An NWT man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in custody for the repeated sexual assault of his niece.
A publication ban prohibits NNSL Media from publishing any information that could identify the victim, including the offender’s name and the NWT community where the assaults took place.
The man plead guilty to 17 counts of sexual assault that took place over seven years on the same victim.
The court heard that the assaults occurred in the man’s home while he was babysitting the victim, his niece. The assaults began when the girl was five years old, and continued until she was 12.
“I lost my childhood when he first touched me,” the girl wrote in a victim impact statement submitted to the court. She wrote that she started to distrust all men, including her father and grandfather, and that she began having frequent nightmares.
The court heard that the girl became withdrawn and often missed school as a result of the incidents.
Judge Christine Gagnon said the offender’s “degree of responsibility” is high.
“These were assaults perpetrated over and over,” she said.
“When this child is left with their uncle, they expect to be loved and protected by this person. The last thing a five-year-old child expects from their family is sexual violence.”
In delivering her sentence, Gagnon acknowledged the relevant Gladue factors.
She cited Statistics Canada’s 2017-18 figures that “Aboriginal” adults represent 30 per cent of those in provincial and territorial custody and 29 per cent of federal custody, despite representing only four per cent of the overall Canadian adult population.
The man admitted to being an alcoholic and to having been drunk for most, if not all, of the assaults he committed.
Both of his parents attended residential schools and the man himself was sexually abused as a child.
Gagnon told the court that the offender’s upbringing was one characterized by “repeated exposure to abuse and addiction.”
The man has two prior convictions of sexual assault from 1991 and 2016, though Gagnon noted that he “seems to be in a better place now than at the time of the offences.”
The offender has been sober since 2012. He is also in counseling to address his childhood traumas. Gagnon said that speaks to his potential for rehabilitation and is, along with the guilty plea, mitigating.
The age of the victim and the abuse of his position of trust, however, are aggravating factors.
Once he’s completed his sentence, the man will be listed on the Sexual Offender Information Registration ACT (SOIRA) for 20 years. He will be barred for three years from working or volunteering in a role where he will be in a position of authority to children under the age of 16.