Yellowknife

Man who sexually assaulted YK teenagers to be sentenced


Joshua “Taz” Desjarlais, 27, was convicted last month in Supreme Court on three counts of sexual assault after a judge-alone trial. He is to be sentenced later in June. 

In Yellowknife in September 2017, Desjarlais had sex with three girls under the age of 16 over a two-week period

In finding him guilty, Justice Shannon Smallwood determined Desjarlais had a “willful blindness” to the ages of three teenage girls – 14, 14, and 15 at the time – as they shared hard drugs, alcohol, and sex at his Yellowknife apartment.

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Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane read from a letter from a mother of one of the victims: “Her life is not the same. [This incident] has scarred her. She has not been able to go to school. She is angry at times to the point of [being] suicidal.”

Fane asked for an eight-year sentence in total for the three crimes. He also called for a no-contact order, by which Desjarlais would not be permitted be within 500 metres of where any of the girls reside, work, or attend school – nor work or volunteer around people under the age of 16.

Fane noted Desjarlais has a lengthy criminal record, with several convictions for violent crimes. He was on probation at the time of the sexual assaults.

Desjarlais has been in custody since his arrest in October 2017.

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Desjarlais also received a 60-day sentence, while in custody on these sexual assault charges at the North Slave Correctional Complex, for uttering threats to a corrections officer.

Desjarlais is a father to a six-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. He was drinking and using cocaine and MDMA daily at the time of his arrest. 

Desjarlais stood in court Thursday – on the first day of his sentencing hearing – and, through tears, said he was sorry and takes full responsibility for his actions.

Defence lawyer Scott Cowan told the court Desjarlais, originally from Fort Smith, went into foster care when his mother went to jail for an unspecified crime.

He later lived with his grandparents – both residential school survivors – where he endured dysfunction and fighting.

Cowan asked Smallwood to consider a sentence of four to four-and-a-half years.

Smallwood said she would deliver her decision June 28.

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