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Taxi driver on trial in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for allegedly sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl

Joseph Cooney, 65, is being charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl two years ago.
Joseph Cooney, 65, is being charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl two years ago. - Evan Careen

Date to be set for continuation of trial

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L.

A 65-year-old Happy Valley-Goose Bay man was on trial this week for allegedly sexually assaulting and threatening a 14-year-old girl two years ago.

Joseph Cooney is charged with sexual interference, uttering threats, sexual assault and forcible confinement.

The court heard from the alleged victim, who is now 16, who said that on June2, 2017 she was walking home just before 11 p.m. when Cooney approached her in a vehicle and offered her a ride home. She knew who he was, she said, because some of her friends had told her he was interested in her and she knew him as a taxi driver in the community.

He asked how old she was on the drive, she said, and asked if she was a virgin. When she told him he was 14, he didn’t say anything, she said. The age of consent in Canada is 16.

She said he then took her to his house and sexually assaulted her. She asked him to stop, she said, after it had begun and he did.

“I said, ‘I got to go home’ and he touched me again,” she told the court. “He kissed me and he was shaking my hand. He said ‘I trust you’ and he said he will kill me if I tell anyone.”

She said she then went home and showered, telling her family the next day.

Cpl. Sebastian Pelchat, the RCMP officer who was in charge of the investigation, said when they went to speak to Cooney on June 4 he knew why they were there.

“He said it was probably about a young girl that was always hanging out at his place, asking him for money and wouldn’t leave him alone,” Pelchat told the court.

Pelchat said they then arrested Cooney, who was cooperative, and brought him in to the detachment.

Cooney’s lawyer, Ed Montague, is going to cross-examine the alleged victim and Cooney has a couple of witnesses to call in his defense. The trial was scheduled to end on Jan. 10 but due to technical issues there was not enough time allotted to call all witnesses. The case is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 14 to set a date for the remaining witnesses to testify.

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