A man who sexually assaulted his cousin, leaving her “afraid” and “depressed”, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in jail.
A publication ban prevents NNSL Media from releasing information that could identify the victim. That includes the offender’s name and the NWT community where the assault occurred.
The court heard that in 2018 the cousins were hanging out in the victim’s home when the offender began to tickle her, as was not uncommon for their relationship. She tickled him back, however the interaction escalated when he then got on top of her, pinned her down, and committed the assault.
The court heard that the victim expressed a clear lack of consent by telling the offender “stop,” “please,” and “I don’t want this.” The victim was also turning her head from side to side to avoid his kiss.
The assault continued for about 10 minutes before the victim was able to use enough force to push him off of her. In her victim impact statement, she said she had bruises on her arms and legs from where the offender had pinned her down.
She told her mother of the assault shortly after the incident occurred and charges were laid.
As the offender is her cousin, the woman wrote in her victim statement that throughout the court proceedings family members frequently approached her to encourage her to drop the charges. She continues to feel ostracized by much of her family, including her father and grandfather who have stopped talking to her altogether, the court heard.
“He ruined my life,” she wrote in the victim impact statement, explaining that she has given up her plans of going to school. “It’s hard to find motivation to do what I wanted to do because it involves people, and now I am afraid of people so what can I do,” she wrote.
In rendering her decision, Justice Louise Charbonneau said that among the case’s aggravating factors are the offender’s use of force to restrain the victim and the fact that the two are related. As a relative, the offender is someone the victim “should have had no reason to fear,” she said.
Charbonneau called the woman’s victim impact statement “sad and eloquent.”
Charbonneau also noted the offender’s guilty plea as a mitigating factor, although it was entered part-way through trial. What makes a guilty plea mitigating, Charbonneau explained, is that it saves the court time and resources in avoiding a trial. Most importantly, an early guilty plea protects the victim from reliving their experiences in a court testimony. In this case, the offender’s guilty plea achieved none of those objectives.
Still, Charbonneau said, the guilty plea indicates to anyone who may have thought this was a “false complaint” that it was not.
With the credit amassed from time already served in custody, the man has 14 months remaining on his sentence. A three year probation will follow.
The offender is subject to the standard ancillary orders imposed on sexual offenders including a DNA order and will be listed on the Sexual Offender Information and Registration Act (SOIRA) for 20 years. There is also a no contact condition with the victim. The offender will not be allowed within 50 metres of her residence or place of employment. Additionally, Charbonneau told him if they found themselves in the same location in the community he would have to leave.
“It should be you and not her who has to go,” she told him. “There may come a time when she is ready to hear an apology from you,” Charbonneau said, “but that should be on her time.”
The offender is also required to attend counselling during his probation.
“This is not to punish you,” Charbonneau said. “This is to help you out.
“There are a lot of good things going for you,” Charbonneau told the offender. “I hope you are able to put this behind you. I hope that things work out for you.”