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Tisdale Rape Case

Another Saskatchewan disgrace

Over the summer this case became a cause celébre for several organisations, including a group calling for harsher treatment of child molesters who capitalised on the publicity from this case and the Holly Jones abduction/murder in Toronto.

In Saskatchewan, MLAs from the Saskatchewan Party spoke at rallies in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. Many of the same people who encouraged people to rally under the slogan "Believe the children" participated.

Social Services apprehended the children from the Campeau home on a First Nation near Tisdale.

The first trial saw a conviction, the second two acquittals. The cast was slightly different at the second trial. The racism was there although the Crown and defence lawyers protested otherwise. Everything will likely be appealed.

Different interpretations of racism have been expressed. What no one has stated is that the mother-of-all-racism, social and economic inequality, drove this case from beginning to end. Three privileged young men, well-mannered when sober, got drunk and acted out some kind of privilege on a twelve year old girl from an impoverished family. Nothing in the conduct of anyone at that trial suggested how these conditions might change.

There is a lot of bitterness all round. And no justice. There can be no justice without learning. The girl will have learned that society is just as bad as her mother told her it was. The three young men will likely not talk about it much so that any learning they experience will become part of some weird ironic core which forms most men from farming communities -- growing up in rural Saskatchewan is kind of like having been to war. It is neither and both as horrific or heroic as they make it out to be and that "strong silence" gets glorified into myth.
--Sheila Steele, June 28, 2003.

Dean Edmondson Jeffrey Kindrat Jeffrey Brown

The trial of the first of three men charged with sexual assault after picking up a 12 year old girl, getting her drunk and taking her into the bush resulted in a guilty verdict despite crown prosecutor Gary Parker's failure to provide any solid evidence against the accused. The trial was so full of errors that the conviction will most certainly be overturned on appeal.

Harradence should have asked for a directed verdict before the jury was ever allowed to convene.

While it is important for the justice system to send a strong message to the community that we do not tolerate adults picking up children, giving them booze and taking them to the back roads, there are more effective ways to do this than railroading an accused person.

What was Judge Kovach thinking of when he allowed into evidence a taped interview of the accused by RCMP which ignored his request for a lawyer and encouraged him to place the blame on his companions in exchange for leniency?

Before we can send any messages to the community, we have to send a telegram to the police.

Long before RCMP Corporal Jack Ramsay played fast and loose with northern girls in 1953, and continuing to this day there are cops who use their position to get sexual favours from vulnerable minors.

Whether they like it or not RCMP officers must set an example in the communities they police. The use of bad interrogation techniques, acceptance without scrutiny of information provided by social workers and mishandling of evidence -- bending the law -- cannot be tolerated.

Neither should prosecutors and judges tailor their interpretations of the law to satisfy the public appetite for salacious details which have not been subjected to cross-examination (in this case, dropping the bomb that the girl's father's DNA matched material found on her panties).

Lawyer Hugh Harradence

Not that defence lawyer Hugh Harradence (above) set a shining example, either. He was in a position to stop the proceedings in their tracks if he had made more vigorous defence of his client's constitutional rights. But if he had stopped the trial he would not get to go to a sentencing hearing and then to appeal court -- appearances for which he will be able to send a handsome bill to the accused's parents.

While the trial was going on, I had placed some comments on this page which were not sufficiently considered and I have taken them down. The race issue is certainly a factor in this heartbreaking case. The roles of social worker Susan Paseida and the foster family where the girl was placed, despite her desire to stay with her family, also raise troubling questions. When the justice system works properly, it is easier to separate the faults of other malfunctioning institutions. And when the justice system goes wrong, the whole thing goes wrong. --Sheila Steele

Conditional sentence for sex assault on 12-year-old

MELFORT, SK. - A Saskatchewan judge drew accusations of racism Thursday when he said a 12-year-old aboriginal girl may have been a willing participant or even the aggressor in sexual activity with the 26-year-old man accused of assaulting her.

Dean Edmondson will be confined to his house for two years rather than a jail cell after receiving what Justice Fred Kovach conceded was a rare conditional sentence for sexual assault.

Mr. Edmondson will be electronically monitored during the sentence but will likely be allowed to go to work or leave the house for other reasons if given prior permission by his supervisor.

He will have to perform 200 hours of community service, take alcohol and sex offender counselling, and pay a $500 victim surcharge.

