March 7, 2016 11:34 am
Updated: March 7, 2016 9:09 pm

Alberta man who beat and sexually assaulted girl to learn fate in April

WATCH ABOVE: It's been more than a year since a seven-year old girl was brutally attacked on the Paul First Nation. Her injuries will be life-long and the man responsible will soon learn how much time he'll spend behind bars. Kendra Slugoski reports.

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EDMONTON – A man who pleaded guilty to brutally sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl at the Paul Band First Nation will have to wait until April to learn his fate.

A sentencing hearing began Monday for James Clifford Paul, who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and aggravated assault.

Both the Crown and Defence are seeking a 10-year sentence. The judge in the case, Charles Gardner, said he will make his decision on April 18.

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READ MORE: Accused in Paul First Nation assault on girl will not be released on bail

In December 2014, the little girl was airlifted to hospital in critical condition after being sexually assaulted and brutally beaten by Paul. Her family said she was found outside, naked and beaten so badly she was almost unrecognizable.

The seven-year-old was taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital with “traumatic injuries related to blunt trauma,” where she remained in a coma for several days before waking up.

The girl suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and now needs constant, around-the-clock care. Professionals said she also has probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“She’s in a specialized foster home receiving all kinds of therapy – physical therapy, psychological therapy. I’m told she’s in school but she needs assistance for that,” Jason Neustaeter, chief crown prosecutor in the case, said.

“She has difficulty with just interacting on her own.”

Eight victim impact statements were filed in the case. The little girl’s grandmother read hers in court Monday saying she and her children are suffering and they feel guilt.

After the attack, Paul told police he was drunk and high on crystal meth at the time. In a written report, Paul said what he did that day shocks him and if he was in his right mind he never would have hurt the little girl.

“I pray for the victim, the little girl, and her family every day,” he wrote. “I take responsibility and do not think I can forgive myself for what I did to that little girl.”

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff called it a “Shakespearean tragedy,” because it impacted two families. Following the assault, Paul’s family said they had to flee the Paul First Nation for their own safety because of threats made against them.

READ MORE: Family of sexual assault suspect flees home following violent threats

In a news conference after the attack, Superintendent Gary Steinke, with RCMP K Division said the case had a huge impact on the community and the police officers.

Paul First Nation is about 35 kilometres southwest of Stony Plain, near Wabamun Lake.

*Editor’s note: This story originally stated the girl was six years old. The crown prosecutor Jason Neustaeter told Global News Monday the girl was seven at the time of the attack, not six. 

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News. 

© 2016 Shaw Media

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