‘I didn’t win the rape lottery,’ Toronto PhD student Mandi Gray says of rare guilty verdict in sex assault case



Mandi Gray poses for a portrait in Toronto on Friday, July 15, 2016


Read the full text of Justice Zuker's decision in the Mustafa Ururyar sexual assault case

A 28-year-old PhD candidate who was sexually assaulted by a fellow doctoral student in Toronto says she is glad to finally have some closure after her rapist was found guilty of sexual assault on Thursday.

But the war isn’t over: Mustafa Ururyar is still out on bail; his sentencing hearing isn’t until Oct. 24; his defence team is going to push for house arrest (the maximum sentence is 18 months in jail); and Mandi Gray still doesn’t know if York University will allow her rapist to return to campus.

“I feel excited that this judgment came out, but in a lot of ways it hasn’t changed anything at this juncture in my life,” said Gray, who waived her right to a publication ban on her name. She decided not to attend the judgment hearing, but came to Old City Hall Court after the verdict was delivered.

“Gray was very credible and trustworthy. I accept her evidence,” Ontario Court Justice Marvin Zuker told a courtroom. “Rape it surely was.”

Mustafa Ururyar leaves Old City Hall Court in Toronto Tuesday May 24 after closing arguments in his sexual assault trial. He raped a fellow York University PhD student on Jan. 31, 2015.


Mustafa Ururyar was charged with sexual assault for raping Gray, 28, and forcing her to perform oral sex in his apartment in the early hours of Jan. 31, 2015. Ururyar pleaded not guilty in the judge-only trial and testified that the sex was consensual. The Crown chose to proceed by summary conviction, which means the penalty Ururyar will face is much lower than the maximum 10 years for an indictable offence. But as a result, the case took less time to get to trial.

Zuker said in his ruling that he did not believe Ururyar’s testimony, describing it as a “feeble attempt in hindsight” to clear his name.

Mandi Gray outside court on July 21, 2016.


“I stress his version is without reality. It never, never happened,” Zuker said. “It was a joke. A fabrication. I must and do reject his evidence.”

The courtroom burst into applause after he delivered the final lines of his judgment: “The Crown has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I therefore find Mr. Ururyar guilty of the charge before the Court.”

Gray said in a statement posted to Facebook that while both the judge and Crown did a good job in handling her case, this “should not be out of the ordinary.”

“It’s really sad that the legal system is quite literally doing what it’s supposed to and we’re all shocked. I think that says a lot.” Gray said outside court. “I am tired of people talking to me like I won some sort of rape lottery.”

In her statement, she listed a number of examples of how she believes the police and legal system let her down over the course of 18 months and expressed concern about the tactics used by Ururyar’s defence lawyer in an attempt to discredit her.

For much of our history the ‘good’ rape victim, the ‘credible’ rape victim has been a dead one

Judge’s florid ruling seems an attempt to blow up so-called ‘rape myths’


“Justice within a sexual assault case regardless of the verdict will always remain an illusion,” she said. “These statements don’t un-rape me.”

In her closing arguments, Crown prosecutor Jennifer Lofft accused the defence of “hauling out rape myths” and dismissed Ururyar’s narrative of a “spurned lover,” saying “it just makes no sense.”

The judge agreed, and he said the defence did a “job — and a real mad one — trying to shake me.”

“No other crime is looked upon with the (same) degree of blameworthiness, suspicions and guilt,” Zuker said, adding that it doesn’t matter if a victim was drinking, had previously had sex with the accused, did not fight back, how they were dressed or whether they were out alone at night. “No one asks to be raped.”

He said Ururyar tried to take advantage of the fact that it is hard for a victim of trauma to remember every detail about an assault, and the defence tried to paint Gray as a person who did not behave like a “good rape victim.”

“For much of our history the ‘good’ rape victim, the ‘credible’ rape victim has been a dead one,” he said. “When someone takes control of you and pushes their penis in your mouth what can you do?”

