The following story contains 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.
The Yukon Territorial Court passed sentence for Graham Howard Tracey, a man in his fifties who plead guilty to three charges of touching young girls for a sexual purpose.
He was sentenced to five years behind bars in a penitentiary outside the territory and will be subject to a host of conditions when he is released, some of which are set to last for the rest of his life.
Sentence was finally passed on Jan. 23 but many of the details relevant to Judge Karen Ruddy’s final decision were presented on Jan. 10. The Jan. 10 sentencing hearing was held in Whitehorse’s largest courtroom but the public gallery was still nearly full and more people watched the proceedings on both days remotely.
The end of the proceedings detailed the deep negative impacts Tracey’s crimes had on the community, the victims and their families. Ruddy recognized the added frustration created by delayed proceedings — Tracey plead guilty March 2022 and sentencing had been scheduled for June 2022 but Tracey suffered health issues, leading to delays. The guilty pleas were for offences against three victims, but details about a fourth were presented as aggravating information at sentencing following an agreement between Tracey and the Crown.
The identities of the four young victims are protected by a publication ban and the judge took the additional step of not stating the community where the offence took place or the First Nation that some of the victims belong to.
The victims were all between eight and nine years old at the time of Tracey’s offences against them. All have Indigenous heritage. Ruddy considered this an aggravating factor at sentencing, as Indigenous women and girls have historically been disproportionately effected by these kinds of crimes.
Along with his guilty pleas, Tracey’s lack of a criminal record and overall good reputation prior to the revelation of his crimes were presented as mitigating factors that his lawyer, David Tarnow, said should result in a lesser sentence than the four to six-year term sought by the Crown.
As the sentence was presented, Ruddy noted that it was precisely Tracey’s perceived good character and trustworthiness that allowed him access to the children he molested.
Letters of support for Tracey written by his spouse and sister were also presented to the court.
Tracey, a very tall man who entered and exited the courtroom walking with a pronounced limp, sat beside Tarnow with his eyes on the desk in front of him for most of the proceedings. He did rise to offer brief words of apology to the victims and their families as well as his own family at the end of the Jan. 10 hearing.
A report presented to the court at sentencing indicates Tracey lacks much insight into the motivations behind his offences, has limited empathy for his victims and the wider community and presents a moderate risk to reoffend.
Eight victim impact statements and one community impact statement describe Tracey’s crimes as a major breach of trust leading to a loss of a sense of safety in the community. The lost feelings of security are most obvious in the reactions of the victims described by their family members.
Along with the five-year prison sentence, Ruddy imposed conditions including mandatory registration as a sex offender for the next 20 years. Tracey will be allowed no contact with people under 16 years old except his own young daughter under the supervision of his spouse.
The judge concluded by saying that the victims must understand that it was their courage in coming forward that stopped them from being abused again and also prevented harm to possible future victims. She added that the adult guardians of the children must understand that they are not at fault and the blame rests with Tracey.
Ruddy urged Tracey to take treatment while incarcerated before he was led away by the sheriff.
“The Crown was pleased with the sentencing judgement delivered by Judge Ruddy, in particular her recognition of the very substantial impact these crimes have had on the victims themselves, on their families and on the community at large,” Crown counsel Noel Sinclair said.
“The Crown is very grateful for the participation of so many people from the community in the sentencing process.”
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org