A Yellowknife man who claims he was sexually exploited by corrections staff threatened to kill a jail officer last year and expose him as a drug dealer, a court heard on Wednesday.
Kelly Canadian, 26, is suing the territorial government for $1.25 million in damages over alleged exploitation while he was inside the North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC).
Canadian was in court on Wednesday for a separate sentencing hearing related to a range of criminal charges.
The court heard that last fall, Canadian used social media to harass a corrections officer – who is not named in the lawsuit. The man’s common-law partner submitted a victim impact statement in which she states she feared for her safety and that of her son.
“Mr Canadian contacted two individuals using social media multiple times in which he threatened to attend their residence or places or work. He also threatened to tell people that [the corrections officer] was selling drugs at the jail,” said Crown prosecutor Alex Godfrey.
“On October 27, Mr Canadian attended the residence [of the corrections officer] twice looking for money … both individuals were concerned for their safety.”
Later on in the sentencing hearing in territorial court, defence lawyer Jessi Casebeer said the corrections officer who first met Canadian inside NSCC “pursued” him after he was released “for a homosexual relationship.”
The relationship had been taking place “both outside the facility and inside the facility,” Casebeer told court.
That information brought the sentencing hearing to a halt, as the judge was concerned over the name of the guard being stated in open court.
“These are very serious allegations being made,” said Deputy Judge Brian Bruser.
Casebeer explained the ongoing lawsuit does not name the corrections officer who Canadian threatened to kill.
“I only make these comments to explain the situation … Mr Canadian’s motivation to attend the home,” Casebeer said, adding the corrections officer is no longer employed at the jail.
“It is relevant for purposes of this sentencing … in that Mr Canadian is still housed in the facility, and the ongoing litigation and alleged abuse that has taken place has a profound impact on my client’s well-being.”
The unnamed corrections officer has not had a chance to answer to any of these allegations and is presumed innocent.
Bruser ordered a temporary publication ban on the corrections officer’s name, pending the guard being contacted by the Crown to inform him of the situation.
With Canadian’s sentencing hearing facing a possible delay of several weeks, the convict stood up and stormed from beside his lawyer toward the door heading downstairs to the courthouse holding cells.
This startled both the sheriff’s officer by the main door and the prisoner’s armed RCMP escort. The RCMP member later returned to court to say Canadian wouldn’t be returning.
At a court appearance via video link last month, Canadian expressed frustration over the delays in having his multiple outstanding charges dealt with.
Prior to his leaving court for the day, Canadian pleaded guilty to a host of charges from a multiple-page docket list of 36 counts, including uttering threats to kill, criminal harassment and several theft charges from local businesses.
Canadian was stealing items to exchange with dealers for crack cocaine.
Many of the other charges, including several breaches of court orders, were withdrawn by the Crown.
Canadian has been in jail since December 21. The Crown, describing his criminal record as “concerning,” asked for a sentence ranging from six to eight months in custody with one year’s probation.
The defence is calling for a sentence of between four to six months with one year’s probation.
The judge ordered the hearing to continue on Thursday at 2pm, and also scheduled more court time for Friday at 1:30pm.
Meanwhile, in his lawsuit filed earlier this month, Canadian claimed “systemic failures” allowed abuse to take place behind the jail’s walls.
The claim states dozens of sexual encounters took place over the course of three sentences Canadian served at NSCC between February 2016 and May 2017.
As a result of the incidents, Canadian claims he has been left with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and a loss of self-esteem.
The territorial government has 30 days to respond to the claim.
Last week, deputy justice minister Martin Goldney said two corrections officers had been dismissed following workplace investigations into Canadian’s allegations.
The officers had been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
In an earlier, unrelated case, Canadian received $5,000 in an out-of-court settlement after he complained to the NWT Human Rights Commission about harassment by jail staff while serving time in 2016 for theft and assault.