A Fort McPherson woman told the court she has been sleeping with a baseball bat by her side since she awoke to a stranger’s touch in 2019.
The man, Max Stewart, drunkenly entered two women’s homes that night touching one sleeping victim on her thigh and the other on her neck. In both cases, he escaped after being confronted by the women.
After a trial where both women testified – a factor Crown prosecutor Levi Karpa calls aggravating – Stewart was found guilty of sexual assault for touching one woman’s thigh, assault for touching the other’s neck and mischief for being unlawfully present in the victims’ homes.
The man, 21, was heavily intoxicated at the time and could not properly formulate intent required for a break and enter charge. He was instead convicted of the lesser count of mischief.
In delivering her sentence Judge Christine Gagnon said the circumstances of the offences are “a woman’s worst nightmare.”
“I can think of nothing scarier than being woken in your own home by touching from someone you don’t know.”
Gagnon acknowledged that the victims were “rightfully” traumatized. One woman wrote in her victim impact statement that she “had never felt so disgusted,” and that she considered suicide after the attack. The second woman feared for her children who were also in the house at the time.
“At the same time,” Gagnon said she must consider Stewart’s young age and the “significant” steps he has taken towards rehabilitation.
Gagnon said that alcohol was “clearly” a major factor in the offence and since Stewart has been sober since January 2020, she felt assured that he would continue to commit to a “healthy, stable life.”
She said that the pre-sentence report advising on Stewart’s background left her with a favourable impression of a man who is supported by his spouse, his two sisters in Fort Smith — where he now lives — and his boss who acts as a mentor to the young man.
Though Stewart dropped out of grade 10 due to difficulties with reading and writing, he recently re-enrolled in adult basic education. He plans to complete his grade 10 education so he can apply for his heavy equipment operator designation.
Gagnon noted Stewart’s remorse and said she felt assured he was not a risk to the community.
On the assault and sexual assault convictions, Gagnon sentenced Stewart to time served for the 117 days he has amassed from pre-trial custody.
She sentenced him to six months of house arrest for each conviction of mischief, to be served concurrently to one another, followed by 12 months of supervised probation.
While on house arrest, Stewart must abstain completely from alcohol or any non-prescription intoxicating substances. He must remain at his place of residence at all times with exceptions only for work, school, meetings with his boss and medical emergencies for either himself or his immediate family. He is to have no contact with either of the victims and is allotted two hours a week for personal errands.
His probationary period begins as soon as his house arrest is complete. He is similarly bound to abstain from intoxicating substances and have no contact with the victims. He is also required to provide a DNA sample for the national data bank and be on the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) for a period of 10 years.