Man found guilty of assaulting skaters
By GAY ABBATE
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
An Ontario judge has convicted a man of drugging and sexually assaulting two Canadian figure skaters, calling his story of consensual sex ''patently absurd.''''I can't believe any of his evidence, nor do I,'' Mr. Justice Todd Archibald said in his hourlong oral judgment yesterday.
The Ontario Superior Court judge told Jermaine Bell, 28, that his evidence at the 12-day trial was "a series of lies layered on top of each other."
The manager of a Stitches clothing store testified that he and the two skaters, one male and one female, had been drinking heavily the night of July 12, 2001, when they "spontaneously" engaged in a threesome.
Mr. Bell said he was groping the man while lying on top of the woman and ejaculating on the sheets of her bed.
But Judge Archibald accepted the version of events presented by the young skaters, whose names are protected by a publication ban.
They are both in their 20s and she is no longer skating competitively although he competes on a national level.
Although they had consumed some alcohol they testified that it was only after drinking a cooler given by Mr. Bell that they suddenly became inebriated and passed out.
A roommate testified that he could not believe they could become so drunk so quickly.
As they drifted in and out of consciousness, the couple woke to find Mr. Bell engaged in sexual activity with both of them.
Mr. Bell said he did not have intercourse with the woman, but the judge concluded otherwise.
He said it was not plausible that the couple would willingly participate in a sexual orgy.
He noted that they had only begun dating, are admittedly sexually conservative, and had not been intimate with each other.
After announcing the conviction, Judge Archibald revoked Mr. Bell's $10,000 bail, and he was handcuffed and led away to jail.
He is to return March 23 for a sentencing hearing.
As he was escorted out of the courtroom, the complainants, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, smiled at each other.
Outside the court, the man said he was ecstatic at the outcome. "Hopefully he'll get what he deserves at the sentencing," he said, adding that the process of going to police and testifying at trial "is well worth it."
Mr. Bell's lawyer, Edward Prutschi, said he was very disappointed that the judge took the complainants' word over that of his client about them being slipped a drug since no trace of one was found in their urine.
He tried to persuade the judge to allow Mr. Bell to remain out on bail until he is sentenced because his mother needs him.
She is recovering from cancer, Mr. Prutschi said, and Mr. Bell is concerned about the stress of his going to jail on her health.
But Judge Archibald said the offences he had committed were very grave and his immediate removal to jail was necessary to ensure public confidence in the administration of justice.
Mr. Prutschi said he intends to ask for a conditional sentence, with his client serving it in the community under house arrest.
But Crown attorney Sue Orlando indicated to the judge she will likely seek a penitentiary term of more than two years.
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"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963