The decision of a local pastor accused of sexual assault now lies with the judge.
Closing arguments were heard last week in the trial of Stan Schalk, 57, who has been charged with one count of sexual assault.
The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was the only witness to testify during the first day of the trial, which was held last month.
The alleged offense took place between June 15th-30th, 2015. The victim was working for Schalk at his residence doing some painting and staining. Court heard the job was offered to her after Schalk learned the victim was in need of financial help.
During the victim’s testimony last month, she recounted an incident where her and Schalk embraced and he ran his hands down her back and grabbed her buttocks. The victim testified she told Schalk to not do that again. She also testified about an incident in which Schalk drove her near Delburne without telling her where they were going. She said in that instance, Schalk took her to a favourite spot of his where they had a picnic lunch and where he touched her left breast.
Schalk admitted to the incident happening on the stand, but said the picnic was something that was previously planned between the two and the events following were a case of two people going too far. “I was defensive because I was not understanding why she was surprised (regarding events that happened at the picnic). We sat for a bit and talked about what happened. I knew we had gone past the point of no return. I was ashamed. I knew we both did something we shouldn’t have that day.”
Defense Lawyer Lorne Goddard said there was never a sexual assault committed. “He touched her on her back, there was no objection. He touched her on her stomach – no objection. He touched her breast – no objection at first and when she asked him to stop, he did. When she said no, he stopped and that is the rule,” said Goddard, adding evidence points to Schalk seducing the victim and she stopped him. “The evidence is not sufficient to warrant sexual assault.”
He also pointed to the fact the victim could not remember the exact date the alleged offence took place – a detail Goddard argued should have been remembered.
“We have the first instance where he touched her bottom and then after that she gets into a truck with a man she doesn’t trust anymore and she has no idea where they are going – I find this difficult to believe. A woman who is morbidly offended that he touched her bottom and she leaves town out into the country with him – it doesn’t make sense.”
Crown Prosecutor Dominique Mathurin said Schalk had a, “Mistaken belief of consent. It was an error of reality.”
She added after the first alleged incident where Schalk touched the victim’s buttocks, there was a clear indication the victim did not want anything like that to happen again.
“(The picnic incident) happened quickly not allowing the victim time to say no. She only had the opportunity to be upset after the fact – it happened so fast,” said Mathurin. “We are talking about someone who was vulnerable. Mr. Schalk was a pastor at the church she went to a couple of times and was her employer. There was willful blindness during the second incident given light of the first incident.
“One cannot make the assumption that because two people are flirting that a person would say yes.”
Judge Darrell Riemer will deliver his decision on Sept. 19th in Red Deer’s Provincial Court.