SYDNEY NS — A Victoria County man is now scheduled to be sentenced in March after being found guilty on a single count of sexual assault.
John Freeman Morris, 75, of McKinnons Harbour, was charged in connection with an incident at a Cape Breton golf course on July 11, 2021. The Cape Breton Post is not identifying the course in a bid to protect the identity of the victim. The victim’s name and any information that could result in her identity being known is banned from publication in accordance with a court order.
In delivering his verdict decision after presiding over a trial, provincial court Judge Peter Ross said the assault, while minor in nature, involved Morris giving a young woman a hug, which she described in her trial testimony as awkward, and then slapping her left buttock cheek with his hand.
The victim initially did not want to press charges in the case but later changed her mind.
In recounting the evidence presented at trial, Ross said the victim was working in another area of the course when she went to visit a co-worker in the canteen.
She entered the building through a side door and could see patrons coming to the take-out window.
Ross said the victim was familiar with Morris having seen him at the course on prior occasions.
She said Morris asked for a bottle of water and then came around to the side of the building, entered, gave her what she described as an awkward hug and then slapped her buttocks.
Ross said there was no evidence of Morris attempting to squeeze by the victim as he entered the building or that he was reaching out in a bid to prevent himself from falling at the time of the unwanted touching.
“There would be little reason to think she (the victim) would need the assistance of a 73-year-old man with a bum knee.” — Judge Peter Ross
Morris also testified at the trial and Ross summarized his evidence as “being incapable of belief.”
Morris said he pulled up the canteen window on his golf cart and wanted a bottle of water. He said he was in a bit of a hurry because he didn’t want to delay his golfing buddies.
Morris, who suffers from a knee problem, testified he went to the side door to help unload a golf cart for the two workers and to retrieve his water.
“There is no apparent reason why he would be served water at the side door,” noted Ross, adding he questioned why Morris would offer to help unload when he said he was in a hurry.
There was no request for help from either worker nor was there anything to unload.
“There would be little reason to think she (the victim) would need the assistance of a 73-year-old man with a bum knee,” said the judge.
Morris denied touching the young woman but did offer an apology at the time.
Ross said he felt that Morris was making things up as he went along in his trial testimony.
Sentencing in the case is now scheduled for March 2.