A man convicted as a youth for a violent sexual attack on a 15-year-old girl from his school must spend time in jail, Alberta’s highest court has ruled.
Prosecutors had appealed a more lenient sentence handed down at his trial in 2018 when he was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to two years of probation.
In a decision released this week, the Alberta Court of Appeal ordered the man, who now lives in Saskatchewan, to turn himself over to Calgary police to serve six months in custody.
The 20-year-old cannot be named because he was 17 at the time of the offence.
The Crown argued his initial sentence wasn’t enough because “the respondent violently assaulted a young person, who was in effect a stranger to him and a guest in his home.”
A custody and supervision order in the range of 14 to 18 months would be more appropriate, the Crown said.
The three Appeal Court judges agreed, saying the trial judge did not take the victim’s long-term suffering into account.
“The reasons for the sentence do not indicate the trial judge appreciated the significance of the psychological harm suffered or that he considered it an aggravating factor in determining a fit sentence, as was required,” the ruling said.
The attacker had invited his younger schoolmate to his house for lunch on Oct. 3, 2016, the judgment said. They had spoken once on Facebook, but had never met.
When they were at his home, he forced intercourse on her while she said no about 40 times, the document said. She was a virgin at the time.
A doctor found she had bruising on her back and knee, as well as interior tearing and swollen vaginal tissue.
“This is among the most significant findings I have seen,” the doctor testified at trial. “Those findings aren’t very common, because those tissues can accommodate a lot of force without showing any injury.”
The Appeal Court panel noted that while the offender has been able to move on with his life, the complainant has not.
“She has recovered from her physical injuries, but remains psychologically traumatized.”
At his sentencing hearing, others described the offender favourably, saying he was in a committed relationship and about to start his own company.
A psychological assessment was also positive, but noted that he refused to accept responsibility for the assault and claimed the girl consented.
During the appeal, his defence lawyer said it wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was seriously harmed.
The Court of Appeal said her victim impact statement showed otherwise and was never challenged during the trial.
In her statement, the victim said she wasn’t able to attend school and suffered from panic attacks and debilitating depression. She said she also had suicidal thoughts.
“No one can touch me. If I’m not fully aware, I will jump from the slightest graze, or I will fully break down and cry,” she said.
“I have been homebound now for the majority of my recent years.”
The Appeal Court ruling said the sentence “failed to hold the respondent accountable and failed to impose a meaningful consequence for an offence of such seriousness.”
The judges said a proper sentence would be a custody and supervision order of 15 months. He was given nine months credit for time already spent on probation.
© 2020 The Canadian Press