A 14-year-old White Rock boy took the stand in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday to testify against a man charged with groping him.
From behind a screen, the soft-spoken teen told Judge Melissa Gillespie that the accused, Robert James Antoniak, came into his room one night in February 2014 – while his dad was in the bathroom during a break from playing cards – put his hand on his bed, and then slid it over top of his “private parts.”
“He put (his hand) on the side of the bed at first,” said the teen – whose identity is protected by a publication ban – in response to questions from prosecutor Adam Jantunen. “I didn’t think anything of it. (Then), he moved his hand toward my left leg… toward my private parts.”
Antoniak was a South Surrey resident at the time of the alleged incident. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault and “sexual interference of person under 16.”
The teen went on to tell the court that Antoniak grabbed his penis through the covers and groped it for “three or four seconds,” before he swiped the visitor’s hand away and yelled for his father.
In cross-examination, defence counsel Alexander Ejsmont questioned the accuracy of the boy’s memory. He pointed to differences between what the boy told police a year ago – including that the reason he didn’t speak out right away was because he wasn’t sure if what happened was an accident – and what the court was hearing Wednesday.
“I just didn’t think he would do that type of thing,” the boy said, when asked to explain.
Ejsmont, however, suggested the inconsistencies – which he said included differences in what the boy’s dad told police regarding his own reaction on the night in question, as well as if the accused spent time with the father and son after the incident – were because the incident “never happened.”
“I’m suggesting the reason we can’t get our stories straight… is because Robert was never in your room and never came up to the bed.”
Outside court, Ejsmont told Peace Arch News he did not expect his client – who attended Wednesday’s proceedings with his stepfather – to testify.
The boy’s father told PAN the following morning that he was “quite proud” of his son for taking the stand, and that his son told him after that he had no problem facing the accused.
The father said his son knows it’s not OK to start a fight, but “he has my full permission to stand up for himself.”
“He knows I’ve got his back,” he said.
The proceedings were expected to wrap up Thursday, after PAN press time.