FORT ST. JOHN – It wasn’t long before a BC Supreme Court jury found a Fort St. John attorney not guilty of the sexual assault charges he faced.
According to the Vancouver Sun, it took a jury less than a day to acquit Robert Zuernert.
A Vancouver woman testified that she was attacked in a hotel room after first meeting Zuenert in a bar on the evening of February 18, 2020.
The woman cannot be identified due to a judicial publication ban.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the woman told the court that she went to the Railway Club for a drink with colleagues after work. She testified that she had a number of drinks and “let off steam” with her colleagues.
After several hours at the bar, the applicant testified that she had been “very drunk”.
The woman told the court she did not remember when she and the accused left the Railway Club. She said she remembered having trouble standing near the Vancouver Hotel on Georgia Street.
The woman admitted to the jury that she couldn’t quite remember the exact order of events when they happened.
The woman told the court the alleged sexual assault took place at the Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard Street.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the woman testified that after entering the hotel room, she fell face down on the bed “like a ton of bricks” after dropping her coat and purse.
She told the court she woke up with her pants and underwear off. She testified that the defendant was between her legs and performed oral sex on her.
QC Phillip Sebellin asked the woman if she consented to having sexual contact with the accused, her reply: “Absolutely not.”
When Zeunert, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, testified in his own defense, he told the eight-member, four-member jury a different story.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Zuenert testified that the two talked. He said he was attracted to her and thought she was a fun and intelligent woman.
Zuenert countered the woman’s statement. He testified that the woman had no mobility issues before getting into a taxi. Zuenert told the jury she didn’t appear drunk to him.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Zuenert told the jury that any sexual activity was consensual. Zuenert denied his accuser’s claim that he was a predator.
Zeunert was previously a BC Crown Prosecutor and Criminal Defense Attorney. He told the court he traveled to Vancouver to attend a Law Foundation of BC meeting
He said he had to resign from the organization’s board after the criminal charges against him surfaced.
According to the Vancouver Sun, when asked by defense attorney Richard Gibbs about the veracity of that evidence, Zeunert said, “My conclusion is that she lied.”
Zeunert, 59, admitted performing oral sex on her, but he insisted it was consensual.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Zeunert’s attorney, Richard Gibbs, in his final submissions to the jury, argued that the alleged victim lied about her level of intoxication and her claim that she passed out when she arrived at the hotel room. Gibbs urged the jury to come back quickly with an acquittal, which they did.
The woman’s attorney argued that the evidence presented in court was persuasive because the alleged victim passed out when the sex began and therefore could not have consented to the sexual act.
He told the jury that Zeunert’s testimony did not ring true and was not credible.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Zeunert’s attorney, Richard Gibbs, in his final submissions to the jury, argued that the alleged victim lied about her level of intoxication and her claim that she passed out when she arrived at the hotel room.
Gibbs urged the jury to come back quickly with an acquittal, which they did.