As Mr. Kovach read the sentence, supporters and family members of the now 14-year-old aboriginal girl stormed out of the courtroom shouting and accusing the court of racism.

The girl's enraged father walked out of the courthouse and punched in the headlights of his own van before being led away by supporters.

"The young white man was sitting there with the judge protecting him," a family spokesman told reporters outside court.

"Who has justice served here? It sure wasn't our aboriginal child.

"There's racist lawyers and racist judges in the justice system here in Canada. Those guys don't belong here. They ought to be kicked out," he said.

Mr. Edmondson waited more than an hour before leaving the courthouse with his parents by a back door.

The case has attracted national attention for the last two years.

In September 2001, Mr. Edmondson and two friends were drinking heavily and driving on country roads near Tisdale, Sask., when they met the girl on the steps of a small town bar.

The 89-pound girl accepted a ride and the men, all in their 20s, gave her several beers to drink.

Shortly after, she ended up in Mr. Edmondson's lap in the driver's seat and the two kissed.

Outside the truck, Mr. Edmondson attempted to have sex with her but could not get an erection.

His companions also tried unsuccessfully to have intercourse with her.

Mr. Edmondson was convicted in May of being a party to the sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

The other two men were acquitted in a separate trial, which also led to outrage in the aboriginal community.

On Thursday, Mr. Kovach noted that this sexual assault was on the more severe end of the spectrum, and these types of crimes almost always result in lengthy penitentiary sentences.

"I think it's clear from the authorities that a conditional sentence would be rare indeed," Mr. Kovach said.

But he then cited earlier testimony suggesting the girl was frequently abused by her father.

He quoted the testimony of a pediatrician who said an abused child may show "unpredictable sexual behaviour."

This suggests the girl may have been a "willing participant" or "the aggressor" in the incident, he said.

"That in no way condones Mr. Edmondson's conduct, (but) in my opinion is a factor in sentencing."

The girl also got into the men's truck willingly, drank beer, and lied about her age.

These factors all must be taken into account in sentencing, he said.

It would have been much more serious, for example, if a girl had been snatched off the street on her way home from school and forced into sexual activity.

"No one has any business involving themselves sexually with anyone that age," Mr. Kovach said. "That being said, there are clearly degrees. There is a difference from a sentencing perspective."

Mr. Edmondson's 53 letters of support from friends and family filed in court shows he has substantial community support, Mr. Kovach said.

He noted Mr. Edmondson had been deemed a low risk to reoffend by a psychologist, and said he would not pose a danger to the community.

The very unusual facts suggest a jail term is "not necessarily required," he said.

In a brief statement to reporters, Crown prosecutor Gary Parker said he'll pass the file to justice officials in Regina to consider an appeal.

Defence lawyer Hugh Harradence said he feels the sentence was just and Mr. Edmondson was relieved.

Advocacy groups on hand denounced it.

"This is a (decision) against all children in Canada," said Kripa Shekar of the Saskatchewan Action Committee for the Status of Women.

"We should all be very, very concerned. Blame the victim is the message we got from the court."

Bob Hughes of the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism predicted the sentence would worsen racial tensions.

He said Mr. Edmondson should have been forced to spend time in the aboriginal community and to speak to young children about responsible attitudes and behaviour.

"The process has blamed the child and her family. We are treading on very serious ground," Mr. Hughes said.

Jury told to focus on girl's age

MELFORT, SK -- The fate of a man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old aboriginal girl with his two friends is now in the hands of the jury.

Jurors spent much of night Wednesday deliberating before retiring at about 11 p.m. They were expected to resume this morning.

Dean Edmondson, 26, and two other men are accused of picking up the girl in September 2001, getting her drunk in the back of their truck, and then attempting to have sex with her on a secluded country road near Tisdale.

"It is rather obvious all three committed the sexual assault. When the sexual activity occurs, (the girl) cannot stand, talk, or walk without assistance," regional Crown prosecutor Gary Parker told the jury in his closing remarks Wednesday.

Parker said that a 12 year old girl cannot legally consent to sex. And even if she was older -- or they reasonably thought she was older -- she was drunk and incapable of consent. He noted the girl also testified one of the men tried to pull her pants down and she tried to pull them back up.

He said the other signs -- various bruises and cuts to her knees, back, buttocks, and inner thighs -- are consistent with sexual assault. She was also screaming and holding her crotch when taken to hospital later that night, he said.

