Victim of Kelowna attack tells court of abuse endured
A Kelowna man who teamed up with his girlfriend last summer to confine and brutalize a young woman they believed owed a debt to a friend will spend the next 20 months in prison.
The sentence was delivered Thursday, nearly seven months after Dustin Barry Anderson, 40, pleaded guilty to assault, unlawful confinement and uttering threats. It's an unusual delay, even in a backed-up court system, caused by the fact that Anderson, in the 11th hour, contested some of the details relating to the charges.
That forced Crown Counsel to call the victim —who can't be named because of a publication ban—to take the stand this week, to recount and confirm details of her attack to the court.
Sitting in the witness box, the slender woman, now 33, explained how Anderson and his then-girlfriend Melissa Senko had lured her to a hotel room, and tried to force her to agree to a scheme that would allow them to collect on a debt owed to the unnamed third party.
They told her they wanted her to do "jobs" to pay back the alleged loss, and also offer up a weekly sum they'd use to keep a lawyer on retainer, should they be caught for any misdeeds.
To ensure the victim's compliance, Senko spent hours torturing and degrading her while Anderson stayed nearby offering his support.
"He didn't have the guts to defend me," said the victim.
And, she explained, she could have used the help. By night's end, Senko subjected her to degrading full-body searches, hateful comments, knife-wounds to her face and arm that needed medical intervention, as well as numerous burns to her legs and back.
When the night started, however, Anderson indicated to the victim she could avoid what was to come.
"He said, 'just tell the truth, tell the truth and it will be easier for you'," she recalled.
"Then (Senko) punched me in the face. I said I wasn't guilty, 'please let me go' and I was crying."
It seemed, from her perspective, however, that Senko was enjoying the work at hand.
"She said, 'I'm not finished yet, I need to show you what I'm made of'," she said.
"She was becoming adrenalized with the fear she was putting in me."
That's when she tried to walk out of the hotel room, but Anderson intervened pushing her back to the hotel bed.
"I panicked and I went for the house phone," she said. "I tried to dial out, then she grabbed the handset, hit me in the head (with it) and almost knocked me out — I saw stars."
Other hits followed, as the night unfolded and the sight of the victim's blood prompted an unusual response from her captors.
"When she got a good shot in, they'd high five," she said.
They also took photos and video.
"(Senko) said there wasn't enough blood, and she needed to get a few more shots in to make the pictures look good," she said.
It was Anderson who was taking the pictures and shooting video footage.
As the night progressed, a second attempt at escape offered the window to freedom.
At the end of another struggle with Senko, the victim was knocked to the bed and landed near her cellphone, which had earlier been taken away.
She grabbed the phone and slipped it into her bra, under her armpit and shortly thereafter Anderson and Senko started "taking hoots" from their crack-pipe.
The pipe, which had a long hose and a glass stem didn't distract them for long, however.
Senko ended up using it burn the victim.
"I have a lot of burn (scars) on my back and legs," she said.
Then the knife came out, and the struggle left the victim with several gashes.
"I can remember the look on her face—she was so excited and so pumped up," she said. "She was like a kid at Christmas."
The night's damage was bloody, and eventually the victim was allowed to go to the bathroom. First Anderson helped clean her wounds, then she was permitted a small window of time to use the facilities.
That's when she uncovered the phone she'd stashed, and kept hidden, despite the duos attempt to find it.
She hid it under a towel on her lap and dialled 911, and when the call was answered she whispered the hotel's name and room number, twice.
A short time later the police arrived and the victim was able to tell them what happened through a torrent of tears.
Although Senko, who was sentenced to three years, was the main aggressor Anderson played a significant role in the crime. He also has a lengthy criminal history of violence.