Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray spent the second afternoon of his sexual assault trial on Tuesday denying he had taken advantage of the complainant’s trust.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a former employee, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, back in 1992. 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 defence lawyer J.R. McRoberts 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 have now 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, first elected to Pitt Meadows council in 2011, had also been charged with sexual interference of a person under the age of 14. But that charge was stayed because Crown has been unable to confirm exactly how old the woman was at the time.