The following story contains explicit details of sexual assault. Rapid access counselling is available in the Yukon at 867-456-3838. Mental health support is available 24/7 at the Wellness Together Canada hotline at 1-866-585-0445.
On May 2, The Yukon Territorial Court passed sentence on Paul Deuling, who was found guilty of raping a teenage girl in the 1980s. He faces three years behind bars but submissions heard in court suggest he plans to appeal the conviction.
Deuling had previously taught the victim while he was employed at a Whitehorse school and coached sports programs she participated in.
Following a trial in September 2022, Deuling was found guilty of one of the five sexual offences he faced. All charges were based on allegations by a former student who was a child or a teenager when the offences were alleged to have taken place and whose name is protected by a publication ban. The criminal charges were filed in 2019 but the allegations of sexual assault were first levelled in a civil action launched by the victim the year before.
Judge Brian Neal found Deuling, now in his 70s, guilty of one of the five charges. The judge’s decision found reasonable doubt on the four charges stemming from inconsistencies between the woman’s testimony on the stand and previous statements as well as inconsistencies with the testimony of other witnesses.
The charge that Neal found Deuling guilty of dealt with him raping the young woman twice at a remote campsite. She was still a student in the Whitehorse school system at the time of the offence. Neal found the woman was unshaken under cross examination and consistent and unequivocal in her description of events.
The court heard submissions on sentencing from Crown counsel Neil Thomson and Deuling’s lawyer, Richard Fowler, on April 19.
As he outlined the Crown’s view on an appropriate sentence, Thomson argued that the gravity of the offence is high based on the fact that Deuling occupied a position of trust with the victim and that the sexual assaults took place in an isolated location that Deuling had taken her to.
He said the Crown was seeking a four-year prison sentence and ancillary orders including a firearms prohibition.
The court heard a victim impact statement read by the victim. She described the immediate effects of the assaults and those that have lingered over the decades since. The effects include long-term psychological harm, difficulties with relationships and an ongoing distrust of people in authority, especially men. In the months following the assaults, the victim described feeling like a scapegoat due to Deuling’s position in the community and was made to feel unwanted and unwelcome at school.
“I was blamed for a trusted adult and teacher’s choice to rape me,” she said.
Fowler presented mitigating factors including Deuling’s lack of a criminal record and a pre-sentence report prepared about him suggesting he presents a low risk to reoffend.
The lawyer also read two of the letters of support out of the 19 that were filed on Deuling’s behalf. One letter was from his first wife and another from one of his sons.
Fowler presented a sentencing position seeking custody ranging between 30 and 36 months. He also differed from the Crown on the requirement for a weapons prohibition noting that no firearm was used in the commission of the offence and noting Deuling’s involvement with lawful hunting and his family’s guide outfitting business.
Deuling did not take his chance to address the court before the close of the April 19 session.
Neal delivered his decision on sentencing May 2.
The judge noted that Deuling’s apparent lack of remorse and decision not to address the court would not be held as aggravating as the court heard he may appeal the conviction.
Neal’s sentencing decision made particular mention of the “devastating and tragic impact” that Deuling’s offence had for the victim and how his responsibility for his actions was “at the highest level.”
On the opposing side, Neal noted Deuling’s low risk to reoffend and the added hardships of a prison term given his age and health conditions.
The judge found that a sentence ranging between 30 and 48 months would be appropriate based on everything he heard before imposing the three-year sentence. He stopped short of imposing the firearms prohibition requested by the Crown finding it is not required to meet the sentencing objectives.
Deuling will have to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org