The lawyer defending a University of Toronto instructor charged with sexual assault is looking to have the case dismissed, calling the alleged victim’s testimony “unreliable.”
The trial of James Andrew Payne, 55, resumed on Monday after a three-month hiatus. The senior lecturer in U of T’s faculty of architecture and design is accused of sexually assaulting a woman, then aged 21, in her west-end Toronto apartment in December, 2011.
Dr. Payne’s lawyer, Steven Stauffer, finished cross-examining the alleged victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban and has no connection to U of T. He told the court that he plans to argue her testimony “is so unreliable” that the case should be thrown out. He repeatedly read her statements back to her, highlighting apparent inconsistencies, but in several testy exchanges, she maintained Dr. Payne assaulted her.
Mr. Stauffer will make his argument for a directed verdict, which would dismiss the charges, in mid-March. Should that motion fail, he said he will “most likely” call Dr. Payne to testify.
U of T learned of the charges from media reports on Aug. 14, 2013, and Dr. Payne had continued teaching. On Aug. 20, he was arrested on a separate count of sexual assault after another alleged victim came forward. He has agreed to stop teaching until further notice.
The alleged victim has testified that she encountered Dr. Payne on the sidewalk outside her apartment when she was returning home late on Dec. 10, 2011. She told the court both had been drinking. She said they had mutual acquaintances, and she recognized him. She said he followed her uninvited into her second-floor apartment’s bedroom, forcefully removed her clothes, groped and kissed her as she begged him to stop and pummelled him with her fists.
Swabs taken from the complainant’s breasts match Dr. Payne’s DNA.
On Monday, Mr. Stauffer repeatedly challenged her accounts of how Dr. Payne managed to undress her – whether she was sitting or lying on her bed, and whether he could have forcefully taken off the boots she was wearing. She is accomplished in martial arts, he suggested, and would have fought Dr. Payne’s advances more vigorously had she not consented to them.
The alleged victim replied that she defended herself “the best I could.” She conceded her statement to police is “a little scattered,” but said she was traumatized when she gave it, and accused Mr. Stauffer of “twisting everything” she said.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Mr. Stauffer said.
“It makes sense,” she shot back.