Nova Scotia

Judge applauds victim's courage while sentencing boss for sexual assaults

A 51-year-old Halifax man has been handed an eight-month conditional sentence for repeatedly groping and making sexual comments to a woman under his supervision.

Halifax man, 51, handed 8-month condition sentence for 2 counts of sexually assaulting woman at work

Judge Marc Chisholm of Halifax provincial court says two female employees' 'complaints fell on deaf ears.' (Robert Short/CBC)

He was her supervisor and sexually abused her for months — repeatedly groping her and making sexual comments, all under the guise of joking around.

Now a 51-year-old Halifax man has been sentenced to eight months of house arrest and a year of probation for sexual assault — and the judge is praising the courage of the young woman who couldn't get other managers to help her.

"The victim, in spite of an unsupportive business environment in terms of her sexual abuse complaint, came forward with her complaint. This was courageous," said Judge Marc Chisholm of Halifax provincial court.

In handing down the conditional sentence, the judge ordered the man to remain inside his home for eight months. He is only allowed out to go to work, for four hours a week for personal purposes and for a handful of other exceptions, such as medical appointments.

Incident caught on video

The man pleaded guilty to two sexual assault charges for incidents during the 2015 Christmas holidays. His name, and that of the victim, are protected under a publication ban. The firm's name was redacted from the written ruling.

The woman, who is in her mid-20s, is still suffering as a result of his abuse, the judge said.

One of the incidents was caught on video — he was seen pulling her onto his lap, and putting his hand under her skirt. A few days later, he asked for a hug and fondled her breasts.

'Complaints fell on deaf ears'

The judge noted the man often remarked on her appearance, and told her he'd like to have sex with her. One time, he tickled her until she dropped to the ground.

"On at least one occasion, he opened her blouse and looked down at her breasts," said Chisholm. "On every occasion [she] told the accused no or stop."

The judge also heard from another young female employee who described being hoisted over the man's shoulder, having to fight him off as he slid his hand up her skirt.

In an effort to get him to stop, the women noted there were cameras recording the scene, but he told them he controlled the recordings, the judge said.

Victims suffer from PTSD

Both women complained to a manager, the judge said, but "their complaints fell on deaf ears."

A written version of Chisholm's sentence, handed down Sept. 15, was released on Friday.

The judge said the victim in the sex-assault case has suffered psychologically. She felt alone and vulnerable, and told him she suffers from PTSD.

"She stated that she was confused, in disbelief, fearful, uncertain what to do. The accused was a much older man, a supervisor at her workplace, who abused his position of authority," Chisholm said.

"She voiced her objection to the accused. She told the accused no, to stop. He repeatedly ignored her objections."

Man now working elsewhere

Chisholm noted the man was fired, but has since been hired elsewhere, and is even up for promotion. The defence presented 10 reference letters praising his work ethic and honesty.

The man apologized, and said he never meant to hurt anyone.

"The accused portrayed his conduct as joking around which, on occasions, went too far. He said he is not a bad person," said the judge.

"I do not accept that the accused was joking around and just went too far. His behaviour was a pattern of abuse which he knew she objected to and he continued unabated."

The man — who has a common-law wife and four children — is a permanent resident of Canada, and faces possible deportation.

The defence had sought a conditional discharge, but Chisholm said that wouldn't properly denounce his behaviour.

"Women's sexual integrity must be respected. Sentences for persons who sexually assault a woman must reflect this," he said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly said the offender was sentenced to jail time. In fact, he was handed a conditional sentence, which will be served in the community.
    Oct 23, 2017 10:47 AM AT

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