It started off with an invitation from a stranger outside a downtown Halifax bar to grab a poutine together.
The man also offered the young woman a hooded sweater to put on, which she thought was “very kind” of him.
But a former Dalhousie University student who had gone out drinking and dancing to celebrate her 19th birthday says she ended up getting raped by Matthew Albert Percy after they shared a cab to her dormitory in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, 2014.
The young woman reported the matter to police two days later, but the file was closed the following month without Percy being charged.
Police reopened the investigation in January 2018, after Percy was charged with sexually assaulting two Saint Mary’s University students.
In February 2018, police charged Percy with sexual assault causing bodily harm in relation to the Dal student.
Percy’s trial got underway Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. This is the third time the 36-year-old Halifax man has stood trial on allegations of sexual assault.
The Crown opened its case with evidence from the complainant. Now 24, her identity is protected by a publication ban.
The woman testified that she went downtown with one of her roommates on the night of Dec. 5, 2014. After the roommate left Cheers to meet someone else, she said she decided to go home alone.
That’s when she had casual conversation with Percy, who was outside the bar having a smoke with another man. She said she had never seen either man before.
The woman accepted Percy’s invitation to get a poutine, but first they stopped for a drink at the Toothy Moose. She said she thinks Percy paid for the drink, the poutine and the taxi to her place.
The woman said she doesn’t remember much about the taxi ride. She said she could not recall what she had to drink that night but estimated she was “probably two or three drinks from completely blacking out.” She said her intoxication level, on a scale of 0-10, was “probably a 7.”
When she and Percy arrived at her apartment at Dal with the poutine, she said they went past the dining room and into her bedroom, where Percy helped remove her shoes, which she thought was “nice.”
She said Percy’s demeanour was “kind, thoughtful and considerate” but changed after he threw a pillow on the floor and told her to get on her knees and perform oral sex. “It was different – more stern,” she said.
She remembers them being naked on the bed and Percy insisting on not wearing a condom that she had taken out of a drawer in her bedside table.
“He had intercourse with me,” she said. “I don’t remember what else happened in that room. And then after that, we were in the washroom.”
She said she remembers standing in front of the bathroom mirror with her hands on the sink while Percy held her hair and anally raped her.
“I did not have control,” she told the court. “I started to cry. I said no so many times. … He did not stop.”
That was followed by intercourse in the shower, which she said she didn’t want to happen, “but at that point it was better than what he had already done to me.”
They went back to her bedroom, she said, and he forced her to give him oral sex again.
She said she finally got into bed and curled up against the cold, concrete wall, “as far away from him as I could get. … I did not want him to stay.
“Then I fell asleep. I was woken up the next morning by him grabbing my rear end.”
A security video played in court shows Percy leaving the residence in the morning, eating poutine as he waits for the elevator.
The complainant said she noticed in the morning that one of her roommates had texted her while she was being assaulted by Percy, asking her to keep the noise down. She said she responded that it was the worst experience of her life.
She said Percy struck and choked her during the encounter and that she was left with bite marks on her neck and back and bruises, stretch marks and broken blood vessels on her backside. She said she couldn’t sit the next day because of her injuries.
She said she does not believe Percy wore a condom at all.
She said a friend convinced her to call the police. She said she didn’t want to go to police at first because she felt embarrassed and thought they wouldn’t care if she had said no because she had let Percy into her residence.
Crown attorney Rick Woodburn tendered photos of the woman’s injuries that were taken by sexual assault nurse examiners.
The prosecutor asked the complainant if she had consented to any of the sexual activity with Percy.
“No,” she replied. “From the beginning, even on the bed, I didn’t want it to happen.
“I didn’t grab a condom because I wanted it to happen. … I just figured that he was going to do it anyway and I might as well try to be safe. I didn’t want any of it to happen.”
Defence lawyer Peter Planetta will cross-examine the complainant Wednesday.
The judge-alone trial is scheduled for 10 days in front of Justice Josh Arnold.
In August 2018, Percy was acquitted in provincial court on charges of sexual assault, choking and voyeurism, from a Sept. 3, 2017, incident involving a SMU student at his Halifax apartment.
In December 2018, a different provincial court judge found Percy guilty on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism from a Sept. 15, 2017, encounter with a young woman in her room at SMU.
Percy received a 30-month sentence last May, but the judge credited him with 768 days for his time on remand, leaving him with 144 days to serve.
The sentence also included three years’ probation, with a condition that Percy complete sexual offender programming.
Percy was working at SMU as a groundskeeper at the time of the 2017 incidents.
He has a fourth trial scheduled next December in Supreme Court on charges of sexual assault causing bodily harm, assault and choking, from an encounter with a Halifax woman at her apartment in November 2013.
Percy has served the jail portion of his sentence but remains in custody after he was denied bail in Supreme Court on his remaining charges.