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James Andrew Payne will not be teaching for the duration of his trial. (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)
James Andrew Payne will not be teaching for the duration of his trial. (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

U of T instructor testifies in own sexual assault trial Add to ...

A lecturer at the University of Toronto’s architecture school told his sexual assault trial on Wednesday that what happened between him and the alleged victim, then 21, was a mutual encounter both regretted not long after it began.

James Andrew Payne, 55, (who usually is called Andy) is a senior lecturer in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design and has been full-time at the university since 2002. He was teaching until last August, when the sexual assault charge against him, which was laid one day after the encounter on Dec. 10, 2011, came to light. After it was made public, he was charged with sexual assault in a separate case. A preliminary hearing on that was held earlier this month and a trial date will be set this summer.

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Under a mutual agreement with the university, Dr. Payne has suspended all his teaching and student-related activities.

Dr. Payne said that in December, 2011, he was having problems balancing his relationship with his girlfriend and his responsibilities to his two sons, whom he looked after part-time. The girlfriend, then 27, was a “prior” student. He has never had a relationship with a student, Dr. Payne said.

Dr. Payne’s testimony on how the events that night began diverges from the alleged victim’s testimony earlier this year. He said she waved to him as they were both walking around 1 a.m., near his house. He knew her through friends, and Dr. Payne said the woman agreed to let him walk her home. They talked about string theory and science author Carl Sagan on the walk, and she invited him into her apartment on Dovercourt Avenue, Dr. Payne said. When she took the stand this winter, the woman alleged Dr. Payne followed her into her building without her knowledge after they met on the sidewalk outside, and that he undressed, fondled and kissed her as she tried to fight him off. Swabs taken from the complainant’s breasts match Dr. Payne’s DNA.

Dr. Payne said he was familiar with the building through a friend of one of his two sons. The sexual encounter between the two, he said, began after the woman went to her bedroom, where he found her partly undressed. It ended, according to his testimony, when the woman said, “I can’t do this.” At that point, he said, he stopped “his advances” and left the house after telling her the front door was unlocked.

Crown lawyer Helen How’s cross-examination focused on when Dr. Payne knew the woman was drunk and why he was anxious the next morning after he received a call from a mutual acquaintance asking him to get in touch with the woman. Ms. How suggested Dr. Payne was aware from the beginning of the encounter that the alleged victim was drunk and that he “took advantage of a young woman in her apartment.” In response to questions from Justice Geraldine Sparrow, Dr. Payne said his anxiety was due to a potentially “socially explosive situation” if his girlfriend found out what happened.

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