The alleged victim took the stand in the Brent Hawkes sexual assault trial today, breaking down with emotion several times through his day-long testimony.
Hawkes, a longtime leader of Toronto’s gay community and recipient of the Order of Canada, is facing one charge of indecent assault and one of an act of gross indecency for incidents that allegedly took place in 1974 or 1975 in Kings County, NS, where he taught high school before moving to Toronto.
The alleged victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban because he was about 16 at the time, told the court that he and two friends were playing a drinking game at Hawkes’ trailer in the mid-’70s, when Hawkes suggested that they play a strip drinking game instead.
He testified that he was heavily intoxicated and naked when Hawkes took him to the trailer’s bedroom. He couldn’t recall how much he drank that night.
“I remember barely being able to stand up,” said the man.
He said that Hawkes told him he was beautiful and had a body like a Greek god, and that Hawkes wanted to take him to Provincetown because “all the other faggots there will be jealous.”
“I remember his hands on my body. I remember him biting me, kissing, sticking his tongue in my mouth, his stubble on my cheek, the stench of his body, the weight of his body,” the man testified, at times crying into his hands.
He said that Hawkes performed oral sex on him until he came, and that he sucked him so hard that it hurt. He alleged that he was then forced to fellate Hawkes.
“He thrust his penis in and out of my mouth until he came; he pulled his penis out and ejaculated on my shoulder. I remember the sensation, it was burning hot. He laughed and said ‘at least I didn’t come in your mouth.’ ”
The complainant said he has no memory of how long he stayed in Hawkes’ trailer or how he got home that night. He said he never discussed the events of the night with his friends.
“It was a shameful secret I kept hidden,” he said. He said that later when he told his parents they didn’t believe him. He said his mother told him not to make up stories, while his father told him that Hawkes was different but not gay.
“It was like someone stabbed a knife in my heart, because the people I told, the people I trusted the most, dismissed it,” the witness said. “I buried it for so long. Carrying this shit for 40 years hurts.”
The man said he has forgiven Hawkes. “I’ll never forget his actions, nor will I forgive his actions, but I forgive him. And most importantly I forgive myself. It took a long time, to learn how to do that, to learn how to say that.”
The witness says he applauds Hawkes for the work he has done on behalf of the LGBT community. “But this isn’t about what he’s done since then, it’s about what he did in 1975.”
The man testified that he eventually told two counsellors about the alleged sexual assault in 2004. He later sought help from a sexual assault survivors group in 2013 and then eventually told his story to the police.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby spent most of the day questioning the reliability and clarity of the witness’ memory. He asked about his drug and alcohol use since the 1970s. Ruby later asked if the witness had outside help when writing his statement of what he alleges happened in Hawkes’ trailer.
When the charges against Hawkes were filed in December 2015, his supporters argued that gross indecency is an inherently homophobic charge that should no longer be used by prosecutors.
The trial continues Thursday, Nov 17, 2016.