The Ururyar trial began on Feb. 1 — the same day as Jian Ghomeshi’s trial on four counts of sexual assault involving three different women. The ex-CBC star was acquitted of all charges on March 24. (He signed a peace bond to resolve a separate allegation of sexual assault on May 11). But it has taken 17 more weeks to conclude the Ururyar trial.


Linda Redgrave, the first complainant at Ghomeshi’s trial, attended the ruling to support Gray. On March 23, the day before Ghomeshi was acquitted, Redgrave launched the website comingforward.ca, which is aimed at helping sexual assault survivors better prepare for court. On April 18, she waived the publication ban on her name.

She said she was sad about what Gray went through, but glad that the Ururyar case was heard by a judge who didn’t buy into “rape myths.”

The ruling has not restored her faith in the entire justice system, but “it’s restored my faith in fighting,” she said.

After about two weeks of casual dating (Ururyar was in an open relationship with another woman at the time of the sexual assault), Gray invited him to join her and a few of their mutual friends at a Toronto bar on Jan. 30. At the end of the night, Ururyar and Gray went back to his apartment.


Mustafa Ururyar in an undated photo.

To listen to Mr. Ururyar paint Ms. Gray as the seductive party animal is nothing short of incomprehensible

According to defence lawyer Lisa Bristow, Gray took off her clothes in Ururyar’s bedroom and he joined her under the covers. He testified that he chose that moment to tell Gray that they shouldn’t be together anymore. He leaned back when she tried to kiss him, and she burst into tears, he said. Ururyar said he consoled her and they simultaneously leaned in for a kiss. The defence said that Gray initiated the sex and that it was consensual. Ururyar also testified that Gray had groped him twice while they were out at the bar and that she was the sexual aggressor.


“To listen to Mr. Ururyar paint Ms. Gray as the seductive party animal is nothing short of incomprehensible,” Zuker said.

Gray never consented to sex on Jan. 31, he said. Gray testified that she Ururyar had an argument on the way to his home because he was disappointed that Gray had failed to convince her friend to join them for a threesome.

Gray went home with Ururyar even though he had berated her, but that is not the same as consenting, the Crown said. When they arrived at his place, he “expressed the ultimate contempt,” for Gray and forced her to perform oral sex and have sexual intercourse.

“She was vulnerable. She was scared. He pounced. Forget the condom. I am in power. I am in command. (Ururyar) said to (Gray) and I agree, ‘this is the last time I’m going to f— you, this is the last time… and you’re going to like it.’ Power, power, power. He was the boss and he loved it,” Zuker said.


He added that he was convinced that Ururyar took advantage of Gray.

“I felt that I had to just comply because I was really scared,” Gray testified. “I thought that him having sex with me — raping me — would be easier than him beating me up.”

In closing arguments delivered on May 24, Bristow said that even if the judge does not believe Ururyar’s testimony, he could still find that Ururyar had an honest but mistaken belief that he had obtained consent based on Gray’s account.

In the months after filing her police report, Gray became an advocate for reform to the way the justice system handles sexual assault cases. She has tweeted portions of the transcript from her cross-examination at trial, including a section where the defence asked her if she had heard the term “dead fish,” used to describe a woman who lies still during sex.

The defence tried to use her activism against her, suggesting she made false allegations against Ururyar in order to gain fame. The Crown dismissed this suggestion, pointing out that Gray had no interest in activism before she went to the police. Gray only got involved in advocacy work as a way to deal with her “trauma,” the Crown said.

Gray filed an Ontario Human Rights complaint against York University in June 2015 over alleged gender discrimination. She told The Canadian Press that the school lacked clear procedures for reporting assaults and, as a result, she was forced to repeat her story to a dozen staff members. Her case is currently in mediation.

Ururyar will appear in court on Monday for a bail revocation hearing. At that point the judge will decide if Ururyar will be allowed to remain a free man until his sentencing hearing on Oct. 24.