Native girl in tears at sex assault trial

'Medicine man' faces 20 sex-related charges

The Edmonton Journal/March 17, 2004
By Charles Rusnell

Wetaskiwin -- Eyes downcast, weeping softly and clutching a sacred eagle feather in her hands, a teenage girl told a provincial court Tuesday how a self-described "medicine man" sexually assaulted her.

"He said he gets sexually aroused when he is working with girls," the girl said in a barely audible voice.

Forty-three-year-old Harold Mearon did not look at the girl as she testified before a courtroom packed with the relatives of 14 women, aged 13 to 31, he is alleged to have sexually assaulted while treating them as a native healer. None of the women can be identified.

Mearon faces more than 20 sex-related charges for assaults alleged to have occurred between the summer of 2000 and the spring of 2002.

Consent is not an issue in the case because Mearon contends none of the incidents described by the women in sworn statements to police occurred.

The girl said she had been introduced to "Lucky" Mearon by her father, who took her to meet the medicine man. Mearon was not from the Hobbema area but had moved there from northern Alberta. She got into Mearon's truck and the two drove the back roads of the reserve. He began asking intimate questions, including whether she was sexually active.

They stopped at a deserted farmyard. After running his hands over her face, back and chest, Mearon said he was going to put some medicine inside her, she said. He took out a pill bottle filled with a powder, put some on his fingers, pulled down her pants and inserted his fingers into her.

"He said he was helping me," the girl said, choking back sobs.

"I was crying and he stopped and I said I wanted to go home. He pulled my pants back up."

She said when they arrived at her mother's home, he told her not to tell anyone about what happened.

During his cross-examination of the girl, defence lawyer Bill Tatarchuk gently suggested that her father had wanted Mearon to warn the girl, who was 13 and in Grade 8 at the time, about the dangers of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. She disagreed with this suggestion. Tatarchuk wondered why she hadn't told anyone about the alleged incident.

"I am going to suggest to you that the incident you described with Lucky did not happen," Tatarchuk said.

"What are you implying?" the girl replied angrily.

"Are you implying I am lying?"

Tatarchuk did not answer but asked, "Can you tell us who brainwashed you?" After an objection from the prosecutor Tatarchuk continued, "Who told you to say this stuff?"

Staring angrily at Tatarchuk, the girl said, "Nobody."

A second witness said she met Mearon through an uncle at a funeral. "He said he could not help but notice me. He said I looked like an injured bird."

She said he would later tell her he was a medicine man, a healer who had learned of his powers to heal people spiritually and physically when he was still a child. He promised he could make her some medicine that would make her mind strong and he could help answer questions about her life and her family.

During one encounter when she was alone with him in his truck, she said he told her he knew something horrible had happened to her when she was a child and that it was bothering her father.

"I told him I knew what was bothering my father," she said. "I told him that I was molested by my father when I was four."

Mearon, she said, insisted on immediately beginning the healing process.

She recalled how Mearon had reclined her seat and started running his hands over her body. When he placed his hands over her womb, she said he suddenly gasped loudly and exclaimed," 'Oh my God, you poor girl. You poor, poor girl. You are so torn up inside.'

"All I could think of was that he knew -- he knew what had happened to me when I was a little girl."

The woman said she tried to sit up but he told her to lay back and then put his hand down her pants. She said he told her, "Don't be afraid of me. We were meant to meet. We were meant to be together."

Mearon tried to crawl on top of her, she said, but she kept pushing him away. Finally, he took her home.

During cross-examination, Tatarchuk pointed out several inconsistencies between statements made by the woman to police, in a preliminary hearing and during her testimony Tuesday.

The trial continues today.

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