Parker said the girl may not have said 'no' because it would have been futile. She was less than five-feet tall and weighed 89 pounds, while the three men weighed more than 500 pounds collectively.

Parker said Edmondson "didn't care about her age" and did not take reasonable steps to obtain it.

He noted Edmondson gave a statement to police saying he held the girl while the other two attempted sex with her. "Is that consensual sexual activity?" Parker asked.

Edmondson's lawyer Hugh Harradence addressed the jury next. He reminded jurors they must judge his client based on the law, not their own moral standard. He also said it's not enough to think Edmondson is "probably" guilty, because it must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

One central point is that Edmondson had good reason to honestly believe the girl was older, which is important under certain sections of the Criminal Code. The girl testified she told the men she was nearly 15 years old, gave them a false name, and said she was from Saskatoon. The age of consent is 14.

A pediatrician also testified the girl was physically mature, and a bar owner said the girl looked over 14.

Harradence questioned the credibility of the girl, saying these and other examples demonstrate "her ability to be less than truthful."

He also said the girl "initiated sexual contact" by climbing into the front seat of the vehicle and into the lap of Edmondson.

Harradence again raised the alleged sexual abuse the girl has suffered at the hands of her father, saying abused children can act in sexually unpredictable ways.

"This man is entitled to a verdict of not guilty," Harradence said.

Justice Fred Kovach told the jury in his final remarks that they cannot speculate or make up theories. They must decide the case on the facts alone.

The jury returned to the courtroom three times to ask questions or for the judge to clarify earlier remarks.

Although none of the testimony mentioned the race of those involved, many of the girl's supporters have made it an issue outside court.

Some claimed it would be impossible for an aboriginal girl to get justice when her alleged attackers are three white men.

They questioned the makeup of the jury -- apparently all Caucasian and nine of 12 are male.

And just as Harradence was in the middle of his closing remarks, a group of aboriginal drummers and singers began to play loudly outside the courtroom. The court clerk hurried to close the doors and windows of the second-floor courtroom, but the pounding drum beat was still clear for the remainder of Harradence's remarks.

Lance Crowe, one of the drummers, said they showed up to support the girl, but also to remind the jury that they should give the matter fair treatment.

The case has also drawn observers from the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism, the Saskatchewan Action Committee for the Status of Women, Indian Child and Family Services, various Indian chiefs, prominent local lawyers not involved in the case, and many others.

Edmondson and his parents had to walk past the performing drummers, television microphones and cameras, and about 20 of the girl's supporters on their way out of court for lunch Wednesday.

Harradence was asked about the drumming when speaking to reporters outside court. "People are entitled to do whatever they want outside the courtroom. We have a job to do inside the courtroom," Harradence said.

Harradence, who is also a member of the commission studying aboriginal justice, said he'd like to believe that the demonstration "was completely unrelated to this case."

The trial of the other two men accused -- Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat -- is scheduled for next month.

Edmondson convicted of assaulting young girl

MELFORT, SK -- A 26-year-old man has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a then-12-year-old girl on a gravel road outside Tisdale in the fall of 2001.

"Guilty" was the only word spoken by the foreman, one of the three women on the 12-person jury. The verdict, which was unanimous, was delivered about 10 a.m. Friday on the third day of deliberations.

Dean Edmondson, wearing black dress pants, a white shirt and a tie as he has throughout the two-week trial, showed no emotion as the verdict was read in the Court of Queen's Bench.

His parents, who attended every moment of the proceedings, sat expressionless with hands folded on their laps.

Before he was led out of court, Edmondson stared briefly out of the courthouse window.

He was not taken into custody, and is free until sentencing. That will occur June 27 following the trial of the two other Tisdale men accused in the incident, Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat.

Edmondson and his parents left court, and said only "no comment" as they walked past reporters.

"My client and I are disappointed," said Edmondson's lawyer Hugh Harradence.

"Dean's concerned and so are his mom and dad."

Harradence said he'll recommend Edmondson appeal the finding.

Justice Fred Kovach allowed Edmondson's 2001 video statement to police to become evidence at the trial, even though Kovach said Friday the RCMP officer's conduct was "close to the line of what should be tolerated."

The officer came close to making promises to Edmondson in exchange for disclosure, and Edmondson also asked about his lawyer more than once during the interview.

