A man accused of sexually assaulting four women he met online allegedly posed as a doctor and used photographs of an Albanian soccer player on his dating profile, a court has heard.
David Gabrieli has pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to 22 charges including 13 counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual intercourse without consent, two counts of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of detaining for advantage.
The alleged offending relates to four women the 39-year-old met via the dating applications RSVP and Bumble between August 2017 and January 2018.
“In some cases he attached a photograph of someone else entirely to his profile on Bumble,” crown prosecutor Sally Traynor said in her opening address to the jury in Sydney on Monday.
Ms Traynor said he “pretended to be a medical doctor from Switzerland or Sweden” and used images of Albanian professional soccer player Lorik Cana, including one taken from Instagram.
She said she does not anticipate it will be disputed during the trial that he “was not a doctor and had never been a doctor here (in Australia) or anywhere else”.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly convinced each of the women to go to his apartment in Maroubra in the city’s eastern suburbs on their first meeting or date, often by creating a “ruse”, she said.
WOMAN ALLEGEDLY TOLD TO ‘SUCK IT’
Ms Traynor said the first female complainant began talking to “David” on RSVP in July 2017.
“He told her he was Swiss-French and liked scuba diving,” she said.
The pair met on a Sunday afternoon in August to have coffee but the cafe was closing.
“The accused said words to the effect: ‘My place is only around the corner, we could have coffee there’,” the crown prosecutor said.
She expects the woman to say she was “a bit hesitant” at first but they talked for 20 minutes and he told her “he worked as a doctor at the Swiss Embassy and treated the staff there”.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly kissed the woman, groped her breast and put her hand on his penis.
“At this time she began to feel scared and intimidated as she had said ‘no’ but the accused had not stopped,” Ms Traynor said.
“I expect that she will say that if she physically tried to stop him, he might hurt her.
“She felt cornered as he was between her and the door.”
Mr Gabrieli allegedly told the woman “let’s have sex” and “I want to go down on you” to which she replied “no, I’ve got my period”.
“Well do you want to go down on me then?” he allegedly asked.
He allegedly took her to a bed behind a makeshift wall and told her to lie down and “suck it”.
“She thought that if she gave him oral sex, it would stop him from having vaginal sex with her,” Ms Traynor said.
The incident also allegedly involved Mr Gabrieli pulling off her bra and top and forcefully sucking her breasts.
Afterwards, he allegedly asked her “some rather unusual questions” about the regularity of her periods and whether she was pregnant.
“She was scared, embarrassed and shocked by what happened,” Ms Traynor said.
“I expect that she will tell you at the time that this happened, she was not consenting to these acts.”
The woman reported the alleged assault to police after reading an online news article about an incident involving a woman and a man who had claimed to be a doctor on Bumble, and also recognising a photograph “as the David she had met on her date”, Ms Traynor said.
‘IT’S JUST WHAT MEN DO’
The second female complainant matched with Mr Gabrieli on Bumble and met him on Boxing Day in 2017 after he told her he had a pool, the crown prosecutor said.
In a phone call before her arrival, she allegedly said: “Look, this isn’t about sex. I’m coming to get to know you. I know we can’t go anywhere else because nowhere else will be open.”
Ms Traynor expects the woman to give evidence “he did not look like his profile picture”, that she noticed a bed in the living area and believed Mr Gabrieli had locked the door behind her.
“She heard a sound that indicated he had done something to the lock,” she told the court.
“She sat on the couch but I expect she’ll tell you that from the very beginning she felt uncomfortable with this situation.”
He allegedly abruptly kissed her, touched her breast and put his other hand on her top despite her saying: “I’ve just met you, I don’t want you to touch me that way.”
Ms Traynor alleges Mr Gabrieli replied that he was “excited”, kissed her again and put her hand on his penis.
The woman said: “I told you no to touching me on the breast so what makes you think that it’s okay that you could get me to touch your penis?”.
He allegedly replied: “Sorry, it’s just me.”
The crown prosecutor expects the woman will testify he tried to “cajole her into staying”.
“She was very scared,” Ms Traynor said.
“She was scared because he was very tall and standing over her and she thought he would hit her.
“She kept repeating to him, ‘get out of my way, I want to leave and you can’t stop me from leaving’.”
She told him she was frightened when he allegedly followed her into the lift and outside.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly said: “You know … it’s just what men do, some girls they say no and they mean yes.”
The crown prosecutor said the woman replied: “Oh my god, you are f**ked in the head.”
IMAGES ON USB OF ‘PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER’
A few weeks later, a third woman began chatting with a man on Bumble who said he was 27 and, on his profile in French, that he attended the University of Geneva medical department.
