Canada

“Opposite versions” heard in sex assault trial of former Carleton basketball star

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An Ottawa judge will have to decide whether he believes a former Carleton University basketball star when he says he had a consensual one-night stand with a woman he met in a bar, or her evidence that she was drugged and raped while lapsing in and out of consciousness.

“You have here two drastically opposed, different versions of events,” Crown attorney Juliana Martel told Ontario Court Justice Trevor Brown during the final day of the trial of Edward “Eddie” Ekiyor.

Ekiyor, 24, an Ottawa native, led the Carleton Ravens to a national basketball championship in March 2019. He met the woman at a downtown bar one month later as the team celebrated its victory with a night out on the town.

Ekiyor was arrested and charged in August with a series of offences, including sexual assault and overcoming resistance by administering a stupefying substance. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During the week-long trial, the woman testified that she had consumed several drinks, but was not drunk when she was introduced to Ekiyor at the bar. She told court that they talked for a time and that Ekiyor gave her a vodka drink, after which she began to feel heavily intoxicated.

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She suffered blackouts and memory lapses as soon as she left the bar, the woman told court, but recalled vomiting in a car, going inside a house, taking a shower, and waking up to find Ekiyor having intercourse with her on a couch.

Martel told court that the victim’s experience was consistent with someone who had been administered GHB, a clear, odorless central nervous system depressant commonly known as a “date rape” drug.

No GHB was found in the woman’s bloodstream, but Martel said the fast-acting drug is eliminated from the circulatory system within six hours.

Martel said the judge will ultimately have to decide whose evidence to accept: Ekiyor’s or the woman’s.

“Her evidence, if accepted, makes out the offence of a full-on sexual assault, nothing short of a rape of an unconscious woman who was quite likely drugged or highly intoxicated, unable to consent,” she told court.

Ekiyor, she said, told court about a pleasurable evening between two consenting, participating adults.

While Martel conceded that Ekiyor’s evidence in the case was consistent, she called it “too smooth” and embellished to be believable.

Ekiyor testified that he met the woman at about 11:30 p.m. and later that night drove to a friend’s house on Bellamy Street in Ottawa, where they talked and made out on a couch before she straddled him, took her own pants off, and engaged in sex. He denied drugging or sexually assaulting the woman.

In his closing argument, defence lawyer Rodney Sellar said Ekiyor offered the court an honest, reliable account of what happened that was unshaken during cross-examination.

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“It’s clear,” Sellar said, “that she was consenting to the sex and that he was taking all reasonable steps during this period of time … From what was taking place at this time, not only was she consenting, but she was encouraging and actively participating, and any other male in that situation would think exactly, I submit, as Mr. Ekiyor thought.”

Sellar suggested that the woman, after the one-night stand, was upset when she found out that Ekiyor had a girlfriend and regretted her decision to have sex with him. He suggested it was a plausible explanation for the criminal complaint that followed.

“It’s not the first complaint that’s false,” he said.

Martel said the defence theory about “buyer’s remorse” had no place in a criminal trial and she asked the court not to consider it.

The judge said he would deliver a decision in the case in late June.

Ekiyor, a 6’9’’ power forward, was awarded the Jack Donohue Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2019 national championship tournament in Halifax, which produced Carleton’s 14th national title. He was also named a First Team All-Canadian.

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