Real estate agent tells trial of alleged sex assault
A Winnipeg real estate agent says she was randomly attacked by a man who tricked her into believing he wanted to purchase some property as part of an elaborate ruse to get her alone.
Joseph Davis, 41, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault causing bodily harm for a December 2007 incident justice officials believe had been carefully planned. His weeklong trial began Monday with the alleged victim describing her harrowing fight for freedom.
"He attacked me. There can be no other reason for how this all happened," the woman told court. She said she received a call from Davis, who was using the bogus name of "Tom Collins" and claimed he wanted to purchase a new home. He claimed to have found her name through the Real Estate News, then later said he'd visited her office, saw her picture and thought she was "really good-looking."
The woman said she was slightly uncomfortable but brushed aside that comment while taking him to see several residences. She eventually went to his West Kildonan apartment on the belief she would be writing a purchase offer. Davis claimed to have already secured financing and wanted to close the deal.
She said the meeting quickly turned from business to criminal when Davis allegedly grabbed her crotch and put his other hand around her neck while shoving her onto a bed.
"It was shocking to me. I knew I was about to get hurt unless I did something. I had to get out of there," she said. The woman still had a pen in her hand, which she used to stab Davis in the chest, shattering it on impact. She also grabbed his glasses and broke them, hoping he wouldn't be able to see without them.
"I won't say I was in panic mode, but definitely in flight mode," said the woman. "I think he was shocked at the speed of my reaction."
She ran towards the front door, with Davis now apologizing for what he'd done.
"He was saying things like, 'Oh why did I do that, now I've got to turn myself in to police,' " she said. "He looked scared. He was asking if we could still write the offer."
The woman fled outside, got in her vehicle and drove away. She immediately called a friend, then police.
"The police made me feel really horrible at first. It was actually awful. They didn't seem interested in taking a statement," she said. Investigators in the sex crimes unit took a much more serious approach once the file was transferred to them and Davis was identified as the suspect, she said.
Police executed a search warrant at his home, seizing several items including a computer. Officers searched his hard drive and discovered he had been conducting disturbing online searches for photos and videos depicting violent sexual attacks against real estate agents, court was told. There was also evidence he had been scouring Winnipeg property listings and agents to find the perfect target and location to commit his crime.
Davis was arrested in January 2008 and has been in custody since, after being denied bail. He had been working as a tow truck driver at the time of the attack.
Crown attorney Melinda Murray asked the alleged victim if she gave off any signs to Davis she was interested in a sexual relationship.
"No, I was doing my job as a professional real estate agent," she said. The woman said there is no question Davis's actions were deliberate and not the result of some accident or misunderstanding.
She said the incident has changed the way she now does business, as she always brings another person with her to do a showing. The incident also shocked members of the local real estate community and prompted reminders about safety when alone with clients.