The sexual assault trial for accused Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray began Monday in Port Coquitlam. (files)

BREAKING: Pitt Meadows councillor convicted of sexual assault from 25 years ago

Sentencing date is Jan. 10.

  • Oct. 25, 2017 2:05 p.m.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Dave Murray has been convicted of sexual assault.

The decision, by Judge Deirdre Pothecary, was made Wednesday morning in Port Coquitlam provincial court.

Sentencing has been adjourned to await the completion of a pre-sentence report. The matter will be back before the court on Jan. 10 to fix a sentencing date, said Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel, B.C. Prosecution Service, Ministry of Attorney General.

Murray was first charged on Nov. 16, 2016 with one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference with a person under the age of 14 in relation to incident back in 1992.

He pleaded not guilty and elected a trial by provincial judge.

Murray remained on council, to which he was first elected in 2011, and attended regular meetings, as well as community events.

A former employee of Murray testified at the start of his trial Monday that he sexually assaulted her at their workplace in 1992.

The woman, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, told the court she began working for Murray that summer and that the two initially had a friendly relationship.

His behaviour eventually turned “inappropriate” as he bought her expensive clothing and took her out for dinners, including one at a revolving restaurant.

“I remember he bought me really expensive jeans… that I really liked but couldn’t afford,” she said, adding that her mother and stepfather, with whom she lived at the time, were “concerned” about the relationship.

“I knew he liked me, he was flirtatious with me,” the complainant said. “But I liked it and I didn’t want it to stop.”

One day in late summer or early fall of 1992, Murray asked her to come into work early.

When she arrived, she said the workplace was still closed and Murray was the only person there.

The complainant broke down in the courtroom, her voice shaky and her eyes teary as she described the alleged assault. She said she was lying down, and that Murray was kneeling beside her as moved his hands up her leg, under her shorts, and touched her genitals.

“It was awkward… he seemed nervous,” she said. “I turned my head and closed my eyes and waited for it to stop.”

The complainant said she recalled lying on the ground, frozen.

“I was feeling like it was my fault and that I got myself into shady situations,” she said. “I knew the attention he was giving me [leading up to the alleged assault] was inappropriate but I allowed it to continue.”

The complainant could not remember how long the alleged assault lasted, but said that when it was done, Murray walked away to a different part of the workplace.

“I waited to be sure he wasn’t there and then I stood up and went about my day,” she said. “We acted like it was a normal workday.”

She finished her shift and never came back to work. She did not see Murray again until she moved to Pitt Meadows as an adult.

The complainant’s voice shook as she described seeing Murray’s name everywhere, especially as a campaign for the 2014 local elections began.

She decided to report Murray to the RCMP in 2015, following a public city meeting where she saw him in person.

Murray, secretary-treasurer of the CUPE Fraser Valley District Labour Council, was originally charged with sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under the age of 14.

But Crown counsel asked for the second charge to be stayed, citing an inability to confirm whether the complainant was 13 or 14 at the time of the alleged assault.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer J. R. McRoberts focused on the inexact date of the alleged assault, as well as on the complainant’s drug use as a teenager.

She and Crown had established a timeline where the complainant had quit school in 1991, returning in the fall 1992.

McRoberts asked the complainant if her drug use was why she had left school. The complainant denied that this was the only reason, but acknowledged that it was a contributing factor.

He further questioned her on what drugs she had taken, asking specifically about LSD.

The complainant denied using LSD, but did say that she was using marijuana, pills and alcohol daily.

McGregor questioned the complainant’s recollection of the dinners between her and Murray and asked if she recalled a specific dinner with Murray, a coworker and several RCMP officers. She did not.

On the second day of the trial, Murray denied that he had taken advantage of the complainant’s trust.

He repeatedly denied that he called her in early one morning, asked to practice a massage on her, and then rubbed his hands up her legs and into her genitals.

”You found her attractive and she confided in you,” Crown counsel Wendy Wakabayashi suggested during a cross-examination.

Murray acknowledged that the complainant was attractive, but said she was by far not the only youth to confide in him.

“You could tell from the way she interacted with you that she enjoyed the attention,” Wakabayashi said.

“That’s conjecture,” Murray replied.

The councillor told the court that he hired the complainant, and her coworker, for a three-day auction in September 1992.

Murray said he assumed both were around 17. He said he learned after the auction they were both actually 14, and that he never questioned their age, despite visits he called “disconcerting” from both girls’ parents.

Wakabayashi asked why Murray had hired two seemingly random girls, whose ages he did not even know, to work at what Murray had said was a high-priced auction with items worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Murray said news coverage of the auction leading up to it had made him “panic” when he realized he didn’t have anyone to help him.

As a result, he approached two girls who had been hanging around the store with some boys.

“You wanted girls to help you for the auction … because your customers were male,” she said.

“Yes,” Murray replied.

Earlier that day, Crown and the defence lawyer sought to narrow down the timeline of the alleged assault.

The complainant had said she’d been 13 or 14 years old at the time, working for Murray during the “warmer weather months” in 1992, but that she could be wrong. Both lawyers seemingly agreed she worked for Murray during one three-day weekend.

The complainant’s boyfriend at the time also testified that neither he nor she had used drugs together, not had the complainant while they were dating.

The complainant had told the court the day before that she had been using marijuana, pills and alcohol every day.

Murray is not in custody. The maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years in prison, and there is no minimum sentence, McLaughlin said.

“As the matter is still before the court, the B.C. Prosecution Service will not be commenting further on the circumstances of the offence, the offender or the position it will be taking in any future related proceedings.”

No information is available yet as to what will happen with Murray’s position on Pitt Meadows council.

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