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Man gets two years for sexually assaulting sisters

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 28/02) - A 19-year-old man, who sexually assaulted his younger sisters over a five year period, will spend two years less a day in prison, ruled Justice Virginia Schuler in Supreme Court last week.

Beginning in 1996, he had vaginal, oral and anal intercourse with his sisters, sometimes threatening to cut off their fingers or shoot them if they refused.

The assaults stopped in 1997 after the department of social services and the RCMP became involved. The family sought counselling, but the assaults began again earlier this year and he was arrested.

The victims are now aged 11 and 13.

"Clearly the effect of the offence on the sisters is significant," said Schuler during sentencing. "It's also clear from the pre-sentence report, it has taken its toll on the family."

Defence lawyer Kelly Payne argued the man is immature for his age and wasn't an adult during most of the offenses. The last assault in 2002 only involved sexual touching, she said.

But the assaults were repetitive, said Schuler, and continued even after counselling. Schuler also pointed out he did not have sex with his sister during the last assault, only because she managed to get out of it.

Payne also said the man is not a "predatory offender" but became sexualized at an early age when he and his brother discovered pornography that belonged to a boarder.

The judge disagreed, pointing to the threats.

"He is an older brother preying on his younger sisters to satisfy his own sexual gratification," she said. "This is not a case of a 13-year-old and a 12-year -old experimenting sexually."

The judge did take into account his young age and immaturity and gave him credit for pleading guilty and therefore sparing his sisters the ordeal of testifying.

In her sentencing, the judge said the man needs counselling and a structured environment with supervision.

Although the judge said the crime justifies a penitentiary term, she decided serving time in one could impede the man's chances of rehabilitation.

"You must be aware of what you have done to your sisters," Schuler told him. "It would be possible for one to sentence you to 20 years in jail for what you have done. Think about that."

The man's younger brother has also been charged with sexual assault against the same victims. He is scheduled to appear for trial on Sept. 1 at 9:30.