Yellowknife

Stairwell attack ‘clearly an attempted rape’ says judge


Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault case, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing

A drunken man jumped a woman in an apartment stairwell, chasing her up the stairs with his pants undone until he passed out, a Yellowknife courtroom heard last week.

Johnny Simpson, 61, a residential school survivor – who later worked as a corrections officer – pleaded guilty to sexual assault in exchange for other charges, related to the violation of court orders, being dropped.

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The woman, from a small community in the Beaufort Delta, wasn’t physically injured but is now afraid of people, Crown prosecutor Blair McPherson told a sentencing hearing in Territorial Court on Thursday.

“She also says she has stopped taking classes … she has panic attacks,” McPherson said.

“She is upset by the situation and is considering moving away – she [is afraid] of bumping into Mr Simpson. It was clear that sexual assault was on his mind.”

On May 29 last year, at 5am, the woman had left a night of socializing at the Quality Inn with her niece to return to her sister’s place in the Fort Gary Apartments.

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When she entered the stairwell, Simpson attacked her, throwing her to the floor.

He clawed at her clothing, pulling her pants and underwear down. When he went to undo his pants, the woman managed to fight free and run upstairs.

On reaching her sister’s apartment, she looked back to see Simpson fall over and pass out in the hallway behind her.

Simpson’s lawyer, Tracy Bock, said his client does not recall anything of the incident, as he was extremely intoxicated and suffers from dementia.

Judge Robert Gorin called the joint submission “somewhat lenient,” but agreed to send Simpson to jail for six months – which meant time already served, given his pre-trial credit.

Simpson will be on probation for one year, with an order not to contact the woman.

He will also be on the national sex offender registry for 20 years and have his DNA in the federal databank.

“This was clearly an attempted rape,” said Gorin. “One can imagine the terrifying impact it had.”

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