A North Vancouver teen convicted of aggravated sexual assault at a grad party two years ago will spend just two weeks in youth custody before serving the rest of his three-year sentence in the community, a provincial court judge has ruled.
“It might not be as long as the victims would like,” Judge Paul Meyers said of the two weeks’ jail time while handing down his sentence Oct. 17 in youth court. “Sentencing is a very difficult thing for people who are victims of crime.”
Meyers found the youth guilty in November 2017 of aggravated sexual assault and unlawful confinement of one girl during an unsanctioned grad party for North Shore teens, which happened at the Encore Nightclub on Feb. 28, 2016. The youth was 16 at the time. He found the youth guilty of an earlier sexual assault of another girl in North Vancouver on Oct. 24, 2015.
Crown prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence the teen to three years in custody – the maximum sentence that can be handed out to a youth convicted of a serious crime – pointing to the youth’s “disturbing lack of empathy” regarding the “serious violent offence.”
Defence lawyers argued the sentence should be served in the community under supervision.
In his sentencing decision, Meyers described the young woman who was victim of the grad party assault as “a very courageous woman who has suffered tremendously.” But he said he also had to consider factors like the almost three years the youth has been on relatively strict bail conditions without breaching them.
Meyers noted that as the youth is now legally an adult, corrections staff would likely apply to have any jail sentence transferred to an adult prison.
The judge added he also had to consider “extra judicial consequences” the youth has experienced, which included not being able to graduate from high school with his childhood friends and being shunned in the community.
Despite a publication ban on his name imposed by the court, “Everybody knew the buzz. Everybody saw him being arrested,” said Meyers. “It was no big secret.”
Two psychologists ordered by the court to provide reports both rated the youth a low risk to reoffend, Meyers noted, but both said they had little information to base their assessment on, as the youth had been instructed by his lawyer not to speak to them about the offences, pending
As part of the sentence in the community, the youth must complete 50 hours of community work service, must take sex offender treatment if recommended by his probation officer, must be either employed or attending school, not change his address and have no contact with either victim.
Crown prosecutor Hank Reiner declined to comment on the sentence.
Defence lawyer Joe Saulnier indicated outside the court that the youth plans to appeal his convictions on the grounds that the trial judge disregarded evidence that called complainants’ statements about what happened into question and that he refused to allow defence lawyers to call one expert witness.
Lawyers have 30 days to file an appeal.