“During these messages, he said he worked at the Prince of Wales Hospital,” the crown prosecutor said.
They met for dinner in Maroubra after he said he was “on call at the hospital”.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly told her he had a headache but she could still come to his apartment.
The woman thought the man who answered the door appeared to be 37 with a “receding hairline and a prominent nose”. He looked “similar” to his Bumble profile “but much older”.
The image she had seen was taken from the Instagram account of Lorik Cana which was allegedly later found by police saved on a USB in Mr Gabrieli’s possession, Ms Traynor said.
Upon her arrival, he allegedly gave her a “yellow drink” claiming it was a margarita with tequila.
When he began to kiss her, she replied: “No, you just met me right now, no.”
Ms Traynor said: “He replied words to the effect of ‘so, I have to work hard for you?’”
“She told him: ‘Nothing is happening today, okay? You just met me.’”
Mr Gabrieli allegedly “launched himself at her” before being pushed off.
“The accused then began talking about penises,” Ms Traynor said.
“He then suddenly took off his shorts so his penis was exposed (and said): ‘How do you like this one? Unfortunately I don’t have any condoms’.”
The woman allegedly replied: “It’s okay. You might as well put your shorts back on because I’m not doing anything with it.”
He allegedly tried to make her touch his penis, pulled at her underwear and dress and sucked her breasts again.
“By this time, (she) lay there and stared at the wardrobe,” the crown prosecutor said.
“I expect that she will tell you that she was not consenting to any of this conduct that had occurred and was not consenting to any of the conduct that took place after.”
Mr Gabrieli allegedly performed oral sex on the woman while forcing his penis into her mouth and masturbated himself while touching her on her genitals before he ejaculated.
“She pretended to masturbate herself,” the crown prosecutor said.
“She thought if somehow she faked an orgasm, it would bring this situation to an end.”
The woman left “as fast as she could” and texted a friend to say “dude, f**king hell”.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly sent her a text message that said “I love your pussy” with a wink emoji.
Ms Traynor said the woman left around 7.53pm and by 8.24pm he’d deleted her on Bumble.
The complainant contacted Bumble and they blocked Mr Gabrieli from using the application.
Swabs for a sexual assault investigation kit allegedly matched the DNA profile of the accused.
DATE ALLEGEDLY ‘PINNED AGAINST THE WALL’
The crown prosecutor said despite Mr Gabrieli being terminated from the dating app, he had the phone number of a woman he had matched with in November 2017 and contacted her “out of the blue” in January 2018.
He “did not look the way she thought he would” when he picked her up in his car at Mascot and allegedly said they should go somewhere else for coffee but drove her to his apartment.
“She recalled, when they went inside, he did something to the lock like maybe flicked the deadlock,” Ms Traynor said.
Mr Gabrieli allegedly kissed the woman and said “sex is good, I want to show you that I like you” when she told him to stop.
The woman was sitting on the floor to charge her phone when he allegedly crouched over her, kissed her, sat on her leg and tried to get her “to play with his penis over his clothes”.
The 39-year-old then allegedly “began to thrust his penis in her mouth” for about 10 minutes.
“Every time he pulled his penis away from her mouth she asked him to stop,” Ms Traynor said.
“She felt very unsafe … and despite her saying ‘no’, he kept going.”
The woman is expected to give evidence she was “pinned against the wall” and told him “I think you should get a condom” as she felt like “he was going to have sex with her anyway”.
Ms Traynor said Mr Gabrieli “grunted” when he was finished and stayed lying on top of her.
“She asked him if he could go again because she wanted to know if this was going to go on for much longer,” the crown prosecutor said.
When he went to have a shower, the woman tried to leave but could not open the front door.
The jury is expected to hear that he agreed to take her back to the train station but asked: “Are you sure that you want to go? I need to find someone to cook and a maid service.”
Ms Traynor said the woman later sent Mr Gabrieli a text saying what he did “wasn’t okay”, that he didn’t have her consent and forcing himself on her was classed as sexual assault.
“What part of no didn’t you understand? I feel violated,” she allegedly wrote.
When the woman went to the hospital, “she was observed to have injuries to the back of her throat, vagina, finger mark bruising to the back of her leg and upper arm”, Ms Traynor said.
Swabs for a sexual assault investigation kit taken from her breast and inside her underwear allegedly matched the DNA profile of the accused.
Mr Gabrieli is being represented by barrister Mark Brady and assisted by a French interpreter.
His trial continues on Tuesday before Judge Nicole Noman SC.
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