Ex-Woodstock, Ont., mayor's behaviour 'like Jekyll and Hyde,' woman tells his sexual assault trial

Former Woodstock mayor Trevor Birtch leaving court in downtown London, Ont., on Monday.  (Kendra Seguin/CBC - image credit)
Former Woodstock mayor Trevor Birtch leaving court in downtown London, Ont., on Monday. (Kendra Seguin/CBC - image credit)

Warning: This story contains graphic details of alleged sexual assaults.

The sexual assault trial of former Woodstock, Ont., mayor Trevor Birtch began Monday with testimony from a woman who said his behaviour suddenly turned from friendly and compassionate to angry and hostile on two occasions after she declined his request to perform oral sex on him.

"He would just turn suddenly — it was like Jekyll and Hyde," said the woman, at times crying while testifying.

The trial, overseen by Superior Court Justice Michael Carnegie, is in London and scheduled to run for four days. There's a publication ban protecting the identity of the woman.

Earlier in the day, Birtch, 48, entered not guilty pleas to two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault stemming from allegations made between Feb. 14 and Dec. 13, 2021. He was charged in February 2022 and stepped down from his second term as mayor several months later.

The woman told the court that she and Birtch began an intimate relationship in spring 2020. They first met at a community function in 2019, after which Birtch messaged her on Facebook. She said he would meet at her apartment and sometimes they would have picnics in public places, due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time.

Oluwatobi Boyede was found guilty of sexual assault against a London woman.
Oluwatobi Boyede was found guilty of sexual assault against a London woman.

The trial for Birtch is being overseen by Superior Court Justice Michael Carnegie in London. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

The woman said Birtch could be a loving partner but she also described two occasions in which his behaviour suddenly turned hostile, after she refused his request to provide him with oral sex.

She told the court the first incident happened on Valentines Day in 2021 during what was supposed to be a romantic stay at the Idlewyld Inn & Spa in London.

The woman said Birtch picked her up in Woodstock and then they drove to London. She noticed he'd been drinking but he insisted he was OK to drive. However, at one point, she said, he crossed the median during the drive to London.

"He probably should not have been driving," the woman said during testimony given by video feed from another room.

The woman said she took a bath in the hotel suite, where she was joined briefly by Birtch. Afterward, she got into bed with him.

"I thought we were going to snuggle and watch a movie and that we weren't going to do anything right away. It wasn't supposed to be what it ended up being," she said.

She told the court Birtch began to push her head down toward his pelvis.

"I didn't want to rush right into that," she said. "I tried to explain that. He just kept trying to move my head toward his penis."

She said Birtch became angry.

"He said, 'What good are you then? I shouldn't have brought you here.'"

She told the court Birtch pulled her out of bed by her hair and threw her against a door. She said she tried sleeping on the bathroom floor and then Birtch came in and opened the door hard enough to hit her.

She testified that the next day, Birtch dropped her off at her home in the Woodstock area and told her he should have brought someone else. He then didn't contact her for three days. When he did call, he asked if she was ready to be "a good girl" and do what he wanted.

Woman describes being left on country road

The woman described an incident later the same year in which the pair were driving around Oxford County and stopped in an empty church parking lot on a country road.

She said Birtch again became angry when she refused to perform oral sex on him in the car.

"He grabbed me by back of head and started pushing me with both hands toward his penis and saying I knew what to do," she testified.

When she returned from the car after using the bathroom, she said, Birtch threw her belongings out the window and drove away, leaving her alone on the country road close to midnight.

"I didn't know where I was," she testified. "I started walking down the road hoping I would get somewhere."

She said Birtch eventually did drive back to pick her up, but made her sit in the back seat.

On the drive home, she said, Birtch stopped the car and allowed her to get into the front seat.

When he stopped to drop her off at her residence, the woman said, Birtch asked her to exit the car. She refused, wanting to speak to him more about the incidents and where the relationship was going.

"A huge part of me wanted to understand what was going on," she told the court. "I deserved that conversation. I deserved to know why this was happening and where the aggression was coming from, especially from someone who said they loved me."

Images of bruises presented as court exhibits

The woman said Birtch reacted by coming around to her side of the vehicle, pulled her out of the car and onto the gravel.

She later took photos of the bruises, images that were presented as exhibits in court. They showed bruises on her elbow, shoulder, knee and elbows.

The woman said they reconciled five days later, but there was a third incident that happened when she visited Birtch at a house where he was staying with a friend.

She told the court she began to perform oral sex on Birtch in his bedroom but he held her against him with his hands behind her head and his knees behind her back, causing her to choke.

She said she couldn't breathe and bit him, ending the encounter. She stayed at the house until 5 a.m.

The woman testified the police became involved because after there had been multiple incidents of her vehicle being vandalized. Police recommended she stay with a friend for a while. She said the friend called police after Birtch showed up at her house.

"If Trevor hadn't showed up at [my friend's] house, we probably wouldn't be here today," she said.

Birtch has faced other legal troubles in recent years, including being charged last year with impaired driving and facing other allegations of sexual assault dating back to 2017. Those allegations have not been proven in court.

The trial by judge alone is scheduled to take four days.

For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.