A woman has told a Sydney court she thought she was just meeting a man for coffee after connecting on a dating app, when he took her to his apartment and sexually assaulted her.
French father-of-two David Gabrieli presented himself as an “outdoorsy” doctor on the dating app and website RSVP, and had texted and called the woman a few times before they arranged to meet in August of 2017, she told the court.
Mr Gabrieli is accused of a string of sexual offences relating to four women he met via the dating apps RSVP and Bumble between August 2017 and January 2018.
He has pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to 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.
On Tuesday, the first woman to give evidence in the trial said she contacted police in 2018 after recognising Mr Gabrieli in a news story, which said he had been charged after allegedly raping a woman he had met on Bumble.
The woman told the court Mr Gabrieli had invited her for coffee in Maroubra at 4.30pm on August 16, 2017, and as she arrived the cafe was closing. Mr Gabrieli suggested they have a coffee in his apartment, which turned out to be across the road.
The woman told the court she “didn’t know Maroubra at all” and didn’t know anywhere else they could go and thought ‘what’s the harm in it?'”
The pair spoke on the couch for about 20 minutes, she said, before Mr Gabrieli started kissing her. She said she kissed him back initially, but when he “groped” her, she told him to stop, and words to the effect of “this is going too fast for me”.
She repeated the phrase, but instead of stopping, she told the jury he grabbed her wrist, moving her hand onto his groin.
She couldn’t remember whether she said anything to him at that stage, but she said he was holding her wrist “quite forcefully” and “he would have known that I was trying to pull my hand away but he kept my hand there.”
She said his tone was “demanding” and it “wasn’t a request, it was a command”.
“I was scared because I had already said several times to stop and he hadn’t stopped, and I was quite fearful that he would try to rape me,” she said.
She agreed with defence barrister Mark Brady that Mr Gabrieli never shouted at her, struck her or verbally threatened her.
The trial continues.
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Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald.