Longtime Nunavut business leader Ike Haulli's sexual assault victims were awarded $1.2 million, collectively, in a recent civil court case but now those victims must wait and see whether they get to collect any of that judgment.
Haulli, who owned and operated Iglulik-based Savik Enterprises Ltd. and formerly served as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, lost $400,000 of his company's resources and $75,000 from his personal finances when the Canada Revenue Agency took those amounts in 2017.
"This left (Haulli) virtually bankrupt," Judge Earle Johnson said. "He owed over $100,000 and could not borrow any money from friends or family."
Lawyer Alan Regel, who represented the four plaintiffs, said Haulli acknowledged in court that he had sold some assets so there's a chance the victims may get access to those proceeds. Haulli's victims were between the ages of four and 15 when he sexually assaulted them between 1968 and 1986. One of them was physically harmed enough that she went to the nursing station to have her injuries treated.
In a worst-case scenario, victims could be confronted with no financial compensation.
"You're kind of stuck with that. (It's) the old saying, You can't get blood from a stone," said Regel.
Most often, a bankrupt defendant gets to start with a clean slate, Regel noted, but that does not necessarily apply in cases where sexual assault occurred because Canadian law has made exceptions.
"That's something that's not known to a lot of people," Regel said, suggesting that the defendant's future assets could also be at stake.
If there's an amount leftover from selling property but it falls short of fulfilling the judgment, the remaining value is divided among the victims proportionate to the judgment, Regel explained, but that money is only shared among victims after the secured creditors are paid first, such as a bank that provided a mortgage.
Haulli, who represented himself in court, entered the civil case with a September 2008 criminal conviction on his record for sexual assault. At that time, he pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 14 and committing indecent assault on another victim.
The judge in that matter suspended Haulli's sentence and gave him 12 months of probation.
Each of the plaintiffs in the civil suit, who started filing statements of claim against Haulli in 2007, invested time and resources in seeing the case to its conclusion, Regel acknowledged.
Johnson awarded $370,000 to one victim, $350,0000 to another, $275,000 to another and $225,000 to yet another. All of their identities are protected by the court.
"Obviously if they don't get what they're determined by the court to be entitled to, justice isn't fully done," Regel said. "In most sexual assault cases, it's not all about the money. Most sexual assault victims obtain a substantial degree of validation just by virtue of the judgment. That goes part way to seeing justice done... at least recognition that yes, we are indeed believed makes a big difference to them."
A spokesperson with the Government of Nunavut's Department of Justice said the department wasn't able to provide comment last week.