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Canada Nova Scotia police chief sexually assaulted me, young woman testifies

John Collyer is charged with sexual assault and exploitation between April and July 2016.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

A young woman testified this week that she felt hurt and betrayed after an alleged sexual assault by the then-police chief for Bridgewater, N.S.

The complainant was 17 at the time of the alleged 2016 incident, which is now the subject of a high-profile sexual assault trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

John Collyer is charged with sexual assault and exploitation between April and July 2016. The complainant’s identity is protected under a publication ban.

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In testimony on Thursday, the trial’s fourth day, the woman said Collyer asked her an inappropriate question while the two were driving in May 2016 and put his hand between her legs and digitally penetrated her.

The woman, now 20, testified that she felt hurt after what happened.

“It was someone I trusted and looked up to as a fatherly figure,” she said.

She said she cried afterwards and did not tell anyone for months out of fear of not being believed.

The young woman and her mother both testified this week that Collyer had been a presence in the family’s life for several years.

Collyer, who was placed on administrative leave after being charged and later left the town’s employ, is expected to testify in his own defence in days to come.

The Town of Bridgewater declined to reveal to Global News whether it was paying for Collyer’s legal fees, given that he was an employee at the time of the alleged offences.

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On Wednesday, the court heard that Collyer and the teen had an active relationship on Facebook.

Sergeant Gordon Vail of the province’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) testified that hundreds of messages were deleted from a Facebook conversation between the two.

Of 596 messages, 536 were deleted, according to the data provided by Facebook.

Vail told the court that none of the remaining messages contained material that he would describe as “inappropriate” or “sexual in nature.” That’s in contrast with the alleged screenshots of the conversation shared with him by the girl’s mother and a family friend.

The data was retrieved by SIRT, the province’s police watchdog, in April 2017 – about eight months after Collyer had been served notice of the investigation against him, and days before the police watchdog laid charges against him.

The complainant testified Thursday that Collyer instructed her to delete the messages, but she only did so after the investigation against him began and a lawyer told her she could do so.

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Crown attorney Roland Levesque read screenshots from the thread this week, which Vail confirmed were not present in the Facebook raw data, including messages saying “Love you kiddo,” calling her “hot,” and that Collyer wanted to send her “dirty limericks.”

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