A Whitehorse courtroom heard several victim impact statements this week about the betrayal, pain and loneliness caused by a former Yukon man who sexually abused 13 girls.
Among them was one read by a victim herself, who spoke about the shame and fear she felt after being sexually abused by someone she thought was a trusted adult, but also of her newfound strength.
“I am no longer ashamed,” she said Feb. 26, standing at the Crown’s table and facing the man, who was seated by his defence lawyer.
“Now I know that you were in the wrong. Everything about what you did was wrong.”
The girl said she felt “manipulated and stupid” as well as “confused, repulsed and terrified” after being told about the abuse. Around that same time, she added, her friends had began “experimenting with boys and relationships, but whenever they would talk about getting intimate with others, all I wanted to do was cry.”
“I was repulsed by the thought of anyone touching me ever again because I was terrified that they would be like you,” she said.
“I became paranoid that there were other men in my life like you. I began questioning everything and everyone around me. That’s not the way for any 14-year-old to live, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”
But, the girl said, she recently developed the strength to speak out.
“There is only one thing that repulses me now, and it’s you.… I’m about to finish it so that no child has to go through anything like this by your fault ever again, so that no child, no parent, no friend or even boyfriend will have to go through something like this,” she said.
The girl concluded her statement by turning to face Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale.
“Please,” she said, “do not allow this man to be in a position where he can prey on another child ever again.”
A mother of several victims also addressed the court the same day. When her daughters were younger, she said, people would always tell her how beautiful they were and tease her about how hard it would be to keep boys away once when they became teens.
“How ironic,” she said through tears, adding that now, anytime anyone says her daughters are beautiful, it feels like “a stab to the heart.”
When she and her husband found out the man had sexually abused their daughters, they were filled with “rage, betrayal and sheer disgust,” she said, and the revelation tore her family apart — her husband became afraid to show affection towards their daughters for fear of being seen as a pervert, and their older daughters were filled with guilt, wondering, if had they spoken up sooner, “their baby sister would have been spared.”
“Your Honour, we never had a chance…. Your Honour, it’s too late for us,” she said to Veale, but added that he has the power to ensure the man doesn’t harm another child.
The father of another victim spoke in court Feb. 27. Portions of his statement were redacted for legal reasons; he told the court he had pondered what he would do if too much of it was cut out.
“I thought the best response would be to vomit over the bench and floor, because that’s how I feel,” he said.
“From where I stand today, all I can see and smell are putrid, rotting lies.”
After finding out what the man did, the father said he couldn’t sleep for months and that he and his wife still attend counselling. The experience also left him with a deep distrust of men, he said, adding that for far too long, the justice system, which is run by men, has allowed men to continue to hurt women and children.
“I’m ashamed to be a man as long as there are men like (the man),” he said.
“There are days when I’ve wanted to cut off my genitals and renounce my gender.”
But, the father said, the people affected by the man’s crimes are not victims.
“To consider ourselves victims is to give him what he wants,” he said.
“We must deny him the satisfaction that he has a piece of us.”
“We are united by our common wound,” he added. “We are not alone…. We are united by our love for our children, our families and each other…. There is only one person here who is truly alone, and that is (the man)…. He will die a sad and lonely man.”
Crown attorney Susan Bogle also presented statements Feb. 27 and 28 on behalf of other victims’ family members. While the majority were written statements, two were art pieces — one, a series of seven drawings showing life before, while and after learning of the man’s crimes, and the other, a multimedia piece with a silhouette of a girl placed on top of a background of newspaper clippings.
The girl is surrounded by gauze meant to represent wasp nests. She is crying.
Crown, defence make closing arguments
The Crown and defence both presented their closing arguments this week in a dangerous offender application hearing for a former Yukon man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 13 girls.
The man has pleaded guilty to nearly 30 charges including sexual interference, producing child pornography, accessing and possessing child pornography and voyeurism. His crimes, the majority of which were committed in the Yukon, took place over seven yearsand involved victims as young as six years old.
The Crown, which described the man’s crimes as one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse the Yukon has ever seen, said the man deserves the dangerous offender designation, a permanent label that would keep him tied to the corrections system for the rest ofhis life.
The defence, however, argued that the designation would not be appropriate considering a psychiatrist’s testimony that the man is a good candidate for high-intensity treatment which, if successful and combined with other factors, would put the man at low risk ofreoffending.
In back-to-back submissions Feb. 28, Crown attorneys Susan Bogle and Noel Sinclair argued that the man’s numerous victims, the severity of the abuse and the fact that the man exploited relationships for years to access victims justifies a dangerous offenderdesignation and a sentence of indefinite incarceration or, in the alternative, a sentence of 14 to 16 years.
The awful impacts of sexual abuse on children is well-documented, Bogle said, as is the harm caused to children by the production and consumption of child pornography, and sentences must be significant enough to condemn and deter the behaviour.
In his submissions, Sinclair said that the man had shown, over and over again, that he is a liar and has established a pattern of failing to restrain his behaviour and of consistently deceptive behaviour. The man is “seriously messed up in the head,” Sinclair said, whenone applies the evidence to the law, it leads to one destination that will be most beneficial to both the man, in terms of getting him the therapeutic services he needs, and to public safety — a dangerous offender designation.
Defence lawyer Vincent Larochelle, however, argued that neither the dangerous offender nor long-term offender designation are appropriate in this case because the man does not pose a high risk of re-offending.
Relying on the evidence of psychiatrist Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, who interviewed the man and produced a report on him for the hearing, Larochelle argued that the man has shown genuine remorse for his actions, and, according to Lohrasbe, is a good candidate fortreatment.
On top of successful treatment, Larochelle said that other factors like aging and simply participating in justice system proceedings are also proven to reduce the risk of recidivism
Larochelle also described the Crown’s proposed sentence of 14 to 16 years “draconian” and said that a sentence of seven to nine years is more in line with other child sexual abuse cases.
The court will reconvene on April 10, when Justice Veale is expected to set a date to deliver his decision.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org