – Justice Louise Charbonneau ruled the evidence admissible Monday.

Tsetta then took the stand to testify.

Tsetta denied sexually assaulting either of the woman. In May 2017, on the night of the first alleged attack, he testified he ran into the now deceased complainant near the Quality Inn downtown, before the two went back to his house in a cab.

Tsetta said the woman never lost consciousness, and that the night ended following an argument between the two, after the woman saw a bag of women’s clothes, which he claimed to belong to a sister, and became upset, yelling and swearing.

He then pushed her out of his house, and she left, Tsetta testified.

Tsetta also admitted to spending a few hours with the second complainant at his home in June 2017, but denied ever having sex with her. He told the court the two also went back to his house in Ndilo in a taxi after meeting up and sharing wine downtown. He said she dozed off on his couch before awaking to ask for more alcohol and cigarettes, but that he didn’t have either. She then left, Tsetta said.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Annie Piche, the accused said the complainant in the alleged May 2017 rape – now deceased – wasn’t in a state to consent to sex, but maintained he never sexually assaulted her.

Both the Crown and defence are expected to make closing arguments Wednesday.

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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.

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