Palmerston man guilty on three counts of sexual assault; jury acquits on two counts

Jury delivers Monday-night verdict in week-long trial of Michael Hurst at Guelph Superior Court

GUELPH – Shortly after 7pm on Monday night at Guelph Superior Court, word arrived: the verdict was in.

Roughly six hours earlier on Sept. 18, a 12-member jury began deliberating on whether to convict or acquit Palmerston resident Michael Hurst on five counts of sexual assault.

Jurors previously spent Monday through Wednesday last week hearing testimony from two women, and Hurst himself, before closing arguments from the defence and prosecution were made Friday.

Court heard of multiple allegations of sexual assault perpetrated by Hurst, between 2017 and 2020, against two women he came to know professionally.

The Advertiser cannot name the women, or report on many specific details of the case, because of a court-ordered publication ban, which is standard in sexual assault trials.

Hurst previously pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexual assault on Aug. 30. His trial began before the jury and Superior Court Justice Cynthia Petersen on Sept. 11.

Count by count, the jury’s verdict was read aloud: Hurst was found guilty of committing three counts of sexual assault involving the women.

As Hurst stood listening to the verdict, he didn’t appear to show much emotion, staring straight ahead with a reddened face.

Hurst was acquitted by the jury of two remaining sexual assault charges.

The close of the week-long trial marks the second sexual assault trial for Hurst.

A December trial saw a judge convict Hurst of sexually assaulting two women, and committing an indecent act in front of an additional three women, between 2007 and 2015.

He was sentenced earlier this year to two years of house arrest followed by three years of probation.

Hurst returns to Palmerston where he will remain until Oct. 19, when he is expected to be sentenced by Justice Petersen.