A young North Vancouver woman who was the victim of a brutal sexual assault during a pre-grad party is angry that her attacker will only spend two weeks in custody.
The victim, who was 17 at the time of the incident and can’t be identified due to a publication ban, was attending the unsanctioned party at a Vancouver nightclub along with several hundred other young people, including the young offender, who was 16 and whose identity is also covered by the ban.
The two went into a washroom stall where the offender forcibly digitally penetrated her against her will, twice forced fellatio on her and forced her to have sexual intercourse.
The offender was convicted in November 2017 of one count of aggravated sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. He was also convicted of an earlier sexual assault of another girl.
In November last year, Provincial Court Judge Paul Meyers sentenced him to a maximum three-year term for a youth committing a serious offence, with just two weeks of that period to be spent in juvenile custody and the rest of the time under supervision in the community.
“It makes me really upset,” the victim said Thursday in her first public comments on the sentencing. “People go on vacation for two weeks.”
Her father, who also can’t be identified, said: “Two weeks in a daycare, that’s what the guy got.”
The Crown, which had sought to have the offender serve the full three-year period in custody, isn’t planning to appeal the sentence, a decision that doesn’t sit well with the victim either.
“Not appealing it sucks a lot. I feel like this whole situation shows other people who have survived sexual assault, there’s nothing they can do to get real justice,” she said. “It’s been hard for me to even trust anyone through all of this because they tell me one thing and something else happens. Ultimately this just shows that you can get away with sexually assaulting someone.”
The victim said that since the incident she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has suffered flashbacks to the night of the assault. She’s also had panic attacks, come close to passing out and cried a lot.
“It’s a pretty long list of stuff,” she said.
What’s particularly galling to her is that while the Crown isn’t appealing, the offender is appealing his conviction.
“It almost seems like he’s never going to accept that he did something wrong and he’ll never learn,” she said. “Anyone with a healthy brain or even an ounce of compassionate empathy would understand it was wrong to do what he did. And it scares me that he’s still in the community.”
The sentence has spurred several people to post an online petition calling for the judge to be fired. More than 50,000 people have purportedly signed it and several lawyers have protested that the petition is undermining the rule of law.
In his ruling, the judge, who had the discretion to determine the amount of time in custody within the three-year term, noted that in sentencing a young offender he was obliged to focus on rehabilitation.
He also took into account reports that found the offender was a low risk to reoffend and that he’d abided by his conditions of bail for nearly 30 months, including house arrest and a curfew.
Joseph Saulnier, a lawyer for the offender, said his client had suffered consequences, including being kicked out of school and not being allowed to attend any North Shore schools. When he tried to find employment, someone would contact the employer and he’d lose his job because of the offence, said the defence lawyer.
“Someone was actively going out there and trying to keep him from living a productive life, from rehabilitating himself,” the lawyer said.
Saulnier said the judge committed several errors that will be the subject of the conviction appeal.
Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Crown, said in an email that the decision not to appeal the sentence came after a “full and careful review of the file materials, the pre-sentence reports and the reasons for the court’s decision.”
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