After three trials, a Whatì 29-year-old has been sentenced to two years in jail for the assault of a young girl in the community three years ago.
Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault case, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.
A large part of the trial focused on whether Nitsiza was aware the girl, whose identity cannot be published, was 13 at the time of the assault. Nitsiza testified he thought the girl was 16 – the legal age of consent – when she showed up outside his home in the early hours of August 24, 2016.
The girl testified that Nitsiza led her to his bedroom and told her not to tell anyone. “That’s when he raped me,” she said. The girl testified that the attack lasted around four minutes and that she asked him to stop five times.
Nitsiza testified that he asked the girl how old she was, and she told him she was 16. He said he stopped having intercourse with her as he “felt like a creep” about the age difference.
“I was thinking, like, I was 11 years older than her … it didn’t feel right,” he said.
Under cross-examination, both the girl and Nitsiza admitted to having lied about aspects of the case.
During the most recent trial, defence attorney Jay Bran suggested it was plausible the girl had lied about her age to Nitsiza, as she had lied to authorities and during one of the earlier trials.
Crown prosecutor Trevor Johnson countered that it was “implausible” Nitsiza didn’t know the girl was under 16. In the community of Whatì, which has a population of less than 500 people, the two had grown up together and Nitsiza had even helped to babysit her.
Nitsiza also initially lied to police about having sex with the girl when he was arrested in September 2016.
Nitsiza was sentenced in NWT Supreme Court this week. Taking into account time already served, he will have nine months remaining in jail.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of three years, compared to the defence’s request of 16 to 18 months.
“It’s within a range that we see in these sort of cases,” prosecutor Johnson said of the length of the sentence.
“Every case has its own unique facts, so it’s hard to ever say that this is in line with cases like this, because there’s always some variation in the facts and in the background of the accused. But it certainly is within a range. It’s not out of the ordinary.”
After serving his sentence, Nitsiza will be on three years’ probation with the condition he have no contact with the girl, Johnson said. Nitsiza also faces a 10-year firearms prohibition, must submit a DNA sample, and will remain on the national sex offender registry for 20 years.