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MANDEL: Male stripper loses appeal of sex assault conviction

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It was the bachelorette party from hell.

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The bride-to-be went to a male strip club for some fun with her friends: a night to let loose, have a few drinks and ogle the eye candy of buff naked men and their six-pack abs. At some point, no doubt with her friends’ hearty encouragement, she went off with one of the strippers for a private lap dance in a VIP booth.

But the distraught bride would abruptly flee the booth after getting much more than a sexy performance.

The woman, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban, testified that she was stunned when Timothy Massey-Patel digitally penetrated her without her consent and briefly inserted his penis into her vagina, again without her consent.

She didn’t call out for help, she said, or vocalize her lack of consent to any of this touching because she was frozen in shock and felt powerless.

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At first, Massey-Patel denied it all. He then told police that he touches his clients, but stops if they say no. He then finally admitted penetrating her with his finger but said it was done with her enthusiastic consent. He insisted nothing more happened — but acknowledged his erect penis may have been near her vaginal area.

At trial, his lawyer suggested the woman concocted the sexual assault allegation because she regretted having let things go so far and had “bride’s remorse.”

In a test of credibility, Judge Feroza Bhabha, of the Ontario court of justice, chose Team Bride. She didn’t believe much of what the stripper had to say and convicted him on one count of sexual assault.

Massey-Patel appealed, arguing the verdict was unreasonable, and the judge relied on impermissible stereotypes, including that someone working in a strip club is less worthy of belief than a supposedly sexually naive patron.

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Bhabha, his lawyers said, should have given more weight to the testimony of a cashier, who didn’t see the woman looking upset, and the club manager, who testified the “waterworks” only began after she was told to pay.

In a decision released Tuesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal didn’t buy Massey-Patel’s arguments and upheld his conviction.

“The appellant’s account was discredited by the fact that, during the course of that (police) statement, his version of events moved from ‘indignant denial’ of sexual contact to admitting digital penetration,” Justice George Strathy wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel. “Quite simply, he lied about the core allegation.”

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The trial judge was entitled to believe the bride and her friends that she said, “What was supposed to happen in there?” as she fled the VIP booth, the Appeal Court ruled. If the cashier didn’t hear her, it was because the club was noisy, and she was distracted by other customers.

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Bhabha was equally entitled to reject the misleading testimony of the self-serving manager that sexual activity didn’t go on in the club, the panel said.

Perhaps the bowl of condoms in the VIP room didn’t help.

“Nor is there any basis for concluding that the trial judge relied on the stereotype of the sexually naive woman to bolster the complainant’s credibility or to undermine the appellant’s credibility,” the Appeal Court ruled.

“Instead, the trial judge accepted the complainant’s direct testimony that she was shocked at what was taking place, and that based on her one prior visit to a strip club where she had gone for a private dance, she was not expecting the kind of sexual contact that she alleged. These were findings the trial judge was entitled to make.”

As for Massey-Patel, he wasn’t disbelieved because he was an exotic dancer, the court found.

“There is simply no basis for concluding that the trial judge inferred that as a sex worker, the appellant is less worthy of belief, or more likely to commit sexual offences.”

And so it appears the stripper is destined to be performing for his prison mates for the near future.

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