(CMR) DJ and radio personality Renato Renaldo Harris spent Thursday on the stand in Grand Court, denying allegations that he raped a 24-year-old Canadian woman in 2018. The woman became pregnant as a result of the encounter and eventually sought an abortion overseas.
Details of the July 14 alleged assault were revealed over the past week before Justice Carter. Harris and the victim were only casually known to each other before having the run-in on that fateful night at Obar on West Bay Road. The woman opted to fly in from Canada to give live testimony instead of using the Zoom link option that was available to her.
She told the court that the pair met up that night at the bar, and she had been intoxicated. Harris first took her to Burger Shack for food and then took her to the house he shares with his father in Swamp, where the assault is alleged to have taken place in the early morning hours. The victim shared that she was intoxicated and essentially passed out but certainly did not consent to have sexual intercourse with him.
The following morning, she further alleged that he held her down on his bed and assaulted her a second time despite her screaming, crying, and protesting for him not to assault her again. This time he told the court that he ejaculated in his hands since her only concern was over becoming pregnant the night before. She testified that after the second assault, he told her:
“Baby, your p**** feels so good”
She testified that she was distraught and faced the wall crying before asking to be taken to the pharmacy. She described a harrowing bedroom room and filthy house that included filthy sheets, no bathroom toilet paper, and a filthy toilet seat stained with urine.
Harris could not recall if she was wearing a bra or panty or precisely how the interaction occurred but said he “pulled her dress over her head” and that she was into him and was undressing him as well. When asked about her state of mind afterward, he said she was not upset or hysterical but was “concerned about getting pregnant in school” and questioned him about what she did the night before.
As a result of the incident, he took her to Health Care Pharmacy to get a morning-after Plan B pill which he paid for before dropping her back at her residence. Despite that, in early August, she discovered that she was pregnant and texted him about it, to which he replied, “WTF”. She also informed Harris via WhatsApp messages that “I hope that you never bring this much pain to another woman.” She proceeded to also tell him that she was not sure if she would be keeping the child or not, but he would never have any contact with her or the child ever.
The defendant shared that there were missing parts of the WhatsApp messages but the prosecution put to him that was a lie and why did his defense attorney not bring that up beforehand and why it was not mentioned during his police interview.
She eventually got her parents to send her an airplane ticket and she returned home to abort the child. The court also heard that as a result of the incident, she was unable to complete her academic studies, including an exam that was scheduled for the week after the alleged assault. WhatsApp messages between the pair showed her telling him, “if you see me again, don't even breathe in my direction.”
“I'm sorry we were both drinking – why are you making me feel this way”
Prosecution said Harris was gaslighting the victim and trying to make her feel guilty
The Crown also relied on testimony from investigating police officers and a doctor to whom the victim initially confessed what happened to her.
When Harris took the stand, he attempted to explain inconsistencies in his statement to the police and his testimony on the stand. He explained that he was in a state of shock after being arrested at his house in the early morning hours and behind held at the detention center for at least 5 hours before he was interviewed by police.
He claimed that he forgot to mention that his father was at home with his son that night and that he had taken her to Burger King in the morning for food. Despite telling police that he was not drinking because he had just gotten his license back after having it suspended for 5 years, the prosecutor showed text messages where he admitted that they had both been drinking. He claimed on the night he took her home, she was not intoxicated at all and was into him and they engaged in prolonged kissing before even getting to his residence.
The prosecution questioned why he could not recall that his father was at home, a question they suggest was a very easy one for him, especially since he has done two previous police interviews not related to this matter in 2015 and 2016, respectively. He also did not recall the story of ejaculating in his hands during the second encounter and that she has asked him for money.
The prosecution put to him that these things were being made up conveniently after the fact to try and explain what he had done.
He also testified that she was wanting money from him for the abortion and a ticket to return home. However, the prosecution put to him that was a lie because her parents flew her out, and abortions in Canada are free. He said he did not know that.
When asked why a woman he barely knew that was 12 years younger than him would consent to have unprotected sex, he shared that about 90% of the women he sleeps with do not inquire about protection and are not concerned with STIs. He confirmed that he was “a bit of a celebrity” as he's known as a local radio personality and DJ.
The alleged victim has dropped out of school and abandoned “a professional career” and has now become a victim's advocate for women who have been raped. She assists them with preparing for trial.
The trial will continue next week with closing arguments from both the defense and prosecution. Richard Barton and Keith Myles are the defense attorneys for Harris.