Fourth victim addresses McKnight as sex assault sentencing hearing to stretch into next week
Matthew McKnight walks into the Edmonton Law Courts building ahead of the second day of his sex assault sentencing hearing. (Jay Rosove/CTV News)
EDMONTON -- The sentencing hearing for a former Edmonton night club promoter continued for a third day on Wednesday and is expected to last at least one day longer than initially scheduled.
Matthew McKnight, 33, was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 from 2010 until 2016, when he worked at Knoxville's Tavern.
In January, a jury convicted him on five of 13 counts after he had pleaded not guilty. Court has heard McKnight met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his apartment.
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The hearing was scheduled to conclude Friday, but will now continue for at least two more days.
The Crown is seeking a 22 1/2 year sentence for the five convictions.
FOURTH VICTIM SPEAKS OUT
The hearing began Friday with a victim impact statement, the fourth of McKnight's victims to address the court.
She says the sex assault has had a lasting impact and left her dealing with panic attacks and anxiety.
"I want more than anything else in this world to be the person I was before that night," she told the court.
"To feel free within myself again instead of weighted down by these chains inside my mind and soul. That night, I lost a part of myself that I haven't ever been able to find again."
Her identity is protected by a publication ban.
REMAND CENTRE BEATING
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos continued his sentencing submissions Friday.
Bottos has argued a beating McKnight sustained from another inmate while awaiting bail should serve as a mitigating factor in his sentence.
On Friday, the court was played a second video of McKnight being assaulted by his cellmate while in the Edmonton Remand Centre on Aug. 14, 2016.
“He was agitated and called me 'skinner' and a rapist,” McKnight said Thursday of his attacker.
McKnight required stitches and staples following the attack where he was punched to the ground and kicked multiple times in the head.
Four days earlier, he said he was rushed by a guard from general population to a holding cell after his face was shown on TV News.
"A guard came in and said I had to get out of there fast, because everyone was seeing who I was and what I was charged with.”
He said he's worried for his safety when he goes to prison.
“It's going to be a very dangerous time and I am just hoping to survive it,” said McKnight.
Prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga argued the assault should have no effect McKnight's sentencing.
He said McKnight could've asked guards to protect him from his cellmate but didn't.
'DENOUNCE AND DETER'
In his opening submissions on Wednesday, prosecutors said the offences are gravely serious and McKnight's moral responsibility is huge in what he described as drug-facilitated sex assaults.
He said the judge must “denounce and deter” the vile abuse of the five women, and called the sentencing a "unique opportunity to denounce and deter."
“These are gravely serious offences and Mr. McKnight's degree of moral responsibility is high,” said Huyser-Wierenga during in his opening submission.
“He's a man who has had a privileged upbringing in many ways.”
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS
On Thursday, the court heard from a third woman who was assaulted by McKnight.
"You saw intoxication as an opportunity," she told the court.
"My body didn’t feel like mine because I wasn’t in control," she said in her victim impact statement.
"I felt robbed, invaded, worthless and helpless."
The woman said she remained silent about the attacks for years until hearing of other victims and going to the police.
"I stand here against sexual predators," she said. "I stand here so he can never do this to anyone else."
She told the court she initially tried to forget about the assault, which she could barely remember after being plied with alcohol by McKnight.
“I could no longer walk, form sentences or see straight,” she said. “The very last thing I remember was being so intoxicated my vision blurred.”
She said she woke up naked in what appeared to be McKnight's bedroom and she quickly fled.
"Though justice has been served in my case, I don’t feel a sense of victory in winning because this process has been so dehumanizing."
The court heard victim impact statements from two other women on Wednesday who said they have experienced anxiety and suicidal thoughts since the attacks.
With files from the Canadian Press