Updated: Trial underway for suspended Kentville paramedic accused of sexual assault in Hants County

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on September 29, 2014

James Duncan Keats, 48, was in provincial court Sept. 29 for the start of a two-day trial focusing on alleged sexual assaults.

©Ashley Thompson

Editor's note: Some readers might find details of testimony in this article disturbing. 

The first trial for a suspended paramedic accused of sexually assaulting six female patients, including one East Hants woman, is underway in Windsor.

James Duncan Keats, 48, was in provincial court Sept. 29 for the start of a two-day trial focusing on alleged sexual assaults involving a Mount Uniacke woman. The trial will resume Friday, Oct. 3.

The Kentville man is accused of sexually assaulting the woman on two occasions: once in the back of an ambulance in September 2012 and while responding to a call for assistance in her home in May 2013.

Crown attorney Bill Fergusson called the complainant to the stand as the first witness to provide testimony in the case.

The 72-year-old complainant testified that both she and her husband have a number of medical issues.

She told the court the local fire department and paramedics visited their home in May 2013 after her husband fell and needed assistance. She testified that Keats and a younger paramedic responded to the call.

She said she stepped outside of the kitchen while the younger paramedic assisted her husband to give them more room. She testified Keats accompanied her upstairs to her bedroom to check her heart.

“He asked me to lay down on the bed so he could check my heart,” she told the court.

She said she was wearing a housedress that had a zipper, and wearing panties underneath the dress.

The complainant said Keats initially sat on a chair beside the bed and then told her he’d have to unzip the dress to check for abdominal bleeding.

She said Keats informed her he would have to move her breasts to check her heart with the stethoscope, and then said he should check lower.

She said Keats pressed on her stomach and then pulled her underpants down to her ankles to check for bleeding and then started to perform a sexual act on her.

“I said, ‘No, it’s not going to happen,’” she testified.

From there, the complainant testified that Keats swung her legs to the side of the bed and removed her underwear.

“He was telling me how wonderful I would feel and how he would help me,” she said.

She said she once again told Keats no, but he started performing oral sex. She told him he would hurt her, but Keats initiated sexual intercourse anyway.

She said Keats heard the other paramedic coming up the stairs, but he told his partner to go pack up the truck.

The complainant said her assailant kissed her hand before he left and said, “You’re a beautiful lady.” She said she asked him for his name, and he told her James.

The Crown attorney asked the complainant if the paramedic she was talking about was in the courtroom.

She peered into the gallery, but said her eyesight isn’t well. Judge Claudine MacDonald granted the witness permission to leave the stand and get a closer look.

She stopped a few feet away from Keats, who was sitting at the side of the courtroom. She said he was built like the man and had the same colour eyes, but his hair has grown out a bit.

The woman, who reported the alleged sexual assault in hopes of preventing something similar from happening to another patient, also testified that Keats undressed her and fondled her in an ambulance on one previous occasion.

Court adjourned for lunch following Fergusson’s questioning of the complainant.

Defence lawyer Chrystal MacAuley cross-examined the complainant for nearly three hours following the break.

At one point in her testimony, the complainant said she did not recognize Keats from her first encounter with him in the ambulance because of the way he had his facial hair.

MacAuley asked the complainant to explain the sequence of events during the alleged sexual assault in detail several times.

The complainant obliged, at one point alleging she tried to push Keats away but she “couldn’t physically move him, he’s too big.” She later testified that she was too scared to yell for help when she thought the other paramedic was coming up the stairs.

“I thought they were both going to rape me.”

The woman testified that she now suffers from post-traumatic stress.

“If you’ve ever been assaulted, it doesn’t leave you.”

MacAuley will continue her cross-examination of the witness on Oct. 3 in Windsor provincial court.