"The (police) practice should not be encouraged," Kovach stated, but said the statement was still admissible.

Harradence thinks the police officer's conduct went "over the line" and the statement should not have been admitted.

The aboriginal girl's parents, who attended much of the proceedings, also left the courthouse without commenting.

Robert Whitehead, chief of the Yellowquill First Nation, said the verdict was "encouraging" but said he had mixed feelings about the process.

Some critics were concerned there were apparently no aboriginal people on the jury for an assault allegedly committed by three white men on an aboriginal girl.

"As aboriginal people, we do have some compassion for those who are wronged, but also (for) those who do wrong," Whitehead said.

The jury had told the judge Thursday afternoon they were "not making any progress" in their deliberations, but came up with a verdict an hour after getting together Friday morning.

"I'm surprised and disappointed that they would come back so quickly this morning," Harradence said.

Harradence noted Edmondson has no previous criminal record and has a good job, but wouldn't say what type of sentence he'll be arguing for.

Regional Crown prosecutor Gary Parker said he couldn't talk about the verdict or specifics of the case, as he didn't want to affect the Brown and Kindrat trial.

He said only that it was apparent the jury took the necessary time and care to reach its verdict.

"It is a significant decision (and) it speaks well of the jury process," Parker said.

The case has drawn many observers, and included a loud aboriginal drumming and singing performance outside the courthouse. It could be clearly heard in the courtroom, and continued throughout most of Harradence's closing remarks Wednesday.

Other groups, such as the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism, were highly critical of the process, claiming an aboriginal girl cannot get justice in a place like Melfort or from an all-Caucasian jury.

The girl's father also became the subject of discussion during the trial. His DNA sample showed he was a probable match to the semen found on the girl's panties. The girl also confided to her foster mother that her birth father had sexually abused her since she was two years old, court heard.

But the girl denied this in her testimony, although she admitted he beat her and her mother repeatedly.

The father attended much of the Edmondson trial, and denied in an interview he ever abused his daughter.

Father may be source of girl's trauma, pediatrician testifies

MELFORT -- A pediatrician testifying in a high profile sexual assault case Friday exposed several flaws in the investigation, and said some of the young girl's physical and emotional trauma could have been caused by her father rather than the man accused.

And girls who have been sexually abused "usually" act sexually unpredictable or aggressive, said Dr. Anne McKenna.

Dean Edmondson is on trial for sexually assaulting a then-12-year-old girl on a dirt road in September of 2001 with his friends Jeffry Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown.

Their trials are scheduled for next month.

McKenna, a Saskatoon pediatrician who specializes in child sexual abuse, was surprised that none of the girl's statements were videotaped.

"If facilities are available (as they were to Tisdale RCMP), they should be interviewed on tape. Children want to please the interviewer.

"It's easy for the interviewer to ask leading questions" to get a desired answer, and a video record would show how credible the interview actually was, she said.

When the girl was brought to see McKenna in her Saskatoon office a couple of days after the alleged assault, McKenna assumed she was only providing a second opinion.

She thought the Tisdale doctor who first saw the girl had taken photos, done a full pelvic exam, and measured the length of the minor but numerous cuts and bruises on the girl's knees, back and other areas. None of these things were done.

McKenna also acknowledged under cross examination by Edmondson's lawyer, Hugh Harradence, that the Tisdale doctor "could have caused" the tear to a part of the girl's vagina during her initial inspection.

McKenna noted the girl appeared "very dazed" and was likely in "emotional shock" when the girl was in her office. She was so concerned she brought in volunteers from the local sexual assault centre to talk to the girl -- a request McKenna has made only four other times out of the thousands she has seen.

McKenna detailed the numerous minor scrapes and bruises on the girl's body, and said they were quite recent. The marks on her knees suggests she fell or was forced down, she said. She said there were "far too many to be sustained in normal play" but admitted to Harradence that they could all have an innocent explanation.

Harradence asked McKenna if she was aware that a test had found the father's DNA in a semen stain on his daughter's underpants.

McKenna said she'd read that information in the newspaper and also received a fax from the Crown. She said it "doesn't surprise me" because of the other less recent damage to the girl's hymen.

Harradence noted the father was the one who took the girl to see McKenna. McKenna admitted the girl may have been in her altered emotional state because of her potentially abusive father's presence rather than from the alleged assault by Edmondson.

