Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault as heard in court that readers may find distressing.
A man appeared to “show no remorse or empathy” toward his ex-girlfriend even after he admitted sexually assaulting her, a Yellowknife court heard on Wednesday.
At a sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Gary Magee said the NWT Supreme Court “ought to be alarmed and infuriated and disappointed” by the man’s attitude regarding what took place. None of those involved can be named to protect the woman’s identity.
The man showed no regret or empathy in a pre-sentence report, Magee said.
“It seemed as though he felt entitled to do what he wished with her after she initially consented … but then, when she clearly communicated to him that she wanted him to stop, he seemed to believe that he had the right to do what he wanted with her body in order to satisfy himself.”
Magee said the man, now in his early twenties, seems to have “been oblivious to the widespread public reckoning that is going on involving men like him, who have abused women and then blamed the women for their own actions.”
The woman wept throughout the hearing as two women offered her support in the public gallery. The accused’s mother sat with another woman across the aisle.
The court heard the man and the woman, who is of a similar age, met in Yellowknife through a dating app in 2019.
On November 1 that year, the couple were engaged in consensual intercourse at the man’s residence. When the woman “felt a burning sensation” she asked the man to stop, said the prosecutor.
“He understood that she was no longer consenting to sex,” said Magee, describing the woman repeatedly telling the man “I can’t do this” and trying to push him away. The prosecutor said he continued while the woman cried.
Four days afterward, the woman went to her doctor and was told she appeared to have contracted herpes.
The relationship ended on November 9, 2019. The woman then filed a complaint to RCMP. The man was charged and released on bail under the condition that he have no contact with the woman.
However, on May 2, 2020, the man texted the woman and exchanged several dozen messages with her, said the prosecutor.
The man said he wanted to rekindle the relationship and asked the woman to drop the criminal charge against him. He also threatened to kill himself.
He apologized for not heeding her demand to stop the previous November.
In a victim impact statement made a few weeks after the assault, the woman expressed fear for the man’s “bad temper” and “that he’ll physically hurt my family or friends.”
When the couple started dating, she said she had asked the man “if he was clean from STIs and he told me he was, other than chlamydia and he got rid of it.”
Magee noted the fact the woman contracted herpes was not part of a formal allegation against the man before the court.
The man already has 11 criminal convictions for violence or threats, mostly dating to when he was a youth.
The prosecutor noted the woman is Indigenous and legally considered a vulnerable person.
Defence lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass said her client is Métis but was not raised in a traditional environment.
The man was diagnosed with cognitive disabilities at the age of eight and had no positive male role model while growing up, said Whitecloud-Brass.
The lawyer drew attention to the man’s relationship with mother, saying he had “described himself as a ‘mama’s boy’ and … in her eyes, her son could do no wrong, and she was wholeheartedly supporting him throughout this ordeal.”
Addressing the court, the man apologized to the woman.
“Every day, I think about what I did and how I damaged her life, and I feel awful and truly sorry for everything I’ve done,” he said.
Acknowledging the Crown prosecutor’s characterization of his pre-sentence report, the man said: “When I spoke to the probation officer, she could see that I was nervous. She came across very aggressive and seemed … like she was attacking me. It seemed like she wanted to get a rise out of me.”
Justice Karan Shaner accepted the joint recommendation for a territorial jail sentence of two years less a day, to be followed by one year of supervised probation. While on probation, the man must take counselling as directed and is not to communicate with the woman.
He must supply a DNA sample for the national databank and will be on the federal sex offenders’ registry for 20 years. He will be prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years.
Whitecloud-Brass asked the judge if she could request that corrections officials house the man at Yellowknife’s North Slave Correctional Complex, so he could be close to his mother.
“All right, then I will direct that you be placed in custody immediately,” said Shaner in response. “You certainly can have an opportunity to say goodbye to your mom.”