R v Herman, 2021 YKTC 12

An Indigenous offender is sentenced to conditional custody to be served in the community with support from the John Howard Society, followed by probation. Although convicted of a sexual assault on an Indigenous woman, a rehabilitative approach is considered appropriate in the overall balancing of the principles of sentencing, which included the accused’s significant Gladue factors.

Indigenous Law Centre CaseWatch Blog

Mr. Claude Herman, a 42 year old man and member of the Chipewyan First Nation, was convicted of sexual assault on an Indigenous victim. Mr. Herman groped the woman, while in a highly intoxicated state. This offence occurred within the larger backdrop of the victimization of Indigenous women in Canada. This same backdrop of systemic and individualized factors was also considered in the sentencing as he is an Indigenous offender (R v Gladue, [1998] 1 SCR 688).

Mr. Herman does have a criminal record with two prior convictions for assaults, but also has significant Gladue factors. He has limited education and has had trouble with domestic violence in his common-law relationship. However, he has participated in rehabilitative programming and has avoided trouble during his incarceration. He does have remorse for his actions. Mr. Herman’s substance abuse and associated violent behaviour cannot be dissociated from the Gladue considerations.

If Mr. Herman is able to comply with the rules and requirements of residency at the John Howard Society, then there is a benefit to society in the reduction of the longer-term risk he poses, through his rehabilitation. The Court is satisfied that the victim is not at a risk of harm by Mr. Herman. There is no indication that Mr. Herman poses any significant risk of committing further sexual offences against women. The safety of the community is not endangered by allowing Mr. Herman to serve his sentence in the community, with residency at the John Howard Society and compliance with its rules and requirements as the foundation for the order.

The Court is satisfied that a fit sentence for Mr. Herman is a period of custody to be served conditionally in the community for a period of six months. Mr. Herman will be placed on a probation order for a period of one year with terms, along with a $100 victim surcharge.

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