The hearing of a dangerous offender application for a former Yukon man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 13 girls is set to continue Feb. 26. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

A breakdown of Canada’s dangerous offender designation

A dangerous offender hearing for a former Yukon man who sexually abused 13 girls continues this week

The hearing of a dangerous offender application for a former Yukon man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 13 girls resumed this week, with the defence presenting its arguments against the designation. The Crown tentatively rested its case earlier this month.

The designation has been a point of contention in the legal community. Here’s are some key points to know about the dangerous offender designation:

Proof

Applications for dangerous offender designations are reserved for offenders who have committed crimes that are “serious personal injury offences” — basically, anything besides high treason, treason or murder where the offender can be sentenced to 10 years or more in jail and involves violence and either endangers, or is likely to endanger, another person’s safety or inflicts, or is likely to inflict, “severe psychological damage.” It also includes sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault.

Like in a criminal trial, the burden of proof in a dangerous offender application lies with the Crown, which must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender deserves the designation. Things the Crown must prove include that the offender “constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons” due to a pattern of repetitive, persistent behavior where the offender shows a failure to restrain themselves, indifference towards the impact his or her actions have had, or could have, on others and a high risk of re-offending.

In the case of sexual offenders, the Crown must prove that the person has shown a failure to control his or her sexual impulses and that the offender shows a “likelihood of causing injury, pain or other evil” to others in the future by not being able to control their sexual impulses.

Sentencing

A dangerous offender designation is something the offender will carry for life.

The court has three sentencing options when it comes to dangerous offenders. The first, and perhaps the most well-known, is an indeterminate sentence with no possibility of parole for seven years.

Two other sentencing options also exist: offenders can be ordered to serve a regular sentence for their convictions (the punishment for which must be, at minimum, two years in jail) and then be placed under long-term supervision for up to 10 years, or, offenders can simply serve a regular sentence.

If a judge decides that the Crown has not proven the case for a dangerous offender status, the proceedings can also be treated as a long-term offender application instead. A long-term offender designation sees an offender jailed for a minimum of two years and, following his or her release, being placed under a long-term supervision order for up to 10 years.

Past cases

Michael Nehass: In 2016, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Scott Brooker ordered Michael Nehass to undergo an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application. Nehass, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, was originally arrested in late 2011 in relation to a knifepoint assault of a woman in Watson Lake and continued to rack up a charges while in custody at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre where, his lawyer Anik Morrow said, he was placed in solitary confinement for prolonged stretches.

The application against Nehass was dropped in 2017 when Brooker declared Nehass unfit to participate in the proceedings.

Mark Lange: Mark Lange was designated a dangerous offender in 2015 after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm after brutally beating a man outside the old Salvation Army building in 2014. During the three-minute-long beating, which was caught on surveillance camera, Lange kicked the victim, who at times appeared to be begging him to stop, four times in the body and 16 times in the head and upper body.

Lange’s criminal record had 42 convictions, including three weapons-related offences and, most notably, a conviction of manslaughter for his role in killing Carcross hotelier Robert Olson in 2004. A report by forensic psychiatrist high Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe noted that Lange would be at risk for violence into the foreseeable future.

Anthony Skookum: Convicted of repeated sexual assaults and violent offences, Judge Donald Luther gave Anthony Skookum, then 26, a dangerous offender designation in November 2016. At that point, Skookum had been convicted of three sexual assaults, including one offence on a young child. Luther sentenced Skookum to 72 months in jail with credit for time served and also imposed a 10-year-long-term supervision order.

Richard Linklater: A territorial judge decided against giving Richard Linklater dangerous offender designation in November 2017, declaring him a long-term offender instead. Linklater had more than 50 criminal convictions at that time, nine of which were violent offences that included robbery and assault. He also infamously ran out of a Whitehorse courtroom during a bail hearing in 2015 and evaded authorities for a month before he was re-arrested. Linklater was sentenced to two years and 120 days in jail with credit for time served

With files from Ashley Joannou

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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