Halifax judge lauds ‘courageous’ sexual abuse victim, sentences her supervisor to 8 months

Halifax provincial court pictured on Aug. 7, 2017.
Halifax provincial court pictured on Aug. 7, 2017. Paul DeWitt / Global News

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 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.

Chisholm handed down a sentence of eight months’ incarceration to be served conditionally. The judge said he would take submissions on those conditions but such a sentence often entails house arrest.

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The man pleaded guilty to two sex-assault charges, for incidents during the 2015 Christmas holidays.

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His name, and that of the victim, are protected under a publication ban. The firm’s name was redacted from the written ruling.

The young woman, who is in her mid-20s, is still suffering from 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.

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.

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“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.

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

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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.”

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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 accused – 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.

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