Motel owner found guilty of sexual assault on tenant
The owner of the Northwoods Inn and Suites has been found guilty of sexual assault.
John Pontes was on trial at Saskatoon Provincial Court for sexual assault and extortion of a female tenant at his motel.
Judge Morris Baniak explained there were two allegations under the sexual assault count, one allegation of fondling and one of rape.
Baniak found Pontes fondled the woman’s breasts, but was “not convinced” with the evidence provided in relation to the rape allegation.
The 75-year-old was found not guilty of extortion.
The woman, who began staying at the motel in April 2017, testified in September that Pontes took her in the back of the motel, near the fire escape door, and fondled her.
She alleged Pontes told her in exchange for sex she could stay at the motel, despite being short on rent, and he’d give her a job.
She initially agreed to meet Pontes in his room on the evening of June 1, 2017 to have sex. She said Pontes gave her a beer, but when the two took off some of their clothes, she changed her mind. She said he proceeded to get on top of her and she was unable to overpower him. She told court the intercourse unpleasant and painful.
Baniak mentioned Pontes’ old age and said he didn’t appear “agile or athletic.”
Baniak told court he believed the woman’s testimony and found her recollection “credible and reliable.” However, he found her evidence “less coherent and hard to follow.”
The Crown did not provide rape kit results, DNA evidence, testimony from the woman’s friend, or testimony from Egadz – an outreach program the woman said helped her the morning after.
“The absence of evidence can give rise to reasonable doubt,” Baniak said.
After the verdict, Pontes told media he couldn’t comment on the verdict because he was confused by it.
“Well I’m not a lawyer dear, I’m just an old man. I’m just a simple businessman. I’m sorry dear.”
His lawyer, Patrick Fagan, also appeared confused by the judge’s decision.
“I’m going to request a transcript, a copy, of his reasons for judgement and wrap my legal mind around it at that time and decide what to do from there,” Fagan told media after court.
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12.