Ex-Woodstock mayor's sex assault trial wraps up, verdict expected in August

Former Woodstock mayor Trevor Birtch leaves court on Thursday. Lawyers in the sexual assault case of Birtch, 49, presented closing arguments and the Ontario Superior Court judge who's overseeing the trial is expected to reach a verdict by end of summer. (Kate Dubinski/CBC - image credit)
Former Woodstock mayor Trevor Birtch leaves court on Thursday. Lawyers in the sexual assault case of Birtch, 49, presented closing arguments and the Ontario Superior Court judge who's overseeing the trial is expected to reach a verdict by end of summer. (Kate Dubinski/CBC - image credit)

Warning: This story contains graphic details of alleged sexual assaults.

The sexual assault trial of Woodstock's former mayor wrapped up on Thursday with closing arguments, and the Ontario Superior Court judge in London indicating he would have liked more evidence to help him come to a verdict.

"I have an absence-of-evidence issue," said Justice Michael Carnegie.

Carnegie will go over the evidence he did hear during Trevor Birtch's four-day trial and deliver his verdict near the end of the summer.

Birtch, 49, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault. He was charged in 2022.

Court heard testimony from the woman who was in a tumultuous relationship with Birtch in 2020 and 2021 while he was mayor. Her name is protected under a publication ban.

"We have to look at the evidence in totality," said Crown lawyer Artem Orlov during his closing submissions. "[The woman] was reasonable and balanced in her testimony.... Her version of events makes more sense."

History of alleged incidents

The charges stem from three incidents:

  • An alleged sexual assault on Feb. 14, 2021, when the couple went to the Idlewyld Inn and Spa in London.

  • An alleged assault when the woman said Birtch pushed her out of his car on a country road after she refused to perform oral sex on him.

  • An alleged sexual assault in December 2021 at a home where Birtch was living.

During his testimony, Birtch characterized the woman as clingy and irrational, and said she refused to let him break up with him.

She testified he had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality as he would turn nasty at the drop of a hat.

In his closing arguments, defence lawyer James Battin told the judge there's no evidence Birtch ever physically assaulted the woman and the Crown has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The verdict is expected on Aug. 8.

For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.