Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Someone is being tortured'

Guilty pleas entered in attack on woman

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WARNING: Story includes graphic details.

 

A Winnipeg gang associate has pleaded guilty to a horrific attack on a young woman at a West End apartment -- a harrowing case justice officials say is fairly described as one in which the victim was held against her will and tortured.

Jordan Cooper, 23, pleaded guilty this week to several charges on the day his provincial court preliminary hearing was set to begin. They include assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats. Details of the case have never been made public.

Cooper was one of two men Winnipeg police

arrested as they arrived at a McGee Street suite on March 16, 2013.

Officers had traced several mysterious 911 calls made from a cellphone at that location.

An anonymous caller had said "someone is being hurt, someone is being tortured," Crown attorney Libby Standil told court at a prior bail hearing. There was no publication ban on evidence at the hearing.

Police found a 19-year-old woman badly beaten.

She ultimately described being attacked and placed in a bathtub where she had her ponytail hacked off and was threatened with death because her attackers thought she was linked to a rival gang.

"They threatened to slit her throat... urinated on her in the tub, spit on her, poured beer on her and turned the water on," Standil said. "They threatened to gang-rape her and then throw her in a Dumpster, and they kept telling her they were going to keep her as a slave," Standil said.

She was whipped with her own hair after it was cut off, the woman said. Her attackers then had her brush her hair out with a fork because they were going to use it as a "trophy," Standil said. "They said they wanted to put the hair up on the wall."

Photos presented to the court showed the victim suffered extreme bruising to her face, neck and spine. Her left eye was swollen shut.

Police came to be called to the suite after another woman who was also there asked to use the bathroom and was escorted in on the condition she keep her eyes shut, court heard. She peeked and saw the victim in the tub "looking as though she'd been tortured," Standil said. "She advised that the girl whispered to her: 'Help,' " the prosecutor added.

After leaving the bathroom, the witness secretly called 911 from beneath a blanket and police were able to trace the phone's signal.

Cooper initially told investigators he'd "saved" a girl from being assaulted. The woman's ponytail was found in his pocket, court heard.

Standil noted the Manitoba Warriors associate appeared to have a "casual attitude" about the allegations. "No remorse," she said.

A judge initially granted Cooper bail but the Crown took the rare step of having it revoked in a higher court, given the seriousness of the case. Cooper has been in custody since last May. A sentencing hearing is pending on May 1.

"He takes the position he did not act alone," defence lawyer Phillippe Richer said.

A co-accused was committed this week to stand trial in the Court of Queen's Bench.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2014 A9

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