‘I was scared’: Testimony begins in trial of Calgary bar manager accused of sexual abuse

‘I was scared’: Testimony begins in trial of Calgary bar manager accused of sexual abuse
‘I was scared’: Testimony begins in trial of Calgary bar manager accused of sexual abuse

(Warning: The following story contains descriptions of sexual abuse…)

A young woman testified Monday in the trial of her former boss, who is accused of sexually assaulting her in December 2022.

The woman was 18 at the time of the alleged attack and cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban.

CTV News calls her Anne.

Grant Lee Cichacki, 43, was charged in October 2023.

He is due to appear in court again next spring, accused of sexually abusing six other women.

Anne told the court that on December 27, 2022, she had finished her shift at Watchman’s Pub on 17th Avenue SW, when she, her former manager Cichacki and one of his friends decided to go to Cowboys Dance Hall.

She said she was given a drink and walked to the dance floor, but that afterward she lost most of her memory.

“There are black spots, then there are little bits and then it turns black,” she said.

She said she vaguely remembers being at another venue, Boudoir Rouge, but the next thing she remembers from that night is waking up in Cichacki’s bed.

“I woke up in his bed, with him on top of me and him having sex with me,” she said.

“I didn’t try to do anything. I just lay there. And I got out again.”

She said she remembered being placed in different positions as she lost consciousness.

Anne said she was sick and vomited a lot the following days.

She said she was also removed from her work schedule and lost her job shortly after.

When asked why she didn’t tell anyone right away, Anne replied, “I was scared.”

“I just pretended nothing happened and tried to make it go away,” she said.

A few days later, she went to the Sheldon M. Chumir Center, where a sexual abuse evidence kit was used.

The court heard that DNA taken from cotton swabs and her underwear matched that of the suspect.

Anne told CTV News it was incredibly emotional to share what she had been through.

“A lot of emotions. A lot of tears when I walked out. A lot of anger when I was in the courtroom itself. A lot of feelings that came up,” she said.

“It’s been two years now. … It had been out of my mind for a long time and then, you know, when I had to come here to see him and everything, it was just a lot.”

The defense argued that Anne not only consented to sex with Cichacki, but that she also initiated intimacy.

“It’s his job to ask those questions,” she said.

“I know that none of this was my fault. And there was no interest in him at all. There was nothing, nothing for me to want him or want any of that to happen.

“It was absolutely not consensual. I was severely abused, which sucks. I don’t know a better word for it right now.”

Cichacki defended himself, stating that Anne had asked to spend the night with him.

“She said she wanted to come in and cuddle,” he said.

When asked by the Crown if he was surprised that an 18-year-old would want to sleep with a 42-year-old man, Cichacki replied: “She’s a beautiful, young adult. I didn’t ask her to do it.”

Cichacki said Anne had given verbal consent to sex twice and that she would not use a condom.

He said she didn’t seem very drunk all night and that he hadn’t noticed how much alcohol she had consumed.

“A lot of people come to my house and pour themselves a drink. I don’t pay any attention to it. They’re adults,” he said.

Cichacki also said that Anne did not show up for her next shift and that he was not involved in cutting her work schedule.

He said the case and the media attention caused him to quit his job as co-owner at several establishments in the city, including Watchman’s Pub, Courtyard, Nixx Neighborhood Pub and Loco Lou’s.

He is no longer listed as owner in the trade registers of these locations.

After the initial complaint, six other women came forward, accusing Cichacki of sexual abuse between 2006 and 2022.

“A lot of them have said that it’s because of me that they finally feel good again, which means a lot to me that I’ve been able to help these girls. It’s clearly not a good situation and I wish I didn’t have all this,” Anne said.

“But this is what we’re all dealing with. So, the fact that, you know, my vote alone has made them feel better and, you know, they got this other lawsuit and everything, that’s a really nice feeling.”

She said she is still recovering from what happened to her and is hoping for justice.

“This has been going on for two years now. And in that time it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster. I’ve had weeks – months – where I was just scared of everything and I couldn’t leave my bedroom and, you know, I had no job for a long time because they let me go,” she said.

“So I had no money, no job, no friends. I was basically isolated, and my family was there for me. More than words can describe, they’ve been amazing to me.”

In Canada, there is no time limit for reporting sexual abuse.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of sexual abuse is encouraged to report it, even if the incident occurred many years ago.

Support is available for victims of sexual violence, including Alberta’s One-Line for Sexual Violence: 1-866-403-8000 and a 24-hour crisis line: 1-877-237-5888.