Harradence also noted that McKenna had estimated the girl's age at 14 or 15 years when she testified at the preliminary hearing last year, that she had already begun her period at age 12, and that it was unusual that the girl wore lipstick to her appointment.

Teen cries while describing assault

MELFORT, SK -- A 14-year-old aboriginal girl broke down, crying repeatedly as she testified Thursday about the three men who she says got her drunk and sexually assaulted her.

"I remember waking up . . . I remember waking up to . . . one of the guys kissing me and touching me," the girl said, pausing frequently and covering her face with her hands. "One of the other guys was trying to pull down my pants and I was pulling them back up."

The girl, who was 12 years old at the time of the alleged incident in September 2001, was on the witness stand the entire day. It was the third day of testimony in the trial of Dean Edmondson, 26.

Two other men, Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat, are scheduled to go to trial next month in the alleged incident.

Crown prosecutor Gary Parker asked the girl, who cannot be identified, to recount her version of the event.

Wearing a green nylon hooded shirt and black pants, the girl looked down at the floor for most of her testimony. Only once did she appear to look at Edmondson, and only for a brief moment.

She was soft-spoken, and had to be asked to speak up numerous times.

The girl said she ran away from her home that day because of a fight with her mother, and walked roughly 10 kilometres to the steps of a nearby town's bar.

When three men exited the bar, one said to her, "I thought Pocahontas was a movie," she testified.

Another asked her if she needed a ride and she got in the vehicle.

The girl broke down when she recalled one of the men saying, "Don't worry -- you can trust us."

The man in the back seat with her "kept asking if I wanted a beer and I kept saying no," she said.

Eventually, she said she accepted an open beer and drank it.

She admits telling the men she was not 12 but 14 years old, that her name was Rochelle, and that she was from Saskatoon because "I just wanted to be older."

After drinking more and stopping in another small town bar to buy more beer and snacks, they began to drive again. The girl says she fell asleep in the vehicle, and woke up to find one man kissing her and another trying to take off her jeans.

She said she fell asleep again.

When Parker asked her what happened next, she said she woke up with "those guys doing stuff to me."

Parker repeatedly asked her what that stuff was but she wouldn't elaborate.

Parker stood in the sight line between the girl and Edmondson, and even sat on the table directly in front of her.

She then added that the men were "sexually touching" her lower "private part," but again wouldn't elaborate.

Finally, Parker asked her to write the rest on a piece of paper. The girl wrote "they were using their penus (sic)" to touch her.

Under cross-examination by Edmondson's lawyer, Hugh Harradence, the girl admitted she has seen frequent news reports on the case and has talked to a large number of people about the alleged incident. She's also had dreams about it, she said.

She also admits her memory of the incident is incomplete.

Harradence noted her various statements to police contained inconsistencies, where she mentions certain aspects in one statement but not in others.

The girl admitted she freely accepted the ride before consuming any alcohol and that none of the men forced her to drink.

When all four of them were in the second bar, the girl could have asked staff for help but didn't, Harradence noted.

He also suggested the girl was being coached in her testimony because she described one distance in miles, even though she couldn't say how far a mile was.

"You lied to these boys about your name. You lied to these individuals about your age. You lied to them about where you lived," Harradence said.

"You decided you were going to have a beer. No one forced you to have another beer."

The girl said she couldn't remember how her pants came undone, how she ended up outside the truck, or whether her pants were off when she left the truck. She also can't remember if she saw any of the men's penises.

Harradence then moved on to the alleged sexual abuse the girl has suffered at the hands of her father.

Court heard earlier that the girl's underwear was sent for testing. The semen stain found was not that of the three men but of the girl's father.

The girl admitted her father beat her and her mother, but denied Harradence's assertion that he sexually abused her. This information was allegedly disclosed by the girl's foster mother.

The father was removed from the courtroom at the beginning of Thursday's proceedings, he said in an interview Thursday afternoon. The father denies molesting his daughter, and doesn't believe that his semen was found on her underpants.

He said the defence is simply trying to distract the jury from Edmondson's assault on the girl.

"I can't believe all the things they're saying about me in there," the father said.

"The whole world is going to jump on me for something I didn't do. The truth is going to come out."

The girl is presently in foster care, but said she wants to go home because she misses her family. She phoned her birth parents the night before she testified, although her father says he didn't discuss the case with her.

