Former regional chief claims accuser never visited him

WAGMATCOOK: A former Assembly of First Nation (AFN) regional chief testified that he could never have sexually assaulted a women in his We’koqma’q First Nation home, nearly a decade ago, because he was never home alone.

Morley Googoo testified in his own defence on April 29 in provincial court in Wagmatcook First Nation.

According to information provided by the Nova Scotia Judiciary, Crown Prosecutor Tracey Sturmy told the court in her closing arguments specifics provided by Googoo do not corroborate with his whereabouts for every hour during the month of March 2013.

“With the respect to Mr. Googoo, it’s clear that he desperately wants to remember what happened in March 2013, and he wants the court to rely on his testimony,” Sturmy said. “I would mention to the court that it’s clear that what he is actually doing is taking Facebook posts and pictures and trying to piece together an alibi to speak to each and every day that happened in March of 2013.”

Sturmy mentioned that Googoo talked about a specific memory of driving from P.E.I. and driving all the way to Sydney, right down to the details of having supper and his child playing video games.

“That’s just not plausible that he would have that distinct of a memory of Mach 18, 2013. It hurts his credibility to give that kind of evidence,” Sturmy said. “His evidence is based on his desire to fill out an alibi for the entire month of March 2013.”

While on a trip visiting his ailing grandmother in February 2020, Googoo received a text messages from the complainant forgiving him for sexual assault.

“I just said, ‘Forgive me for what?’” Googoo testified in court. “I didn’t know how to reply.”

After inquiring what the woman was talking about, the then AFN regional chief was informed he sexually assaulted her seven years prior in 2013.

The 53-year-old, who served nine terms as chief of We’koqma’q First Nation and three terms as the AFN’s regional chief, suggested the alleged claim couldn’t have been possible in 2013, as his schedule simply wouldn’t have allowed it.

Googoo testified he was regularly assigned on AFN business trips and for the month in question, March 2013, his defence used social media posts and pictures, along with flight, hotel, conference agendas and other travel documents, as evidence.

On April 22, the trial heard from the women accusing the former AFN vice-chief of sexual assault who testified she felt strange after drinking a soft drink Googoo provided her on the night of the alleged encounter.

The woman, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban, told the court she visited Googoo at his home to discuss the opportunity to bring an anti-violence program aimed at youth to a First Nation community, when she was sexually assaulted.

In his closing arguments, defence lawyer Chris Conohon told the court he was satisfied the trial evidence shows Googoo could not have committed the offence.

“We find ourselves in a situation where my client has been alleged to have done something horrendous,” Conohon said. “I did not find (the complainant) was forthright or compelling, she could not describe the mechanism of the allegation in a logical, reasonable, believable manner.”

Conohon suggested one of the great things about the Canadian legal system is that people must prove their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I don’t want to pat my client or myself on the back too hard, but I’d have a hard time going back and setting out what myself did in March 2022,” Conohon said. “Let alone the amount of work and attention it took to track down Facebook pages, flight itineraries, records that would normally be lost, that normally wouldn’t be kept by organizations.”

The variety and different type of records the defence was able to obtain, Conohon said caves out Googoo’s entire month.

“There’s not one day that is not accounted for other than the 1 and the 2,” Conohon said. “And by the testimony of the complainant herself, it didn’t happen until after March Break.”

The court has also previously heard testimony from Googoo’s ex-wife, his son and a neighbour, who is a relative of the family, during the judge-alone trial.

Googoo is now expected to return to Wagmatcook Provincial Court in June for his verdict.