'She's lying': Edmonton bar promoter maintains innocence in face of 13 sex assault charges


A bar promoter accused of sexually assaulting 13 women told court Monday that the complainants are mistaken or lying about the alleged assaults. 

A lengthy jury trial in Edmonton's Court of Queen's Bench is underway for Matthew McKnight, 32, who faces 12 counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm.

He has pleaded not guilty to all offences against the women who were aged 17 to 22 when the alleged assaults took place between 2010 and 2016. 

McKnight was on the witness stand all day Monday, as Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga continued a cross-examination that began last week.

The prosecutor challenged the bar promoter's "fantastically detailed" narratives of specific interactions with the complainants in light of McKnight's claim he had up to 300 sexual encounters during that period.

McKnight was employed by Urban Sparq at the time, a hospitality company that owns several bars in Edmonton and other cities. Court heard he met many of the women through his work as a promoter.

Huyser-Wierenga likened McKnight's "bad luck"—being accused of sexual offences by 13 women—to being struck by lightning 13 times. McKnight replied that the media attention generated by police press releases about the allegations was like a lightning rod.

"Five women came forward before any media release," Huyser-Wierenga countered.

"They're mistaken," McKnight replied. 

After McKnight was initially charged in August 2016 more than a dozen additional complainants came forward. Earlier in the trial, court heard testimony from 12 of the 13 complainants. Two of the young women sat in the courtroom gallery with supporters Monday, listening to McKnight's testimony during which he maintained that all of the encounters were consensual.

"She's mistaken?" Huyser-Wierenga asked after putting one woman's account of what happened to McKnight.

"No, she's lying," McKnight responded. 

When McKnight first took the stand last month and was questioned by his own lawyer, he denied drugging any of the women. 

Six of the witnesses called by the Crown prosecutors in the first eight weeks of the trial testified they suspected that McKnight had drugged them with GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.

During his opening statement, Huyser-Wierenga told the jury aid all but one of the allegations involved vaginal-penile intercourse in McKnight's condo near Knoxville's Tavern on Jasper Avenue and 107th Street — the now-shuttered bar where McKnight once worked.

The prosecution's cross-examination of McKnight will continue Tuesday. The trial, which got underway in October, is scheduled to run for 10 weeks.