National Post

Saturday, February 27, 1999

The facts in the 'no means no' case

Anne Marie Owens
National Post

It has come to be known as the "no means no" case and a controversial foray into the quagmire of consent and sexual assault.

This week, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of an Edmonton man and found him guilty of sexual assault.

These are the facts of the case, as outlined by the Supreme Court in its written decision:

It was June 2, 1994, when Steve Ewanchuk, then 44, encountered a 17-year-old woman and her roommate in the parking lot of the Heritage Mall in Edmonton.

He struck up a conversation with the women, saying he was in the custom wood-working business and was looking for staff to stand by the displays he often set up in shopping malls throughout the city.

The women indicated they might be interested in some part-time work and exchanged telephone numbers with Ewanchuk.

The next day, Ewanchuk and the 17-year-old agreed to meet again in the mall parking lot for an interview, which he suggested they hold in his van.

The interview was a "very business-like, polite" conversation, according to the victim.

After the interview, Ewanchuk asked if she would like to see some of his woodwork, which was in a trailer attached to the van.

The victim entered the trailer, purposely leaving the door open behind her. Ewanchuk followed her, closing the door in a way which made the woman believe he had locked it.

The pair sat down side by side, looking through a portfolio of his work for the next 15 minutes or so. After that, the conversation turned to more personal matters.

Ewanchuk was quite tactile, touching the victim's hand, arms and shoulder as he spoke. At one point, he said he was feeling tense and asked her to give him a massage. She complied, massaging his shoulders briefly.

When she finished, he suggested they switch.

The victim said Ewanchuk started to try to massage around her stomach, bringing his hands up close to her breasts. She used her elbows to push him away and said, "No."

He stopped immediately, but resumed shortly afterwards with non-sexual massaging, which the victim again rejected with a "No."

Ewanchuk stopped again, saying, "See, I'm a nice guy. It's OK."

He asked the woman to face him, and he then began massaging her feet. The touching gradually progressed to her inner thigh and pelvis.

The woman testified during the trial that she did not want Ewanchuk to touch her, but was afraid and did not want to do anything to egg him on.

He laid himself on top of the victim and began grinding his pelvis against hers, saying, "he could get me so horny so that I would want it so bad and he wouldn't give it to me because he had self-control."

After less than a minute of this, the woman again asked Ewanchuk to stop.

He stopped, and told her not to be afraid.

He went to hug the woman and, as he did so, laid on top of her again, resumed the pelvic grinding, and began moving his hands on the woman's inner thigh. While still on top of her, he began to fumble with his shorts and took out his penis.

At this point, the woman again asked the accused to desist, saying, "No, stop."

Ewanchuk stopped immediately, got up from the victim, smiled and said, "See, I'm a nice guy. I stopped."

He hugged the girl again, opened up his wallet and handed her a $100 bill, saying it was for the massage and not to tell anyone about it.

The woman said she had to go. Ewanchuk opened the door and she left.

Copyright Southam Inc.