Judge reserves decision in Blais sexual assault trial

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Kyle Blais, who maintains residences in both Grande Prairie and McLennan, was in Falher provincial court on Sept. 5 facing accusations of sexual assault from the mother of his children and his former wife, Margaret Celeste Di Bernardo.

The alleged sexual assault occurred on Dec. 26 in the St. Albert area where the couple were temporarily subletting a home.

Blais was also charged with assaulting Di Bernardo in July 2017 and April 2018, but his defence lawyer Amy Lind said he was entering guilty pleas on those assaults, so only the sexual assault proceeded to trial.

Di Bernardo provided emotional and at times graphic testimony of the incident via CCTV, often breaking into tears. She said Blais forced her to give him oral sex while she was “actively nursing” their new baby.

She said he didn’t make any explicit threats, “But he did imply if I didn’t take care of him things would be difficult for me.”

During questioning, she said she felt she could not refuse, “Because he’d already beaten me up before.”

“I couldn’t say no because it would make him more aggressive,” she testified.

The couple have two children together. The alleged incident occurred while Di Bernardo was still recovering from both the C section to deliver their second child and an unexpected hernia surgery. She had been told by doctors to rest.

“They were worried about rupture,” Di Bernardo said.

“I was in a lot of pain. I remember it took me quite a while to comfortably stand, or go to the washroom. I was surprised how much pain I was in.”

When Blais allegedly approached her for oral sex while she was nursing their baby on the couch, she said she remembered saying something along the lines of, “I’m in a lot of pain, please don’t.”

Blais took the stand and vigorously denied Di Bernardo’s version of events, saying she had offered to pleasure him.

He said before the alleged incident they were discussing his concerns about Di Bernardo’s health and their shared monetary worries.

“Miss Di Bernardo was a model. The fact she now had a surgical scar was of great concern to that,” he testified.

He said he believed she would be unavailable to him sexually for two to three months at least while she recovered.

“She expressed a desire to prove to me that she was still able to satisfy me and in fact offered to perform oral sex on me,” he said. “I remember being extremely surprised she was expressing a belief she could even perform those actions.”

When asked what he felt at the time, Blais said, “Disbelief and excitement that this could be possible.”

When his lawyer asked him if she said no because she was in too much pain, Blais said, “There was a sentiment of ‘Let’s try to find out if this should be a no.’”

“My belief was that she was offering it in order to enthusiastically reward her partner for providing significantly better care than during her first pregnancy,” he said.

He added he had a “high quality memory” of the events of that day.

“It was a day of high emotional value so it was stamped in my memory,” Blais testified.

Prosecutor Jim Brydon questioned Blais’ recall of events.

“But you can’t recall her specific comments to you? You can’t recall if she was breastfeeding at the time, can you?”

Blais said he never claimed his memory was perfect.

Following up on Di Bernardo’s testimony that Blais often liked to choke her and may have had his hand around her neck, Brydon asked, “Would you have choked her?”

“Very unlikely considering she was holding the baby,” Blais said.

“That’s not a no, is it?” Brydon said.

“No,” Blais said.

“You don’t know if you choked her?” Brydon asked.

“Yes I know I did not choke her on that day, excuse the imprecision of my language,” Blais said.

“So you might well have choked her?” Brydon asked again.

“I don’t remember,” Blais responded.

Blais denied making any threats of violence. Pressed on whether he believed he had Di Bernardo’s consent, he said, “Yes I believe she wanted to.”

“She didn’t do anything to stop the process.”

During concluding remarks, prosecution argued that Blais did not recall many important details of the alleged incident and was a dishonest witness.

“There was no consent,” Byrdon said, “Only yes means yes, and anything else means no.”

Byrdon also said the way Blais gave evidence said as much as the content of his actual answers. He noted that despite the fact he was surrounded by guards and in court, Blais tried to “exert his own authority” over the

courtroom.

“One can only imagine what his demeanor is behind closed doors,” Brydon said.

He argued Blais had not had to say outright that he was controlling and aggressive.

“By his actions, his manner, and his demeanor, he demonstrated it,” he said.

Defence lawyer Amy Lind said neither Blais nor Di Bernardo seemed to have a completely clear recollection of events. She said if the court decided to believe one, it would have to reject the other.

“Nothing really discredited either of them,” she said.

She also said his other charges for assaulting Di Bernardo did not discredit Blais.

“I think it gives him credibility,” she said.

“He came before the court acknowledging all the things he did that were not appropriate in the relationship,” she added.

Judge Ambrose put over his decision on the matter until Oct. 25, when Blais will appear in Peace River court and will also be entering his guilty pleas for the other alleged assaults.

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