The man who sexually assaulted a woman in the back alley of Hotel Saskatchewan has been given a nine-year prison sentence.
Kenton Arnold Desjarlais, who was HIV-positive at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault.
In May 2015, the 28-year-old victim was walking in an alley behind Hotel Saskatchewan, near Cornwall Street and Victoria Avenue, when a man approached her on his bike.
Desjarlais overpowered the victim, forced her to the ground, and strangled her until she lost consciousness. He then raped her.
“It was a brutal offence. It was committed against an unsuspecting innocent stranger minding her own business. That victim could have been anyone,” Crown prosecutor Chris White said.
“It’s the sort of offence that hits really close to home no matter who you are frankly or where you live.”
In her victim impact statement, the woman talked of being strangled: “I felt like I was leaving this earth forever. I felt my body shut down limb by limb, muscle by muscle … then my mind.”
Her statement talked of fear, and a cycle of sadness that she’s lived with ever since.
“No one wants to hear their daughter, granddaughter or best friend was raped and could have been murdered. I’ve seen their terrified faces…tears…anger…and I know because I’ve seen the changes in their lives, that it encompasses their thoughts and daily routines.
“I do know the HIV scare wore heavily on their minds, and I didn’t even tell them about it till I found out I was negative, months later,” she said in her statement.
Justice Brian Barrington-Foote said that although stepping forward must have been difficult for the victim, he hoped it would not only help others, but help her find peace.
The judge called this a deliberate attack on a random victim. He noted that even though 26-year-old Desjarlais was on anti-retrovirals and there was virtually no risk of transmission, the woman still had to take powerful drug cocktails and endure a battery of tests while living with the fear of infection.
Another aggravating factor was Desjarlais’ lengthy criminal record, which includes more than 60 convictions. He was also found to be a high risk to reoffend.
However, the judge also noted that Desjarlais showed remorse and pleaded guilty, although only after being committed for trial. He accounted for Gladue factors in the sentencing.
The Crown asked for a 12-year sentence while the defence asked for five. With credit for time served, Desjarlais is expected to be in prison for another eight years.
White hoped the sentencing was some semblance of closure for the victim and her family and friends.
The Crown said it is considering an appeal.
The defence declined an interview.
In June of 2015 Desjarlais was also charged with two counts of sexual assault.
—With files from Shawn Knox