A B.C. man has been sentenced to more than four years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual assault, although with credit for time served he will only spend about 16 more months behind bars.
The court did, however, designate Jonathan Cardinal, 23, a long-term offender, which means he will be under supervision for seven years after his release.
Although he pleaded guilty to both counts of sexual assault, Cardinal claimed that he had no recollection of the first assault and very little memory of the second.
He was drunk and high on ecstasy both times.
The first assault occurred in May of 2010 when Cardinal and a woman he met outside of a Whitehorse bar went off to smoke a joint, according to court documents.
As the woman got up to leave, Cardinal grabbed her neck and tried to force her to kiss him.
She tried to fight him off and yell for help, but he was choking her “to the point where she felt she could not breathe or scream.”
During the attack the victim said she feared for her life and pleaded with Cardinal not to kill her.
He stopped the attack and said, “No no, I can’t do this,” before running away.
His change of heart was short-lived, though.
In July that same year, Cardinal assaulted another woman, this time in Dawson City.
The victim testified that she was quite drunk but said she remembered him holding her down and choking her.
Witnesses found Cardinal in a back alley on top of her. When they intervened she was able to push him off.
Semen collected from the second victim was matched to Cardinal’s DNA.
Dr. Lohrasbe, a psychiatrist that examined Cardinal for the court, said that he found him to be remorseful and that he “came across as genuinely bewildered, shaken and saddened.”
When he was read an account of the assaults, he shook his head and said, “I can’t believe I did this.”
“It scares me that I did those things and I have no memory for it,” Cardinal told Lohrasbe.
The psychiatrist diagnosed Cardinal with an alcohol and drug dependence and antisocial personality disorder.
Lohrasbe testified that he could not assess the likelihood of Cardinal re-offending, but, given the violent nature of the two sexual assaults and the seriousness of the impact on the victims, he deemed Cardinal high-risk.
However, Lohrasbe also said that Cardinal would be a good candidate for treatment, as he “has the intellectual capacity, curiosity and emotional stability to explore many possible influences on his sexual violence.”
Court documents detailed Cardinal’s troubled and dysfunctional upbringing.
Born to an absentee father and a drug-addicted mother, Cardinal experienced bouts of both physical and sexual abuse as a young child.
He lived in various foster homes, was expelled from school in Grade 8 and as a teenager started taking and dealing drugs.
While Cardinal’s tragic history provided some context to his behavior, it was not an excuse, said Judge Michael Cozens.
“The impact upon the victims was, and continues to be, significant. It is unlikely that either of them will ever entirely recover from the psychological harm and associated fear and distrust they now live with,” said Cozens in imposing his sentence.
Nevertheless, he remained hopeful that Cardinal would be able to turn his life around.
“I believe that with appropriate treatment, counselling, programming and supports, he will be able to assume a position as a healthy, valued member of the community,” he said.
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