"Consent cannot be obtained by stubborn refusal to accept a no."
A Punjabi man, Harmandip Singh, aged 28, from Pugwash in Nova Scotia, Canada, has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman after she did not give consent.
Singh met the woman on the dating website ‘Plenty of Fish’.
At his trial at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Amherst, the judge, Justice Jamie Campbell, released a formal decision of the outcome on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Judge Campbell raised the point that woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not consent to sex and that perpetrator, Harmandip Singh, did not respect the word ‘no’ and its meaning, stating:
“The issue is whether the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the contact happened without the consent of the complainant.”
Harmandip Singh chose that he did not want to testify at the trial.
The woman testified and told the court exactly what took place between her and Singh, according to The Chronicle Herald.
She said that in early 2017, she opened an account on the popular dating site, Plenty of Fish.
She then commenced communication with a user called ‘Alex’, who was, in fact, Harmandip Singh.
The correspondence between them led to Singh contacting her by text on the morning of March 12, 2017, to meet.
A meeting was arranged for the same day, in the evening, for Singh to visit her home in Amherst. At about 7 pm, Singh arrived at her house.
This was the only time they ever saw each other and met in person.
The rendezvous evolved into the pair kissing on the couch, after which the woman said Singh produced two condoms and asked her if she wanted to have sex with him.
The woman told the court that she said no to him. However, she could not recall exactly the words she said.
She then revealed that after she went to her bathroom to find the charger for her phone, she went and sat on the edge of her bed. At this point, Singh arrived into the room, took off his trousers and came and stood in front of her exposing his penis.
Feeling cornered by Singh, she said that she had no choice and performed oral sex on him.
Then she told the court that he removed the rest of his clothes and said to her he wanted to have sexual intercourse.
Not knowing how to get rid of Singh and to get him out of her house, she took off her clothes and commenced to have penetrative sex with him.
She stated that Singh then said he wanted to have anal sex with her, to which she said no.
As she then turned around and tried to roll off the bed, she said Singh stopped her by putting his hand on her back. He then penetrated her anally.
The victim said that in her head she was screaming but she could not say the words. But managed to then tell him to stop. Singh then did stop.
After which, Singh took his clothes and went to the bathroom.
The woman said when he came out, he told her was sorry. She told him to get out and leave her house before she called the police.
The court heard that Harmandip Singh was at the woman’s house for about 45 minutes.
As soon as he left, she immediately contacted the police.
Police took her to a hospital and a sexual assault examination was conducted on her.
The complainant told the court that the morning after, Singh sent her a text message saying he felt embarrassed.
Singh was subsequently arrested and charged with sexual assault.
Convicting Singh, judge Campbell said:
“Consent cannot be obtained by stubborn refusal to accept a no.
“I accept the complainant’s evidence that she said no when she was asked by Mr Singh if she wanted to have sex. She did not revoke that no. She at no point said yes.
“In the circumstances of this case, her actions did not amount to a revocation of the explicit non-consent. In light of her expressed non-consent, Mr Singh cannot be said to have had an honest but mistaken belief in consent.”
During his decision, the judge highlighted that is “entirely wrong” to say that just because the woman invited Mr Singh to her home, it inferred any kind of consent from the victim, saying:
“The complainant agreed to have a man she had never met before come to her home, alone, after exchanging provocative messages with him.
“That cannot be interpreted as a prelude to consent. A person has an absolute right to bodily and sexual integrity.”
Judge Campbell went on to elaborate, that a no means no unless a person explicitly says otherwise:
“No does not mean later and is not an invitation to ask again. Once the word no has been uttered, any change of mind must be made explicit. Anyone who continues with sexual activity once that word has been spoken does so at some legal peril.
“It is difficult to revoke the explicit no with inferences drawn from actions because those actions can be a person’s reaction to the refusal of the accused person to accept the explicit no.”