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2nd Vanderzwaag complainant says alleged assault left him with feelings of shame, guilt

John (Jan) Vanderzwaag arrives at court on Tuesday for the first day of the trial. The identities of the complainants are protected by a publication ban. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
John (Jan) Vanderzwaag arrives at court on Tuesday for the first day of the trial. The identities of the complainants are protected by a publication ban. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

The two men who have accused John (Jan) Vanderzwaag of sexually assaulting them two decades ago both testified at his judge and jury trial in Charlottetown Friday.

The younger of the two complainants, whose identities are protected by a publication ban, began to tell his story Thursday. In cross-examination Friday, Vanderzwaag's lawyer Brian Ross asked him if he planned to pursue a civil suit against his client, seeking damages.

The man said no; all he wanted was justice at this trial.

Ross also asked whether the complainant had encouraged the other man to go to police and file a sexual assault allegation against Vanderzwaag.

The witness said he couldn't see any reason why he shouldn't have done that.

The second complainant was in his 20s at the time of the alleged assault, at Vanderzwaag's home the night of a sleepover involving young people who attended the Charlottetown Christian Reformed Church. Vanderzwaag was a church youth group helper at the time.

In his testimony Friday, he described waking up to find Vanderzwaag sexually assaulting him.

Men are not usually victims. — Complainant in sexual assault trial

He said he was petrified and confused. He considered Vanderzwaag a close friend but said there had never been anything sexual between them.

The man said the night in question was a humiliating and traumatic experience for him, leaving him with feelings of shame and guilt.

Nor was it easy for him to come forward, he said, adding: "Men are not usually victims."

The complainant told the court he took it upon himself to go to police, though he made and broke several appointments before he was able to actually go and give his statement.

The man said it sank in that filing a complaint with police was the right thing to do when he learned the other alleged victim was thinking about suicide.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Monday.