Hilderley offers alternative version of events during sex assault trial

Roger Hilderley testified as the sole witness in his defense during the retired Stratford educator's sexual assault trial stemming from allegations dating back to 2002.

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Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details of sexual assault that may be upsetting for some readers.

Roger Hilderley, the retired Stratford educator accused of a historic sexual assault, testified in his own defense Friday, suggesting he was sexually assaulted by the complainant and that his lifelong impotence would have prevented him from committing the crime he’s accused of.

The 74-year-old former teacher and vice-principal appeared in virtual court to deliver testimony about his relationship with the complainant, whose identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, and the events surrounding the alleged assault said to have occurred in Hilderley’s home on May 1, 2002.

Hilderley told the court that he and the complainant, a former pupil at one of the schools he worked at, had limited interaction after she was no longer a student. Leading up to the events of May 1, Hilderley said he spoke briefly with the complainant on two separate occasions in late 2001 or early 2002.

Hilderley testified he had no communication with the complainant by phone, email or text at any time prior to May 1, 2002. He said she called him on that date to ask him to join her for coffee at her home. Hilderley said he didn’t feel comfortable visiting the complainant, at least partly because of an injured shoulder that he said affected his driving, but ultimately agreed to have her come to his house after he said she insisted. He testified she wanted to show him her most recent academic accomplishments, having returned to school as an adult.

Hilderley testified the complainant brewed and prepared her own coffee while in his kitchen that day before touring Hilderley’s home. Near the end of what Hilderely said was about a 30-minute visit, he said the complainant asked to use the bathroom before leaving.

Hilderley testified he went to check on the complainant upstairs after she didn’t return to the front door, at which point, he said, she appeared naked at the top of the stairs and made sexual advances on the then 57-year-old.

Hilderley said he was in shock and attempted to climb the stairs to take her clothes from where she had changed and throw them outside. He testified he hit his arm on a bannister in the process, causing severe pain in his injured shoulder.

Hilderley testified the complainant then descended the stairs, pulled down his pants, and began performing oral sex on him without his consent. At that point in his testimony, Hilderley noted he has been impotent for most of his life, later clarifying during the Crown’s cross-examination he suffers from erectile dysfunction and has been unable to achieve an erection since he was 20 years old.

Hilderley then testified he was unable to achieve erection during several minutes of fellatio, after which he said the complainant became frustrated, retrieved her clothes, got dressed and left.

“I never thought she was a danger. I thought she would respect the sanctity of our family home and that she would respect my dignity,” Hilderley said during cross-examination by Crown lawyer Elizabeth Wilson.

“I never ever, ever imagined that she would desecrate our sanctity and she would steal my dignity.”

During his testimony, Hidlerley also testified he had been prescribed Temazepam, one of the drugs found in the complainant’s blood and urine samples provided after the alleged assault in 2002. Hilderley said he obtained a prescription for the tranquilizer prior to a family trip to Europe in 1999 to help him sleep on the plane.

Though he said he did not take any of the drugs he was prescribed, Hilderley told the court he didn’t know what happened to them afterward and it was possible he left the medication in Europe.

In cross-examining Hilderley, Wilson focused in on his erectile dysfunction, ultimately suggesting there are – and were – a number of drugs available that could remedy Hilderley’s problem and that it’s possible he had been able to achieve an erection at different points in his life, all of which Hilderley adamantly denied.

Wilson also called Hilderley’s recollection of the events on May 1, 2002, a fabrication.

“Sir, I’m going to suggest to you that (your) version of events beginning with (the complainant) coming out naked … is a fabrication,” Wilson said. “Sir, I suggest to you that (your) explanation is something that you concocted. Would you agree or disagree with that?”

“I disagree completely,” Hilderley replied.

Following the conclusion of Hilderley testimony  – delayed several times Friday because of internet-connection issues – the trial judge, Justice Kathryn McKerlie, adjourned the proceedings to Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. to allow both defence and Crown counsel ample time to make their submissions and closing arguments.

Stratford police originally charged Hilderley on July 19, 2019, with sexual assault and overcoming resistance to commit an indictable offence.

Hilderley has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

At the time charges were laid, a Stratford police spokesperson said a lawyer called the department in early 2019 about a sexual-assault complaint from 2002. Police reviewed that complaint from January through July, and said Hilderley came to police headquarters and turned himself in after being told of his impending arrest. Police later released him on a promise to appear in court.