Serving a jail sentence on weekends can actually be a stronger punishment than straight time behind bars, a Territorial Court judge said on Wednesday.
Judge Robert Gorin reluctantly accepted what he termed a “lenient” joint sentencing submission for a man who sexually assaulted a young family member.
The man’s sentence will see him serve his term on an intermittent basis by reporting to jail on weekends.
Nobody involved in what happened, including the perpetrator, can be named to protect the identity of the teenage victim.
“I note that in making the term of imprisonment intermittent, it will actually protract the length of imprisonment to some extent,” said Judge Gorin.
“[The perpetrator] will be reminded every weekend when he reports for custody that he is being punished and why he is being punished.
“But I think his rehabilitation should not be totally disregarded either, by putting him in a position where he could lose his employment, his income. I don’t think that would bode well for his future.”
Charges of sexual assault and luring a child were dropped by the Crown in exchange for the man’s pleading guilty to sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.
That charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days.
Defence lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass said her client had started drinking heavily due to the stress of working up to 70 hours a week at several jobs.
The man was regularly sending $1,000 or more back to his parents in his home country to support them.
Whitecloud-Brass told the court her client “is very ashamed and very embarrassed for the actions that led him here today.”
“A lot of damage has been done and there is a lot of work to do to repair these relationships.”
The man listened to the proceedings alongside his lawyer, with the help of an interpreter, as his wife dabbed tears from her eyes while sitting in the public gallery.
The court heard he had immigrated to Canada a few years ago.
The teenager suffered panic attacks following her uncle’s actions. A counsellor discovered what had happened, after which – in September 2018 – the girl agreed to tell Yellowknife RCMP.
Friday to Monday
Reading from an agreed statement of facts, the Crown said police were told her uncle, in his mid-30s, had asked questions about her sex life.
He then tried to set up a FaceTime video call between the two, but she refused as she feared he might expose his genitals to her.
She avoided his calls for a prolonged period, until – while babysitting – the uncle again contacted her, stating he needed to see her.
Believing it could be an important family matter, she agreed.
He arrived at the house and gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek. While making small talk, he kissed her on the cheeks and squeezed her buttocks. When she pushed him off, he came at her again for a kiss. The teen moved away and he left.
The man’s sentence means he will have to take any counselling directed by his probation officer and will spend weekends at Yellowknife’s North Slave Correctional Complex – arriving each Friday before 7pm and remaining until Monday at 7am – until he has served 90 days.
In addition to the jail sentence, the man will be on probation for one year when released. He will be on the national sex offender registry for 10 years and must supply a DNA sample.
He will be prohibited from being in a position of authority to anybody under the age of 16 years for five years. He will also be prohibited for five years from having any contact with anyone younger than 16, unless accompanied by a “sober” adult older than 25 years.
“The crime you committed was very serious for a number of reasons,” said Gorin. “You abused that position of trust to have contact with her. And there was a protracted period of what I will refer to as ‘grooming’ prior to the actual touching itself.
“Your actions are something that affected her mental health.”