An inmate at North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) who recently filed a $1.2 million claim against the GNWT alleging he was “sexually assaulted” by a staff member dozens of times behind the jail’s walls will spend another month at the facility after being sentenced for a string of offences Friday.
Canadian, 26, pleaded guilty to a dozen charges in NWT territorial court on Wednesday, Feb.20, admitting to a series of offences, committed between October and December of last year, from shoplifting and bail breaches to harassment and uttering threats.
Canadian, an openly gay man, spoke out to Yellowknifer late last year alleging multiple inappropriate sexual encounters between himself and two NSCC employees.
Earlier this month, Canadian, backed by civil lawyer Steven Cooper, filed a claim against the GNWT.
Of the two employees Canadian leveled accusations against to Yellowknifer, only one is named in the claim. Yellowknifer chose not to identify either of the two individuals, as they both do not face criminal charges.
A workplace investigation was launched after Canadian reported the two staff members in question and on Feb. 14 the Department of Justice stated two NSCC employees were “no longer employed,” by the GNWT.
Canadian pleaded guilty Wednesday to committing multiple thefts under $5,000 from city stores between Oct. 30 and Nov. 8 of last year.
Canadian also pleaded guilty to criminal harassment, admitting he sent multiple social media messages to two individuals over a four-day span in October 2018 and that he later attended their residence looking for money.
In a bid to “add context” and “explain the motivations” of her client’s criminal harassment, Jessi Casebeer, Canadian’s lawyer, told the court one of the two individuals Canadian harassed worked as a guard at NSCC, where he met her client.
Casebeer said the guard, who, she added, no longer works at the Yellowknife jail, pursued a sexual relationship with Canadian outside of NSCC once he was released.
She said the inappropriate relationship played out both inside and outside of NSCC, an allegation Canadian made to Yellowknifer last year.
‘I am truly sorry’
Following Casebeer’s comments on Feb.20 about the motivations behind Canadian’s harassment, sentencing Judge Brian Bruser said he couldn’t go ahead with sentencing without first hearing from the former guard who is now a victim
Bruser wanted to ensure the victim was given the opportunity to say whether or not they required their identity to be protected following what Bruser called “serious allegations” leveled against the ex-guard.
As Bruser mulled delaying sentencing due to the allegations brought forth against the victim, a visibly upset Canadian stormed out of the Yellowknife courtroom.
Canadian, donning a bright orange shirt signifying segregation at NSCC, returned to court on Friday, where he apologized for his behaviour.
“I would like to begin by sincerely apologizing for my behaviour,” said Canadian, adding the courtroom drama was triggered by “stress.”
Canadian told the court he stole to feed his crack cocaine addiction, selling or trading items to street-level dealers for “next to nothing.”
He apologized for harassing the ex-guard and the ex-guard’s spouse.
“I am truly sorry,” said Canadian.
After asking Bruser to consider his lawyer’s recommendation of four to six months, followed by one-year probation, Canadian turned to the difficulties he says he still faces at NSCC.
“I was sexually assaulted at NSCC 30 to 40 times,” said Canadian.
Canadian lamented how difficult it is to have to “walk by” the office of the person who allegedly assaulted him “every day,” inside the same jail.
In sentencing Canadian, Bruser said he considered the Indigenous offender’s “significant trauma,” as well as the profound Gladue factors that are present in his life.
Bruser considered “the horrible period” Canadian was experiencing when he was stealing to support his crack cocaine addiction, and characterized the thefts as being “part of a spree.”
On the other hand, Bruser called the harassment conviction a “dangerous type of offence,” and handed Canadian a 60-day sentence for that offence alone.
In total, Canadian received a five month sentence, followed by one-year probation. The Crown was asking for six to eight months, followed by two years of probation, while defence recommended four to six months with one year of probation.
With credit for time already served – 119 days – Canadian has about a month left to serve at NSCC.
Canadian has been ordered to pay a restitution fee of just under $600 for the thefts, must submit a DNA sample and is barred from possessing weapons for five years after his release. He cannot contact the victim or the victim’s spouse and is barred from attending any of the stores he stole from.
Publication ban imposed on ex-NSCC guard’s identity
After hearing no challenges from local media, Bruser imposed a publication ban on the ex-guard’s identity and the identity of their spouse.