GUELPH – The trial of a personal support worker formerly employed at the Eden House Care Facility in Guelph/Eramosa resumed in Guelph court earlier this week.
The judge-alone trial of Kyla Skjonsby was set to resume in April, but was put off until June 28, when the 23-year-old Cambridge resident took the stand as her mother looked on.
Crown and defence lawyers questioned Skjonsby on Wednesday, as well as a witness heard by the court last year.
The witness previously testified she and Skjonsby were in a showering room readying an elderly resident for bathing in August 2021.
According to her testimony, the witness heard a “camera shutter noise” and looking into a mirror she was standing in front of, saw a photo of the elderly resident’s pubic area and genitals displayed on Skjonsby’s cellphone screen.
The witness further told the court that Skjonsby then sent the photo to people over the Snapchat smartphone app.
A police investigation was started on Sept. 7, after the witness made Eden House management aware of the allegations.
Skjonsby pleaded not guilty in November to charges of voyeurism and the distribution of surreptitiously made photos.
The charges have not been proven in court, and Skjonsby is presumed innocent.
The Advertiser is not identifying the resident or witnesses involved, including Eden House staff and police officers, because of a court-ordered publication ban.
Defence lawyer Amy McQuaig relied heavily on a transcript of a Wellington OPP officer’s interview with the witness, conducted in 2021.
McQuaig questioned the witness’s recollection of events.
“Memories can be funny, right?” McQuaig asked.
“Sometimes you think you remember something, but it’s actually much different.”
“I know exactly what I saw,” the witness testified.
“Isn’t the truth that you really don’t know what happened here because of how quickly it happened?” McQuaig suggested.
“I watched the picture be sent to two people,” the witness recalled. “I saw it in real time.”
McQuaig went on to suggest the witness made the entire story up in the interest of self-preservation following another situation at the facility.
Court heard the witness had also reported Skjonsby to Eden House management after a resident was purportedly wheeled down a hallway without their clothing on, in “merely a towel,” after being bathed by the witness, Skjonsby and other staff.
But the witness didn’t come forward about anything until confronted by another staff member.
The witness testified it was only afterward that she made the allegations against Skjonsby to Eden House management, in early September.
Now 23 years old, Skjonsby told the court that Eden House employees had their personal phones with them while working.
“It was common, a lot of the employees just kept their phones on [them],” Skjonsby told Crown attorney Andrew Allen.
That went against an Eden House rule, Skjonsby said, adding, “It wasn’t really a rule that was enforced.”
Skjonsby admitted to messaging friends and a boyfriend while at work – “when I had a spare minute and I wasn’t in the middle of doing anything” – but said she preferred to use other messaging apps over Snapchat.
“I would never take a photo of any resident,” Skjonsby testified.
The prosecutor noted Skjonsby’s recollection of her personal phone use at Eden House differed from what she originally told police in 2021 – namely that she used her phone only to check time or when on break.
“When I talked to the [officer], I was already in trouble at Eden House … and I didn’t want to get in more trouble for being on my phone,” Skjonsby said, becoming visibly emotional.
“I’m telling the truth now.”
By the time Skjonsby sat down with police on Sept. 9, two days following the allegations, she had replaced her previous phone.
“I had just found out that day all the details of what I was being accused of, and … did not have the actual phone [the officer] was talking about on me,” Skjonsby said.
“Very rarely” does she get a new phone, Skjonsby told court while being cross-examined by Allen.
But the old one was “acting up a bit” days before, she testified.
Skjonsby told court she had taken “very good care” of it, and suggested something “inside of the phone, I’m going to guess, just kinda stopped working.”
The old iPhone 6S was given to a family member and reset to its factory state, court heard.
The iPhone was later provided to police for examination, with an officer believing it was factory reset prior to the allegations.
“I’m going to suggest … that back in August 2021, you weren’t thinking,” Allen said, suggesting Skjonsby took a nude photo of the elderly resident in the shower room and sent it to friends on Snapchat.
“That is incorrect, I never did that,” Skjonsby replied.
“And you didn’t mean any harm by it,” the prosecutor continued, “but you did it.”
“No, like I said before I never did it, nor would I ever do it,” Skjonsby said.
The trial before Justice Lorelei Amlin is expected to conclude in November, when the Crown and defence will make final submissions.