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Woman who alleges sex assault by retired vice-admiral Edmundson not believable, his lawyer says

The evidence heard in an Ottawa courtroom from a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Haydn Edmundson more than 30 years ago should be rejected and lead to an acquittal, the lawyer for the retired vice-admiral said Thursday during closing arguments.

Edmundson has pleaded not guilty, denies any wrongdoing

Retired vice-admiral Haydn Edmundson arrives to court in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

WARNING: This story contains details of an alleged sexual assault.

The evidence heard in an Ottawa courtroom from a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Haydn Edmundson more than 30 years ago should be rejected and lead to an acquittal, the lawyer for the retired vice-admiral said Thursday during closing arguments.

Stéphanie Viau's "evidence is far too fraught and dangerous to be accepted on its own as constituting proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Edmundson's lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said.

During an eight-day trial that began on Feb. 5, court heard from Viau, the complainant, who alleged that Edmundson sexually assaulted her while they were on deployment on a naval ship. She alleged the attack happened inside his cabin while the ship was docked at a U.S. navy base on Nov. 8, 1991.

Her identity has been protected under a publication ban, but that was lifted by Justice Matthew C. Webber on Thursday, as requested by Viau.

The case is being tried in Ontario Court of Justice by a judge alone.

Edmundson, 60, was charged in December 2021 with one count of sexual assault and one count of committing indecent acts. He has pleaded not guilty.

He also took the witness box during the trial, denying the allegations that he sexually assaulted the woman or had any physical or sexual contact with her. At the time of the alleged assault, Edmundson was a lieutenant-commander, the navigator of the ship.

On Thursday, during his closing argument, Greenspan said this is not a diametrically opposed case in the sense that there are two versions of what happened.

"You have one, in our respectful submission, improbable version, inconsistent version, to some extent contradicted version contrasted with his logical and credible complete denial."

Edmundson answered questions 'directly,' lawyer says

Greenspan said in contrast to the evidence given by Viau, Edmundson was not argumentative and answered questions "directly in an appropriate fashion, conceded what ought to have been conceded and stood his ground on those things where he was challenged in terms of specific details."

"You should find Mr. Edmundson's evidence credible, reliable, believable. You should accept his evidence and acceptance of his evidence necessarily leads to acquittals."

Greenspan said the Crown declined to challenge Edmundson on some of the essential facts of the case, including the alleged sexual assault.

Viau, whose duties included waking up officers for night duty, told court that a couple of days before the alleged sexual assault, she had an outburst when she went to wake Edmundson for his night shift and found him lying in the bed naked. The woman said she lost her composure, yelled and turned on the lights, in part to wake up Edmundson's bunkmate so he could witness the behaviour she had to deal with.

WATCH | Edmundson testifies in his own defence:

Retired military HR head testifies own defence at sexual assault trial

2 months ago

Duration 1:56

Retired vice-admiral Haydn Edmundson testified in his own defence at trial. The former head of human resources for the military is charged with one count of committing indecent acts and one count of sexual assault.

Edmundson had previously testified that none of this ever happened. He also denied he had a bunkmate at the time this alleged incident would have occurred.

Greenspan argued that the Crown offered no evidence and failed to challenge Edmundson about the fact the he claimed he had no roommate during the alleged outburst incident. Greenspan also said that Viau had identified two people she thought to be the roommate, but that was later found out to be inaccurate.

"She is an unreliable historian," Greenspan said. "Her account of the [outburst] is not only improbable, it's simply incredible."

He added that such an outburst would have been heard by others on the ship.

"Nobody heard it because it didn't happen. Plain and simple," he said.

The Crown is giving its closing argument Thursday afternoon.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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