A file photo of Yellowknife's courthouse. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio
Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault case, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.
A Yellowknife courtroom erupted in sobs and screams on Friday morning as a man was found guilty of raping two women and forcibly confining one of them.
Through tears, one of the women attacked by Peter Charlie Tsetta – they had been friends before he brutally raped her and held her captive, one night in 2017 – yelled, “I f***ing got you!”
As he was being led from court by an RCMP officer, several feet from the woman and her supporters, a visibly angry Tsetta shouted back profanities.
Tsetta is expected to be sentenced at a later date. He remains in custody.
The 50-year-old was charged with the sexual assault and forcible confinement of two women at his Ndilo house – one in May 2017, the other in June.
The court previously heard he has a criminal record stretching back to 1987.
Earlier in the trial, Supreme Court Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau had listened for more than two hours as defence lawyer Evan McIntyre and Crown prosecutor Annie Piche summed up their cases.
Under a court order, both women are entitled to anonymity.
At trial, the woman who was in court on Friday testified that Tsetta – her “great friend” for more than 25 years – invited her to continue drinking at his home in June 2017.
“He told me, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be safe,’” said the 48-year-old woman. “We were talking and joking and laughing and sharing shots.
“I trusted him. As sad as it is, I trusted him.”
The woman, a recent cancer survivor, had spent the day socializing in downtown Yellowknife.
She testified her group of street friends had heard Tsetta spent time in prison for savagely beating and raping a woman some time ago, but they still associated with him. (The woman who suffered that horrific assault later rejoined Tsetta in a relationship and was his May 2017 victim in this same trial.)
The woman attacked in June had described taking a taxi to Tsetta’s house and falling asleep, only to wake up with him on top of her.
“I asked him, ‘What are you doing? Stop! Why are you doing this to me? We’re friends,’” the woman told the court, adding the attack had not stopped “for hours” and she could not fight him off.
“He wouldn’t listen to me,” she recalled. “He just kept raping me.”
She eventually did break free but, when she ran half-clothed to the front door, could not open it. She believes the door had a hidden latch.
Unable to leave, the “very rough” sexual assault continued – with Tsetta laughing at her, she testified – until she managed to talk her way to freedom.
“She had been through, basically, torture for a long period of time,” said prosecutor Piche of the June attack during an earlier sentencing hearing.
Attacks while on bail
The woman subjected to the first attack, in May 2017, passed away before the trial began. Her testimony was allowed in the form of a police statement and testimony she gave at a preliminary hearing.
The pair had been drinking in Tsetta’s house, she testified during the preliminary hearing, and she woke up with him on top of her.
After promising she wouldn’t tell police, she was allowed to leave. She fled to the nearby Vital Abel Boarding Home, where she appeared “upset, crying and sobbing.”
Tsetta was convicted of both attacks on Friday. They had occurred while he was on bail for an unrelated March 2017 sexual assault.
The decision by a justice of the peace to release Tsetta on bail sparked outrage at the time from the public and NWT victims’ advocates. The March 2017 charge has since been stayed by the Crown.