Supreme Court of Canada declines to hear Yukon circle sentencing case

The man was given jail time despite the recommendations of a community sentencing circle

Canada’s highest court has declined to hear the case of Yukon man who was given jail time for sexual exploitation despite the recommendations of a community sentencing circle.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for leave to appeal from “E.O.,” whose real name is covered by a publication ban, on Nov. 28.

The court does not give reasons for dismissing applications.

E.O. had applied to the court in August, arguing that a Yukon territorial court judge and the Yukon court of Appeal were wrong to disregard his sentencing circle’s recommendation that he be given a conditional sentence instead of jail time.

E.O. had pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexually exploiting his wife’s then-17-year-old niece, with the trial judge sentencing him to 15 months in jail. A sentencing circle held in his home community, however, had recommended he be given a nine-month-long community supervision plan.

E.O. unsuccessfully appealed to the Yukon Court of Appeal, which found the trial judge was right to give minimal weight to the sentencing circle’s input. The appeal court found that the circle had been largely attended by E.O.’s friends and family members, that participants expressed a “considerable” amount of victim-blaming, and that there was little input of the victim herself.

E.O. argued that excluding the sentencing circle’s recommendation was a “a direct and powerful blow to efforts to promote understanding of indigenous perspectives on sentencing and the involvement of indigenous communities in the process.”

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