Warning: This report describes details of a sexual assault as heard in court that some readers may find distressing.
A female teenager suffered “a serious violation of physical integrity” when she was sexually assaulted at a high school reunion in 2019 outside of Yellowknife, a judge says.
NWT Territorial Court Deputy Judge Christine Gagnon on Monday sentenced Felix Christophe Flamand to 90 days in jail for one count of sexual assault to be served on weekends, followed by 18 months of probation. The judge said the now 21-year-old is “unlikely to reoffend.”
The female victim, who cannot be identified in any way under court order, described feeling so distraught when writing her victim impact statement that she had to be taken to hospital and kept overnight in the psychiatric unit.
“From her perspective, her pain is real. I can feel it while reading her victim impact statement,” Gagnon said.
The judge quoted passages from that statement on Monday, detailing the “significant” emotional pain and suffering she said the victim has endured.
“[The victim] stated ‘it has been hard to work and live in a body that’s been traumatized’,” Gagnon said. “Her struggle with her sleeping and eating habits has impacted her ability to be awake and alert while attending class.
“[The victim] stated, ‘my life has been derailed,’ and she experienced depression, anxiousness, disorderly eating and suicidal ideation, and thoughts of self harm.”
As a result, the victim said she has been unable to attend classes, work with male teachers, or be around her male friends. Due to missing a number of classes, she said she has to attend another year of school and will not receive the same level of financial aid.
The victim also said she paid out of pocket for specialized trauma therapy until she could no longer no longer afford the service.
“I trust no one, not even my parents or my closest friends,’ … and, ‘I see his face in my dreams and often wake up with nightmares,” she wrote.
Flamand was found guilty in January following trial for the assault which took place on June 29, 2019. That was the night of a high school reunion party at a campsite off Ingraham Trail, where Flamand was drinking with the victim, first around a campfire, then in the rear of a vehicle.
She was blacking in and out before Flamand digitally penetrated her. She panicked and left the car.
“Digital penetration has been considered by the courts as being as intrusive as full intercourse,” Gagnon said. “Here, the violation was a brief duration, and the offender discontinued his action as soon as the victim expressed she was not giving consent.”
Crown prosecutor Madison Walls had recommended a sentence of 15 months, followed by 18 months probation for the charge.
But Gagnon sided with defence lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass, who had asked for either one year of house arrest and probation, or the 90-day weekend sentence as imposed.
In addition to jail time, Flamand will have to provide a DNA sample for the national databank and be on the federal sex offenders’ registry for 10 years. A firearms prohibition will also be in place for two years and Flamand will have to pay a victims’ fine surcharge of $100.
Gagnon noted that since 2019, Flamand has obtained a college diploma, is employed full-time and in a relationship.
“I find that this offence constitutes an anomaly in this young man’s life path … that he is unlikely to reoffend and the potential for rehabilitation is very high,” Gagnon said.
“Judges in the Northwest Territories have been imposing terms of imprisonment to those convicted of sexual crimes, to clearly say that sexual violence against women is unacceptable.”