A first time Inuit offender, who maintains his innocence, was convicted of sexual assault involving forced anal intercourse with an Indigenous victim. The Court determined that a further 90 days imprisonment and 18 months supervised probation with ancillary orders was fit in the circumstances.
Mr. Bennett, an Inuit man, was convicted of sexual assault against the complainant contrary to s 271 (1) of the Criminal Code (R v Bennett, 2020 NLSC 147). In 2017, the accused and complainant consensually engaged in sexual intercourse after meeting in a bar and both were heavily intoxicated. After an attempt at anal intercourse, the complainant protested, and the accused acquiesced. However, he attempted again and forced anal intercourse against her will and firm protestations. The complainant subsequently called the police. Upon seeking medical observation, and because she was still inebriated, she gave a formal statement regarding the sexual assault in the following days. The accused has denied any guilt, although he testified he had no recall of the events.
Her explicit communication during their sexual activity, that the accused did not have consent for anal intercourse, did not prevent her from being physically restrained by the accused who forced himself on her anyways. Women are not walking around in a perpetual state of consent from which they must overcome any unwanted sexual contact. All individuals are entitled to have their personal and sexual integrity respected. This means taking the time in all relationships to ascertain whether or not there is consent to particular sexual contact.
The accused has Gladue factors to be considered, but has been a long term relationship and has two children. He is employable as a construction worker and has had a steady work history. Despite his intoxication of the night of the sexual assault he does not appear to suffer from substance abuse. He has no prior criminal history, and now that he has been in remand, fears homelessness and significant debt upon release.
Balancing the mitigating and aggravating factors and relevant caselaw, the fit sentence for sexual assault in these circumstances is the lower range of 3 years imprisonment. A further 90 days in custody from the time already spent in remand and an order for supervised probation of 18 months with ancillary orders, is determined to be a fit sentence.