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Former military medic sentenced to 9 months in jail for sexual assault, breach of trust

Former military medic James Wilks stands with his defence counsel at HMCS Prevost, London, on May 25, 2017.
Former military medic James Wilks stands with his defence counsel at HMCS Prevost, London, on May 25, 2017. Liny Lamberink/AM980

A former military medic will spend nine months behind bars after being found guilty of touching and looking at women’s breasts unnecessarily during enrolment exams at recruitment centres.

57-year-old James Wilks appeared at HMCS Prevost in London today, where military judge Mario Dutil handed down a sentence for inappropriate medical exams involving three women in London and in Windsor in 2009.

In February, Wilks was convicted of one count of sexual assault and three counts of breach of trust by a public official.

READ MORE: Former London, Ont. military medic James Wilks found guilty of sex assault

In a joint submission, the Crown and defence asked for a nine-month sentence, and addressed Wilks’ position of power as an aggravating factor in the case.

“Mr. Wilks was a medical technician entrusted in that medical capacity to perform medical examinations on these people,” said prosecutor Adam Van Der Linde.

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“He was expected to stay within his lines.”

A victim-impact statement presented in court Thursday read: “It was a complete shock that a person in such a trusted position would prey on me under the pretense of being a doctor.”

The victim — whose identity is protected by a publication ban that applies to all victims in the trial — went on to write that she realized she was a victim upon reading a news report about Wilks’ previous convictions.

“When I attempted to inform my superior, I was unable to speak,” reads the statement. “All I could do was show her the article and manage to say, ‘This happened to me.’ She instantly broke down crying with me.”

READ MORE: Sex assault, breach of trust charges against ex-Forces med tech involve 18 women

The joint submission pointed to the repetitive nature of Wilks’ behaviour and the young age of one of the victims — who was 16 at the time — as aggravating factors in the case, but recognized the ex-medic’s charitable donations and his retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces in 2011 as mitigating factors.

“It was an appropriate sentence,” said Wilks’ defence lawyer David Hodson. “A lot of thought was put into that sentence. It serves the interest of not only the society [and] the individual, but also the community.”
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Wilks was escorted out of the military base on Thursday afternoon by military police. He’ll serve his time concurrently with a prior 30-month sentence handed down in 2013, after being found guilty of 10 charges of sexual assault and 15 charges of breach of trust against 15 victims.

Wilks appealed that decision, but a military appeals court made the decision to uphold it last Friday.

He’s already spent nine months in jail for his first conviction, where he was found guilty in December 2011 of one charge of sexual assault and four counts of breach of trust against three victims.

Wilks was never a member of HMCS Prevost, which was the venue for his sentencing hearing.