During the lunch break, the girl came out of the courthouse doors and saw her father across the lawn. She ran to him and they talked for several minutes before a social worker led him away as she cried.

And after Thursday's proceedings were over, the girl and her father talked again among several supporters.

Harradence would not comment on any of the specifics of the case, but said he is raising issues which he feels are relevant.

"I really don't want to argue my case on the front steps of the courthouse," Harradence said in an interview.

"All I can tell you is that I'm asking questions of every witness that I believe are relevant, and I'll continue to do that."

The trial is expected to last another week.

Brown and Kindrat, as well as several other witnesses, are expected to testify in the next couple of days.

'Something awful' happened to girl: MD

MELFORT, SK -- A 12-year-old girl at the centre of a sexual assault trial had minor cuts and bruises on her back, buttocks and inner thighs, smelled of alcohol and was thrashing about hysterically when a Tisdale doctor examined her, court heard Wednesday.

"I was afraid she must have had something awful happen to her," Dr. Linda Somer testified at the sexual assault trial of Dean Trevor Edmondson, 26. Edmondson is one of three men in their mid-20s charged with sexually assaulting the girl in 2001.

"I thought (the cuts and bruises) were relatively new -- from the last 24 hours anyway."

The girl, now 14, was taken to hospital in September of 2001 and examined by Somer.

The next day, Somer met again with the girl, who cannot be identified.

"She was sobered up and was very co-operative," Somer said. However, Somer said under cross-examination there were no marks on the girl's wrists or neck, and no other signs of struggle.

Edmondson's lawyer Hugh Harradence asked if the minor cuts or bruises could have been caused by hospital staff trying to restrain the hysterical and unco-operative girl.

"I don't think anyone was bruising her or scratching her in the process," Somer said.

It's alleged that Edmondson and friends Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat picked up the girl, bought her beer and sexually assaulted her on a gravel road outside Tisdale.

Kindrat and Brown are expected to testify later in Edmondson's trial, as is the girl.

People working at the bars in the villages of Chelan and Mistatim testified that Edmondson and two men bought alcohol on the day the assault is alleged to have occurred but showed no signs of being drunk themselves.

At Mistatim, the girl was with them in the bar, but she, too, showed no signs of intoxication, testified owner Darlene Hill. Hill added that the girl "looked 15 or 16 years old."

Earlier in the day, several RCMP officers testified.

Harradence noted that police were inconsistent by videotaping some statements and not others.

Videotaping statements of minors is "certainly suggested and recommended," said Cpl. Dean Bohlken, although this was not done during most of the girl's statements to police.

Kripa Sekhar, executive co-ordinator of the Saskatchewan Action Committee for the Status of Women, also attended Wednesday's proceedings.

She was critical of the fact nine of 12 jurors are male.

"My concerns are around the jury. It's a very male jury," she said.

Sekhar is not advocating quotas, but wants more questions asked of potential jurors to gauge whether they are gender biased.

© Copyright 2003 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)

Accused admits trying to have sex with 12-year-old

MELFORT -- A Tisdale man admits he and two of his friends bought alcohol for a 12-year-old aboriginal girl, drove her to a secluded gravel road and tried to have sex with her, court heard Tuesday.

The videotaped police interview of Dean Trevor Edmondson -- one of three men in their mid-20s charged with sexually assaulting the girl in 2001 -- was played for the jury during the opening day of Edmondson's trial.

"I did try (to have intercourse with the girl), but I was too drunk," Edmondson said on the tape during the 90-minute session with then-Tisdale RCMP Const. Andrew Shepherd.

"She was saying she loved me and wanted to have sex."

Edmondson is heard several times on the tape asking about his lawyer, but the interview was conducted between Edmondson and Shepherd alone.

After signing the statement, Edmondson leans his head against the wall, then slowly lowers his head onto the table.

Shepherd is scheduled to return to the stand today to be cross-examined by Edmondson's lawyer, Hugh Harradence.

Crown prosecutor Gary Parker gave the jury an outline of the evidence he expects to present during the next couple of weeks.

"The evidence will establish beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of Dean Trevor Edmondson," Parker said.

The girl who cannot be identified had a fight with her mother on Sept. 30, 2001, and walked several miles to the steps of a bar in Chelan, near Tisdale, court heard.

