The re-trial of a former City of Belleville employee sentenced on two sexual assault convictions against a co-worker has resulted in the same guilty verdict, however he could receive a stiffer penalty.
In 2014, 63-year-old Cecil Courneyea was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months house arrest and three years probation, however he was later granted a re-trial that concluded in October 2016.
On Wednesday, Justice Geoffrey Griffin found Courneyea guilty of the charges that stemmed from two separate incidents in August, 2013. Griffin said Courneyea’s evidence wasn’t consistent and it didn’t raise reasonable doubt.
Courneyea has denied any inappropriate sexual touching ever took place between him and his former colleague.
The complainant, a city woman, had testified that Courneyea touched her breast and gave her a necklace during a meeting in a storage shed behind a city-owned building and then sexually touched her later that evening at her home.
Courneyea, the former city parking co-ordinator was known by other staff as being able to help, through the power of positive thinking.
It was suggested by another co-worker that she seek the help of Courneyea to try and turn things around following a bad breakup resulting in depression and heavy drinking.
A flurry of text messages between them showed Courneyea asked her to “keep this between us until we get you better.”
On August 2, Courneyea was called into a meeting with city staff and union officials. His employment was soon terminated.
Wednesday, Griffin said he believed their relationship was more akin to a therapist and patient, not of two city employees. He said Courneyea believed he could help her and she was fooled because she desperately wanted his help.
He believed there was a lot more that went on than Courneyea just holding her hand and saying “you need to get rid of your demons.”
That’s why he wanted to keep it a secret. His texts saying he was dreaming about her and suggesting she stand in the mirror naked is an obvious sexual component.
Justice Griffin stated, “I don’t believe his evidence that he didn’t touch her breasts or naked body.”
He concluded by saying he believed the victim beyond a reasonable doubt.
Courneyea’s sentence is set for December 5 however when looking at the Ontario Court of Appeals, Griffin said there was a similar case that caught his attention where the guilty party’s sentence was doubled after appealing the first sentence.
Courneyea’s lawyer Mike Prestell suggested his client receive credit for time already served on his conditional sentence and that the court go over medical material he plans to file.
Hastings County Assistant Crown Attorney Mike Lunski agreed with the proceedings in light of the similar appeal case brought forward.