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Al-Rawi tells RCMP officer he never forced woman to have sex with him

Closing arguments wrapped up Friday at former Halifax taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi’s retrial on a charge of sexually assaulting a woman in his cab in May 2015. - Ryan Taplin
Former cab driver Bassam Al-Rawi is seen during a break in his trial at Halifax provincial court in 2015. Al-Rawi's sexual assault trial in relation to an incident on Dec. 15, 2012, is expected to sit for 11 days in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. - Ryan Taplin - File

Bassam Al-Rawi told an RCMP officer he remembers the complainant’s face but he didn’t force her to have sex with him. 

A 45-minute video from the former Halifax taxi driver’s voluntary interview with an RCMP officer on March 22, 2013, was played during the third day of his sexual assault trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday. 

Al-Rawi was charged with sexual assault after a woman claimed he picked her up when she was intoxicated in downtown Halifax, took her back to his apartment and raped her as she pretended to be asleep on Dec. 15, 2012. 

In the interview room Al-Rawi is accompanied by a man, who at times provides translation. The officer tells him he isn’t under arrest and the pair are free to leave whenever they want. 

When shown a photo of the complainant, Al-Rawi says “her face looks familiar,” but it’s been a few months since the alleged incident. 

The officer goes over the details of the complainant’s accusations, to which Al-Rawi responds “never ever” in his life has he forced someone to have sex with him. 

After the officer says she has video footage of him and a woman in the parkade and lobby of his apartment, Al-Rawi admits the woman slept over at his place. 

“Something happened,” Al-Rawi says, but adds he didn’t force her to do anything. He follows up the statement by asking, “so what does she want?” The officer explains the RCMP are doing an investigation and the complainant isn’t looking for anything.

During the interview, Al-Rawi notes he doesn’t drink, smoke marijuana or cigarettes. 

The officer explains to Al-Rawi, although it may not apply to this incident, if one person is sober and the other person is too intoxicated to consent to sexual activity, it’s illegal. 

“If we had sex, that’s what she wanted,” Al-Rawi tells the officer, adding a connection would have been made before having sex, but he doesn’t remember. 

Al-Rawi agrees to do a polygraph test, if necessary, to show he hasn’t forced anyone to have sex with him before. 

Al-Rawi asks if he would be able to sit with the complainant and officer in a room to discuss what happened, but his request is rejected. 

He reiterates to the officer that while he does date a lot, he has never forced anyone to sleep with him. 

Earlier in the day, defence lawyer Ian Hutchison finished his cross-examination of the complainant. 

Hutchison asked if the complainant if it was possible she returned to the bed, naked, and laid down next to the driver because she had consented to sexual activity. 

While the complainant agreed she was conscious for the entire duration and remembered some parts of the sexual activity, she “did not agree to the sexual incident” and only returned to the bed after being in the bathroom because she believed it was the safest option. 

The complainant agreed with Hutchison that at no point did the driver become aggressive, stop her physically from leaving or threaten her when she went to go to the bathroom. 

After leaving the bathroom, the complainant said she doesn’t know why she didn’t go to the living room to get her cellphone and that she didn’t think she could walk very far, so she didn’t leave the apartment. 

Hutchison asked the complainant if it was possible she threw up several times in the bathroom at the driver’s house on Dec. 15, 2012, because she had food poisoning. 

The complainant disagreed, saying she recognized the “type of sickness” as being from alcohol consumption. 

A friend and an acquaintance of the complainant, both under a publication ban, also testified Monday. 

Separately, the two detailed their time with the complainant on Dec. 14, 2012, and into the early hours of Dec. 15. Both said they and the complainant were quite intoxicated when they left the Split Crow Pub. 

The acquaintance of the complainant testified he hung back from three friends after leaving the Split Crow Pub to help the complainant walk because she was so intoxicated.

Hutchison noted the acquaintance of the complainant’s testimony Monday differed from the statement he gave police in January 2013, when he said he helped her walk because of her heels and the sidewalk conditions. 

Crown attorney Carla Ball is to call more witnesses to the stand Tuesday morning. 

The judge-alone trial, before Justice Gerald Moir, is expected to sit for 11 days in total. 

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