Firefighter, martial arts instructor back on stand at sexual assault trial

By | June 2, 2020

WINNIPEG — WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers.

Winnipeg firefighter and martial arts instructor Manuel Ruiz continued testifying in his trial Tuesday morning, telling the court he first met one of two complainants in the case in 1998 before what he described as a dating relationship came to an end in May 2002.

He told Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey the relationship ended after the woman mentioned marriage during a restaurant dinner about a week before a separate incident at a bed and breakfast she worked at.

“It was surprising the way she said it,” Ruiz testified. “I laughed. She walked out of the restaurant.”

“I thought it was just friends with benefits, that relationship.”

Parts of Ruiz’s testimony were in stark contrast to the 46-year-old woman’s, who testified last week the two of them were never in any kind of dating or romantic relationship and that she first met him in 1986 at a martial arts studio when she was 12 and he was an adult. 

The woman testified the two of them began talking on the phone when she was 14 and stayed in contact for several years. She told the court when she was in her twenties, he was at her apartment, put his hands down her underwear, and touched her. 

In a separate incident, she testified Ruiz threw her on a futon and had sexual intercourse with her. She told court sex continued after that but she wanted it to stop.

Ruiz, 56, has pleaded not guilty to several charges including sexual assault, forcible entry, forcible confinement and uttering threats. The trial’s also dealing with charges of luring a child under 18, obtaining sexual services for consideration from a person under 18, and procuring someone to provide sexual services.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Ruiz is presumed innocent.

Ruiz testified the relationship with the woman ended following an argument over his son staying at a bed and breakfast the woman worked at, after the son was kicked out of his mother’s home.

Ruiz testified the woman told him his son had to leave because her boss saw him smoking.

He told the court he was upset because he had paid $1,500 for his son to stay at the B&B for one month.

“She says ‘no, I’m going to throw his things outside,’” Ruiz testified. “I said, ‘you hurt my kid, I’ll hurt your dogs, I believe.” 

“I was angry. I reacted.”

Ruiz testified he apologized and went to the bed and breakfast a day or two later after his son called him because he was being kicked out of the place.

The woman told the court Ruiz used a shovel to hit the door to try and open the lock before police arrived.

Ruiz testified he was let in.

“(My son) opened the front door,” Ruiz told the court. “I went inside.”

Ruiz said two police officers, along with the woman and her uncle, entered the home.

“They (police) told me I was under arrest for trespassing,” said Ruiz, who denied having a shovel. “I was in disbelief.”

He testified police handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police cruiser before he was released. 

“When the police told me I could go, she was standing outside with her uncle,” Ruiz testified. “I said, ‘don’t you ever talk to me again.’”

“I said, ‘we’re done,’” Ruiz went on, telling the court he wasn’t emotionally invested in the relationship and was seeing another woman at the same time.

Ruiz testified he ran a private investigator company but can’t remember if he helped the woman track down her estranged father.

“I don’t remember that ever occurring,” Ruiz testified, telling the court he knew a lot of police officers, including one member of the force who could’ve helped him track down the woman’s father if he needed assistance.

“I would’ve just told him, ‘hey I need this done,’” Ruiz testified. “And he would’ve done it.”

RUIZ TESTIFIES ABOUT RELATIONSHIP WITH SECOND COMPLAINANT

Ruiz told the court in November or December of 2002 he met a second woman, who testified in the trial last week and is now 35, when she was 17.

He told the court, when the woman turned 18, she started cleaning his jiu-jitsu studio on Sherbrook Street in exchange for free classes. 

He told court they had sex one night in the summer of 2004.

Ruiz testified he had been dating another woman who died in 2006 while they were in Cuba.

“I remember coming back and I was crying,” Ruiz told the court.

Ruiz told the court the 35-year-old woman moved in with him in 2006 for no more than three weeks.

That’s where the woman testified she was repeatedly locked in a bedroom during their relationship. 

“Did you ever lock her in the bedroom?” Ruiz’s lawyer, Matt Gould asked.

“There’s no way to lock that door,” Ruiz testified.

“Did you ever keep her in the bedroom in any way?”

“No,” Ruiz testified, before telling the court the woman thought the door was locked on one occasion but it actually wasn’t.

“It was pretty funny, at the time,” Ruiz testified. 

Ruiz testified he never made the woman have sex with other men and that there was always consent when they had sex. He testified there were never any times she asked him to stop and he didn’t, and there were never any sexual encounters that involved jiu-jitsu holds. 

Crown attorney Michelle Bright is cross-examining Ruiz.

The trial continues.  

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