'You saw intoxication as an opportunity': McKnight sentencing hearing to enter its final day
EDMONTON -- Warning: this story contains disturbing details.
The second day of Matthew McKnight's sexual assault sentencing hearing continued on Thursday morning with an emotional statement from one of his victims.
"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."
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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 McKnight 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.
The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, 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.
A fourth victim impact statement will be heard on the third and final day of the hearing on Friday.
MCKNIGHT TAKES THE STAND
On Thursday afternoon, defence lawyer Dino Bottos began his sentencing submission.
Bottos argued a beating McKnight sustained from another inmate while awaiting bail should serve as mitigating factor in his sentence.
The court was played 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 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.
Prosecutors have argued the assault should have no effect McKnight's sentencing.
'DENOUNCE AND DETER'
Crown prosecutors continued to argue Thursday that at least three of McKnight's sex assaults were "drug-facilitated" and involved both alcohol and other illicit drugs.
On Wednesday, Justice Doreen Sulyma challenged the Crown's submission that evidence of drugs had been proven in court or accepted by the jury.
“I don't think there was evidence of drugs, just evidence of blackouts,” she said.
Prosecutors are seeking a 22 1/2 year sentence for McKnight, with the time for each guilty count to be served concurrently.
Prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said Wendesday 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 an "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.”
With files from the Canadian Press