The executive director of the Status of Women Council of the NWT is outraged a man convicted of sexual interference on an 11-year-old girl was not immediately jailed after a judge found him guilty.
Samantha Thomas said she is concerned a man found guilty in court last week of using his foot for a sexual purpose was not immediately locked up.
Yellowknifer has chosen not to name the offender while the victim’s name is protected by a publication ban.
The 34-year-old man will be back in territorial court on Jan. 22 for sentencing. The offence took place in Yellowknife on Jan.29, 2015. He was released on bail earlier this year, prior to his trial.
Crown prosecutor Levi Karpa said the man faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. Karpa added he had the option of asking territorial court Judge Bernadette Schmaltz to jail the man immediately, but chose not to in this case.
He declined to elaborate on why he did not recommend immediate incarceration.
The offender was on bail when he was convicted and Thomas said she can not understand why his bail was not revoked.
“The (judiciary) is not taking the public’s safety into account when they are not placing people who will potentially re-offend into custody,” said Thomas. “The weight of safety for potential victims who are out there, particularly this one when it comes to children, needs to weigh extremely heavily when they
are considering these matters.”
“It needs to be taken seriously. It’s a public safety issue,” she said. “We continue to encourage the judiciary to take matters of sexual assault seriously. “Precautions should be taken to ensure that convicted sexual perpetrators are held in custody prior to sentencing if they pose a risk to the community.”
“The council remains firm that we are concerned about the safety of victims, particularly when victims are children, and not the convenience of the perpetrators,” said Thomas.
This is the second time in the past few months Thomas and other Yellowknife women’s advocates have rung alarm bells over a potential or convicted sexual offender being released while still before the courts
In August, Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA, was disgusted to learn a man charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement was released on bail only to be later charged with the same offences against two other women while out on bail. That man – Peter Tsetta, was released by a justice of the peace.
At that time, Fuller wanted to know what criteria the justice of the peace used in releasing Tsetta.
“I am appalled that this man was released to (allegedly) and harm more women, Fuller told Yellowknifer in August. “Clearly our work with women who experience violence leads us to a stricter definition of who is a threat to public safety than is used by justice officials.”
Thomas echoed those sentiments at the time and wanted to know what kind of risk assessment, if any, has been done on Tsetta. She has the same question this time around.
Fuller did not respond to an interview request on this latest case. Yellowknifer reached out to the NWT Justice Department and Louis Sebert, minister of justice, for comment on this latest case.
Both declined to comment stating in an email they would not because the case remains before the court.
Tsetta, 48, who was re-arrested in the summer after his second alleged sexual assault and forcible confinement, had his bail revoked. He remains in custody and is to appear in court again on Dec. 5.