It was supposed to be a night of boozing, partying and team building for about a dozen Toronto police officers, but sometime between 12:20 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. three of them forced themselves on a female colleague who had joined the celebration, a sexual assault trial heard Wednesday.
The woman, a parking enforcement officer, took the stand at the trial of Joshua Cabero, Leslie Nyznik, and Sameer Kara — who have all pleaded not guilty to sexual assault — to describe what she says happened in January 2015 after the so-called “rookie buy night,” where young officers pay for dinner and drinks with veterans.
Around midnight, the woman said she ended up in a hotel room with the trio, periodically blacking out. She said she was at the whim of the three officers, all constables in a downtown Toronto division, who took turns having sex with her against her wishes.
“I was powerless, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t stop what was happening,” said the woman, whose identity is protected under a standard publication ban.
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In her mind, she told the judge-alone trial, she didn’t consent to any of it, which included sexual intercourse and oral sex, sometimes at the same time.
Before the night began, the woman said she had hesitated to go because a friend had decided not to attend.
“But it was a good networking opportunity, a team-building type experience,” she said, adding that she wanted to become a police officer.
The woman said she showed up at a bar called the CC Lounge and Whisky Bar around 9 p.m. and joined “10 to 12” officers, including Kara, who she had befriended while on the job. He was the one who had invited her out, she said.
The officers were already “pretty intoxicated” when she arrived, she recalled, noting she had a rum and coke, and a shot of tequila with Kara.
The group then moved on to the Pravda Vodka Bar. On the short walk over, Kara tried to kiss the woman, she said, but she turned her head. He apologized, court heard. Inside the bar, the drinks continued to flow.
The woman had another shot of tequila then went for a smoke with Kara, who vomited all over himself, she said. Another officer helped Kara back to the Westin Harbour Castle, where he had checked in earlier that day.
Five people from the group, including the woman, later ended up at a strip club where Nyznik told a waitress they were “an adult film crew” in town from Miami, the woman testified.
After one drink, the group left, she said. The woman then got into a taxi with Nyznik and Cabero with a plan to get Kara from the hotel and drag him back out to a bar, she said.
“I was certainly a little bit tipsy, but I can walk on my own, talk on my own, I wasn’t slurring speech — I felt ok,” she said. “Once the cab moved, that significantly changed. I had a sudden intense headache. Felt like my vision was impaired, almost tunnel vision.”
By the time she arrived at the hotel, court heard the woman had seven drinks and her memory became spotty.
The woman said she recalled entering a hotel room and trying to wake Kara.
“The next thing I remember is being on my back and (Nyznik) was at head of the bed, jeans at his ankles … pulling my head toward him,” she said.
Nyznik forced her to give him oral sex, she testified. Someone else began having intercourse with her at the same time, but she couldn’t see who it was, the woman said.
All of it she didn’t want, she said, but couldn’t get the words out.
Kara — who had been apparently asleep in the same bed as her — woke up at one point, telling the other two officers to stop, the woman said.
The sexual activity did stop for a time, the woman testified, but then she blacked out and recalled waking up to Kara on top of her, having sex.
Later, the woman said she “was hearing a conversation between two of them and whether or not they still wanted to get a hooker for the night.”
The woman passed out again, she said, and later woke when the three officers were asleep, put her clothes on and took a taxi home.
She told a few friends, who implored her to seek treatment and report the incident to police, she said, but she initially refused to do so.
“In my mind, the fact they were police officers would make it a lot easier to cover up,” she said.
The woman called in sick for several days and returned to work nine days after the alleged incident, court heard, but before her shift, she broke down in the locker room, collapsed and told her supervisor about what happened.
Defence lawyers for the three officers are expected to question the woman on Thursday.