Former paramedic convicted of sexually assaulting woman when she was 71

KENTVILLE, N.S. — A former paramedic has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a 71-year-old woman in the bedroom of her rural Nova Scotia home in 2013, as his colleague tended to her ailing husband one floor below.

However, Judge Claudine MacDonald found James Duncan Keats not guilty of a second charge of sexual assault in a matter involving the same woman in 2012. Keats was also acquitted of two counts of breach of trust following a trial that began last September.

Crown attorney Bill Fergusson said outside Kentville provincial court that he wasn’t surprised by the acquittal, acknowledging that there were discrepancies in the woman’s recollection of the alleged incident. But he said there was enough evidence to convict on one assault charge.

“Of the two sexual assaults, it was the more obvious one,” he said outside the courtroom in Kentville, N.S. “The other sexual assault, even the victim herself didn’t have much to say about that one.”

Court heard that Keats sexually assaulted the woman, who was 71 years old at the time of the offence on May 26, 2013, after he and his partner responded to a call involving her husband at their home.

In reading the facts of the case, MacDonald said Keats took the woman upstairs to her bedroom to examine her when she complained of chest pains after her husband fell in their kitchen.

MacDonald told the court that Keats asked her to lay on the bed, undressed her, fondled her and had intercourse with her, telling her, “You’re going to feel so much better.”

Court heard that the woman pleaded with him to stop, but that he persisted and kissed her hand when he left the room, saying “You’re a beautiful lady.”

The trial, which started last September, heard that the woman provided swab samples and bed sheets that later found DNA from her and Keats, along with semen.

MacDonald found him not guilty of sexually assaulting the woman, who had angina, hip problems and uses a catheter, when she was being taken by ambulance to hospital the previous September, saying there were inconsistencies in her testimony.

The woman said he quickly fondled her while another paramedic drove to the hospital.

“There were occasions when the complainant exaggerated some of what she said took place…and there was confusion in some of her evidence,” MacDonald told the court.

MacDonald acquitted Keats of the breach of trust charge related to the sexual assault in her home because he was employed by a private company at the time and was not an appointed or elected official.

Defence lawyer Chrystal MacAulay said outside court that her client was pleased with the acquittals, but disappointed with the single conviction. She said she will consider appealing the decision.

Fergusson said he would seek more than two years in jail when Keats is sentenced in August.

Alison Auld, The Canadian Press