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NWT man gets three-year sentence for sex assault, child luring

A Behchoko man was sentenced in NWT Supreme Court Thursday, after sexually assaulting a woman unconscious from alcohol consumption. Natalie Pressman/NNSL Photo

A Northwest Territories man was sentenced to three years incarceration after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and luring a child. 

The sentence represented Justice Karan Shaner accepting a joint submission by the Crown and defence. Court heard the offender's relatively young age and community involvement were mitigating factors in the recommendation for a relatively light sentence. 

The Criminal Code allows for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison for child luring; sexual assault involving a minor under 16 years of age also carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

A publication ban prevents the release of any details that could identify the victim.

The offender’s three year sentence - two years for sexual assault charges and one year for child luring, the minimum allowable - will be deducted from the time he has already spent in custody, meaning he has about 16 months left to serve.

The offender pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the victim when she was 12 years old. The luring happened afterwards. 

Child luring is described in the Canadian Criminal Code to be communicating, through telecommunication, with a person who is, or who the accused believes to be, under the age of 16, for a sexual purpose.  

The court heard that RCMP investigations found 193 calls, 192 MMS messages and thousands of text messages, including dozens of photos, exchanged between phone numbers belonging to the offender and the victim. They also found the victim’s contact information saved in the offender’s phone as "my love."

The court heard several examples of the text messages sent, which were explicitly sexual. 

Shaner noted that while there is a need in sexual assault and crimes against children to send a strong message in sentencing the offender, “there is a significant rehabilitation element at play.”

Shaner acknowledged the Gladue factors present, as with the “systemic impacts that affect all Aboriginal offenders that appear before the court.”

She said she was “struck by his acknowledgement of what he did was wrong and accepting responsibility for what happened.” She added that the offender’s guilty plea is a significantly mitigating factor. 

After completing his sentence, the offender must remain at least 50 metres away from the victim at all times, a distance adjusted to suit the size of their community. He will be barred from seeking employment or pursuing roles that would place him in a position of trust from persons under 16 years old - unless a third-party adult who knows the offender and who is sober is also present.

The offender is also subject to a firearm prohibition for life, excluding subsistence hunting, an exception granted in recognition of the traditional lifestyle common within his community.  

The pre-sentence report submitted to the court containing background information on the offender, notes his involvement in his community. Seeming to accept the defence counsel’s claim that he is of otherwise good character, Shaner said “It breaks my heart to impose this sentence upon you.” 

“I think you’ve got a very good life ahead of you and I wish you the very best.”