Warning: This report contains details involving child abuse, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.
A judge must decide on the sentence for an NWT child molester who repeatedly raped two girls in one of the territory’s communities.
The only mitigating aspect is the accused’s guilty pleas to sexual assault, sexual interference and breaking a court order, avoiding the need for a possible jury trial in the small community, Crown prosecutor Billi Wun told a sentencing hearing last week in NWT Territorial Court.
“Neither of the young victims [will] have to testify in open court about the offences that were obviously deeply personal and intimate,” said Wun. “In a small community, everyone knows each other and news travels very fast.”
The identity of the community and anyone involved is being withheld to comply with a ban on publication of any details that could identify the victims.
The first victim was approached by the man in August 2019 and, plied with alcohol, subsequently was sexually assaulted by him three times over three weeks in overnight encounters.
The girl “believed she was in a relationship,” said Wun, noting the man told her not to post any photos of the couple on social media. “He told her to keep it secret.”
The second girl was approached in late September. The man, in his mid-twenties, would contact the girls online and meet them overnight in abandoned or empty homes in the community. One said they “felt sick and threw up” after one sexual assault, said Wun.
The man was released back into the community on bail with strict conditions, which he violated in April 2020. He was found intoxicated with one victim in a trailer.
The girl’s parents made the discovery “and a confrontation ensued,” said the prosecutor.
Wun asked Judge Christine Gagnon to sentence the man to four and a half years in prison.
In a victim impact statement, the mother of one of the girls – both were aged just under 13 – worried her daughter has been “emotionally impacted, emotionally damaged” by the man.
Defence lawyer Alanhea Vogt said her client is “remorseful” for his crimes and “fully understands the harm that he has caused these very young girls.”
The man is going to need “actual, real help” to safely return to society, said Vogt.
The man grew up in the community and lived in a supportive home with parents who stopped drinking when he was eight years old. They remain supportive of him.
He was bullied in high school at a larger community and, in a pre-sentence report, said he was at some point sexually abused by a family member.
His drinking and emotional issues increased after his girlfriend died of exposure after a night of drinking, several years prior to his attacks on the pre-teens.
“He feels a tremendous amount of guilt … her family blames him for her death,” said Vogt, who put forward a sentence of 27 to 33 months.
The man has significant pre-trial custody credit – on the day of the hearing, it amounted to 21 months.
Asked if he had anything to say, the man apologized “for the things I do.”
Judge Gagnon reserved her decision until June 25.