Edmondson said in the videotape he and his friends were playing VLTs and drinking heavily before they saw the girl. They drove her to another bar in nearby Mistatim, where the group drank several more beer each after picking up 18 Labatt's Lite at offsale.

Edmondson said they next drove the car to the approach of a dirt road and that's when the alleged incident occurred.

Edmondson told Shepherd he tried to have sex with the girl, but could not get an erection.

While she lay on top of him on the front of the car's hood, the other two men attempted sex with the girl, Edmondson said on the videotape. He couldn't tell if the others actually had intercourse, because he said he was still kissing her at the time.

They then took the girl to her friend's house and dropped her off.

Parker told the jury her friends took her screaming and holding her genital area to the hospital.

Staff found numerous cuts and bruises on her forehead, back and legs. She remained in hospital for a few more days.

Parker said the girl denies wanting to have sex with the men, and she told them not to have sex with her.

The girl has been placed in foster care.

Two co-accused -- Jeffrey Chad Kindrat and Jeffrey Lorne Brown -- are expected to testify at Edmondson's trial.

Their trial is scheduled for next month.

The alleged incident -- three white men accused of victimizing a young Native girl -- has exposed racial tensions in the area. Questions were raised about the composition of the jury, which appears to be all Caucasian. Nine of 12 are male.

"It is a concern for us," said Bob Hughes, president of the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism.

At the preliminary hearing last year Hughes said the aboriginal girl cannot get justice in Melfort because of the racist attitudes in small-town Saskatchewan. He had predicted the jury would be made almost exclusively of Caucasians.

A surprise revelation came from Parker when discussing semen stains on the girl's underwear. The DNA in the semen was not from any of the three accused, but from the girl's own father.

The father has not been charged, as semen alone is not grounds for prosecution, Parker said.

Also, the Crown is not alleging the three accused ejaculated, so this information does not change the case, he said.

People rally against Sask. acquittals

MELFORT, SK (CP) - Anger and disappointment simmered Wednesday as about 100 people gathered in protest over a not-guilty verdict handed to two white men charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old aboriginal girl.

Jeffrey Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown, both of nearby Tisdale, walked free from the Melfort court house last month after they were acquitted of sexually assaulting the girl Sept. 30, 2001. The men admitted they picked the girl up, gave her beer and then engaged in sexual activity with her. "People ask me why we are holding a vigil," said Kripa Shekar, with the Saskatchewan Action Committee on the Status of Women.

"Because that's the day justice died for us. The day that two men got away. That's the day justice died in this court house," she said to the crowd.

A third man, Dean Edmondson, was found guilty in a separate trial in May. He is appealing.

The men were accused of getting the girl drunk in their truck, then attempting to have sex with her on a secluded country road near Tisdale in central Saskatchewan.

The girl had testified she ran away from home after a fight with her mother and went to a bar in Tisdale where she met the men outside. She later accepted their offer of a ride in their vehicle.

It is the fourth such rally in Saskatchewan. Organizers are also upset there were no aboriginal people on either jury. They are calling for an appeal of Kindrat and Brown's acquittal and changes to sexual assault laws. The Crown has not decided whether to appeal.

The girl testified she told the men she was almost 15. The age of consent is 14.

Lawyers on both sides agreed that the girl's reluctance to testify fully against Kindrat and Brown was the turning point in the case. In Edmondson's trial, the girl gave much more detail about the sexual activity that occurred.

The crowd at the rally, made up of young and old, aboriginal and non-aboriginal and including the girl and her family, joined hands in a circle on the lawn in front of the court house as a drum group played.

Protest signs sprinkled throughout the crowd read "Other way around and justice would have been swift" and "A slap on a wrist for non-First Nations."

More than a dozen speakers expressed outrage with the verdict handed to Kindrat and Brown.

A spokesman for the girl's family said he had urged those who wanted to take matters into their own hands to wait and see if justice would be done.

"Do we turn those young men loose on those guys? Would that be justice?," he said. "I said let us try the system first and see what happens. Because I'll tell you we're mad, we're angry and we're not going to put up with this," he said.

And it isn't just the aboriginal community that is upset with the verdict. Non-aboriginal people rallied in Melfort as well.

Similar rallies have been held in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina. Organizers say there will be at least one more.

Saskatchewan's Justice Department is currently reviewing the jury selection process to see if anything can be done to make juries more racially balanced.