A former nurse at Nunavut's largest hospital has been sentenced to three months in jail for sexually assaulting a female patient last year.

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Raymond Labrecque was working as a nurse in Iqaluit when he sexually assaulted a female patient at Qikiqtani General Hospital in June. He was charged in December, after the woman had filed a complaint. (CBC)

Raymond Labrecque, 51, was sentenced by the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on Monday. He had pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of sexual assault.

Labrecque admitted to touching a patient's genital area and kissing her breasts at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, according to facts of the case that were read out in court.

Labrecque repeated the acts for two days in a row in June, court heard.

Breach of trust

"What stands out about this case is the breach of trust situation," Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said outside court.

"One should expect to be treated in a hospital in a professional manner, and one is horrified that a criminal act would occur from a registered nurse against a patient."

The Crown recommended that Labrecque serve nine to 12 months in jail, while the defence sought a suspended sentence.

Labrecque's lawyer told the court that Labrecque already faced enough punishment, as his 23-year nursing career has been destroyed.

In addition to the three-month jail sentence, Labrecque has been ordered to register with the national sex offender database.

Nursing licence suspended

A registered nurse in Nunavut since 2004, Labrecque had been employed by the territorial Health Department until the sexual assault allegations surfaced.

A government spokesman told CBC News last month that Labrecque no longer works for the department.

The Registered Nurses Association of Northwest Territories and Nunavut confirmed on Monday that Labrecque's registration as a nurse has been suspended.

Qikiqtani hospital officials said they conduct criminal record checks on all potential employees, and they called RCMP when the allegations about Labrecque first emerged.

Accepted responsibility

It's Labrecque's first criminal conviction, but he was disciplined by Quebec nursing regulators for sexually inappropriate behaviour with a client in 2002.

Labrecque sat quietly in the courtroom during Monday's hearing. When asked by the judge if he admitted all the material facts of the case to be true, and if he understood that he will have a criminal record, Labrecque replied, "Yes, sir."

Defence lawyer Michael Chandler said Labrecque has accepted responsibility for his actions, pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Labrecque could only say he had been previously treated for depression and he was under a lot of stress at the Iqaluit hospital, his lawyer told the court.

Labrecque's court case may be over, but the territorial nursing association said it is still dealing with a professional conduct complaint related to Labrecque's actions.

With files from the CBC's Nicole Ireland