POLITICS

Patrick Brazeau Sexual Assault Trial Resumes In Quebec

05/14/2015 10:08 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT

GATINEAU, Que. - Patrick Brazeau's defence lawyer sharpened his efforts Thursday to shred the credibility of the Crown's key witness as he tried to label her as an aggressive woman who's prone to losing control.

The suspended senator, back in court after a six-week break in his criminal trial, is facing charges of assault and sexual assault arising from an alleged incident two years ago in the Quebec city of Gatineau. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Conservatives booted Brazeau from caucus shortly after his February 2013 arrest.

The female complainant, whose identity is subject to a publication ban, has alleged that Brazeau pushed her down some stairs, choked her, hit her head against a wall and a staircase, spat on her and sexually assaulted her.

Earlier in the trial, defence lawyer Gerard Larocque suggested that the woman started the physical confrontation that led to Brazeau's arrest — accusing her of hitting his client with her hand and a bra.

On Thursday, Larocque took his cross-examination further: accusing the woman of striking Brazeau a year before the encounter that led to his client's arrest.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, confirmed to the court that she and Brazeau met with police following an incident in February 2012, but she flatly denied hitting him.

"No, that's false," said the woman, testifying through an interpreter.

Larocque pushed again, suggesting the woman apologized twice to Brazeau that day for hitting him — and did so in front of his executive assistant, Lorraine Rochon.

"No, that's false, Mr. Judge," she said. "I don't know where this story comes from."

Larocque told the court that Rochon would testify next Tuesday when the trial — which is taking place before a judge alone and entirely in French — resumes. The complainant will also be back in the witness box.

Brazeau is expected to eventually testify in his own defence, but that likely won't happen next week, his lawyer said.

"I'm trying to show that she's a lady who is able and capable to hit somebody and to be aggressive and who loses her control," Larocque said as he left court for the day.

Brazeau also spoke briefly outside the courthouse when he was asked what he wants the public to know about the case.

"The truth," Brazeau replied.

Earlier in the day, Larocque sought to highlight potential discrepancies between the woman's testimony and statements to police made shortly after the alleged attack.

In one exchange, he noted how in a written police statement the woman alleged Brazeau strangled her with his hand by grabbing her throat.

He then drew Quebec Justice Valmont Beaulieu's attention to gestures she made in a second statement to police — this one on video.

The video shows the woman pressing her forearm to her throat to show the interviewing officer how Brazeau allegedly put her in a headlock to choke her. Moments later, in the same video, she gestures that he grabbed her neck with his hand.

She told court that Brazeau only used his forearm and that she used the hand gesture to express to the officer that she felt "strangled."

"At that time, it was very difficult for me to explain in detail what happened to me," she said. "I was very nervous."

She has already described clinging to banister spindles as Brazeau allegedly hit her arm to make her let go and shove her down the stairwell. She testifed that the spindles eventually snapped, sending her tumbling down the flight of stairs.

Brazeau is scheduled to stand trial next March, before a judge alone, on charges of fraud and breach of trust in connection with his Senate expense claims. Brazeau has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Brazeau also faces charges related to allegedly being behind the wheel of a car while impaired in October, and for possessing a weapon in breach of his bail conditions. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.

He was also arrested in April 2014 and charged with assault, possession of cocaine, uttering threats and breaching bail conditions. His arrest followed an alleged altercation involving a man and a woman at a home in Gatineau.

Brazeau also pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter