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Trial begins for Whatì man accused of raping 13-year-old

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Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault case, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.

A 16-year-old girl testified she was raped by a much older man in August 2016 as the man's jury trial began in a Yellowknife courtroom.

The girl described having “non-consensual sex” at the age of 13 with Cory Ross Nitsiza, who was then 27, during a night of alcohol and cannabis use in Whatì. Under Canadian law, the age of consent is 16. The girl is entitled to anonymity.

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Nitsiza faces one count of sexual assault. Tuesday was the first day on which Supreme Court jurors heard testimony in a case expected to be handed to them for a verdict on Thursday.

Under questioning by Crown prosecutor Trevor Johnson, the soft-spoken girl said she had been “walking around” the community at about 4am on August 24, 2016, when she and a 15-year old female friend passed by Nitsiza’s house. 

She testified she knew the man as he used to help a woman babysit her “when she was a little kid.”

That morning, Nitsiza was smoking a cigarette on his porch when the two girls spoke with him for a while. Nitsiza asked the friend if she would take two cigarettes in exchange for leaving him alone with her, the girl testified.

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“Then he grabbed me by the wrist and took me upstairs,” she testified, looking away from Nitsiza, who kept his head down, writing on a notepad. 

“He took me into his room. He just told me not to tell anyone.

“That’s when he raped me.”

She said the attack lasted about four minutes, during which she asked him to stop five times, being more forceful with each demand.

She testified she then went downstairs, where her friend was sitting with another man, both of them smoking cannabis.

After a “couple of minutes,” and after also smoking some cannabis, she left with her friend to meet another girl in a playground at 4:30am. The girl said she told that third girl what had happened.

A couple of weeks later, she discovered she had contracted an infection that she testified had come from Nitsiza. She testified she then went to police and provided a statement about what happened on the morning of August 24.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Jan Bran, the girl acknowledged some of her statements had been untrue and that her stated recollection of events had frequently changed.

Responding to questions from Bran, she admitted she did not seek police out to make a statement, rather they had sought her.

The girl also acknowledged she had been drinking vodka and smoking cannabis prior to stopping at Nitsiza’s house.

This is not the first time these events have come to trial. Bran, referring to a previous trial, said the court had not until now heard that the girl knew Nitsiza when she was much younger.

The defence lawyer questioned the girl's timeline of the entire evening, alleging she had been looking for a place to party and had told Nitsiza she was 16. The girl denied both suggestions, reiterating that she had asked him to stop during intercourse.

In his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Johnson told the four-woman, eight-man jury he would be calling three witnesses, including the victim. It’s not known how many, if any, witnesses will be called by the defence.

In Nitsiza's original statement to police, said Johnson, the man had admitted young females would often come to his house to ask for cigarettes. According to Johnson, Nitsiza admitted in the statement he and the victim had had sex, and he knew she was young.

The trial continues.