Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-gang member guilty of five charges in rape of 17-year-old girl

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A one-time gang member with a criminal record is going back to prison after a jury found him guilty of the brutal rape of a 17-year-old girl in September 2011.

Richard Rondeau, 28, displayed no emotion when the jury foreman read the verdict late Wednesday afternoon declaring Rondeau guilty of all five charges: sexual assault, forcible confinement, choking, uttering threats and assault.

Rondeau will be sentenced later this year after a pre-sentence report is prepared.

The jury spent only Wednesday afternoon weighing the evidence after six days of testimony.

Rondeau admitted he had sex with the young girl but claimed it was consensual. He claimed the girl fabricated the attack, fearing reprisal from her boyfriend, a friend of Rondeau's described as a violent member of the Native Syndicate gang still behind bars.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Chaput said the defence claim made no sense, arguing if the girl wanted to keep an affair quiet, she could simply remain silent. Chaput reminded the jury Rondeau repeatedly lied to police when they questioned him after his arrest, first denying he had sex with the girl, then saying it was consensual.

The jury's deliberations Wednesday were delayed when one juror failed to arrive by 9:20 a.m. for the 10 a.m. session. By 10:20 a.m., the young woman, identified only as juror No. 10, hadn't appeared, so Justice Gerald Chartier discharged her, issued a warrant for her arrest and continued with the trial.

She arrived at court much later, was taken into custody and spent the afternoon in jail.

Chartier had the woman brought to court after the jury brought in its verdict. She was marched through the courtroom wearing handcuffs, her feet in shackles, and placed in the prisoner's box.

The woman immediately apologized to the court and the other jurors, explaining she was up all the previous night with a fever, severe cramps and vomiting, and she slept late into the morning.

When Chartier reminded her she had been late several times last week, she explained she had to take Winnipeg Transit to the courthouse, and when she missed a bus, there was a long wait for another one.

Chartier said he could have found her in contempt of court, sent her to jail and imposed a fine, but he accepted her explanation.

However, Chartier said the woman had to take greater responsibility for her actions.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2013 A10

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