Warning: This story contains content that some readers may find disturbing.
The defence lawyer for a Regina man convicted of sexual assault causing bodily harm argued in court Monday that the man’s lack of remorse shouldn’t factor into his sentence.
Minutes later, Gioulian Nikdima, 50, stood up in Court of Queen’s Bench and made it clear to Justice Fred Kovach that, despite his conviction, he takes no responsibility for forcing anal sex on a 49-year-old woman, inflicting injury.
A nurse who specializes in rape exams testified the woman suffered one of the worst anal injuries she had ever seen.
“My only mistake in this case was meeting that woman,” Nikdima told the court. “She could leave any time she want … I know women.”
1st date turned horrific, woman says
The woman said what started as a first date with a “perfect gentleman” in March 2016 turned into a horrific sexual assault after Nikdima drove her outside the city. The two met through the online dating site Plenty of Fish.
Defence lawyer Nicolas Brown asked for a three-year prison sentence and said the judge should consider the fact that Nikdima didn’t use any weapons or threats.
He argued the assault wasn’t premeditated, but rather an escalation of consensual sexual activity, which led the accused to take it “too far.” He asked the judge to disregard Nikdima’s lack of remorse.
“It’s not uncommon for people who are accused and convicted of sexual assault to maintain that position,” Brown said.
Regina prosecutor Randene Zielke asked that Nikdima serve a five-year prison sentence and be added to the sexual offender registry.
Zielke argued a three-year prison sentence is the starting point for sexual assaults in Saskatchewan, and one involving significant injury, as sustained by this woman, would warrant a much higher sentence.
Both the defence and Crown agreed Nikdima will almost certainly be deported to Greece after serving time, as required by the Immigration Act. Nikdima is a permanent resident who immigrated from Greece six years ago.
Pain similar to being stabbed
The prosecutor emphasized that Nikdima preyed upon the woman’s vulnerability after driving her outside the city.
When Kovach convicted Nikdima in September, he said he wasn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that all sexual activities in the vehicle that day were non-consensual. He specified Nikdima committed sexual assault causing bodily harm at the point that Nikdima penetrated the woman anally without communicated consent, and then disregarded her screams of pain.
In sentencing submissions, Zielke spoke at length about the violence of forced sodomy.
“[The victim] described the pain as being the worst she had ever felt, as though she’s being stabbed,” Zielke said.
“Sexual assault is a crime of violence. It is an inherently violent act. It violates the safety, privacy and sanctity of one’s body. Forced sexual intercourse is amongst the most serious imaginable acts of personal violence.”
When Zielke described the severity of the woman’s anal injury, Kovach suggested someone could sustain that kind of injury through consensual sex as well. He also questioned any sentencing arguments that suggested Nikdima had lured the woman outside the city in a “nefarious” scheme.
The woman submitted a victim impact statement, read by the Crown, that described how that date changed her and her life.
Before March 2016, she said, she had a great life with a career, friends, family and activities she enjoyed.
“I thought the only thing missing was someone to share my life with,” the woman said.
“What I can’t get past is how [Nikdima] was a perfect gentleman and in a blink of an eye, he was unrecognizable. I didn’t expect that a first kiss would result in years of pain and suffering.”
The woman said she didn’t know why she didn’t fight that day, and it still haunts her. After the assault, she said, “I didn’t want to be in my skin.”
Victim still suffers anxiety attacks
The victim said she reported the sexual assault to prove to her adult daughter that she was “still the strong woman who had raised her.”
As CBC News reported during the trial, the woman used a Google image search to track down her rapist, who had used a fake name online, and reported him to police.
The woman has seen a therapist or life coach every week since the assault more than three and a half years ago.
She says she still suffers anxiety attacks in public places.
“The fear and terror of that day are never far away,” the woman said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18.