Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Rapist gets 11 years, says he 'forgives' victim

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A remorseless Manitoba rapist who told court he "forgives" his young female victim has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Russell Harry appeared in court Thursday to be sentenced for a spree in which he sexually assaulted the woman, then violently invaded her home and stabbed her weeks later in an attempt to silence her.

Harry, 39, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and was only convicted after a trial this year. When asked by the judge during sentencing submissions last month whether he had anything to say, Harry didn't hold back.

"I pray for the people who came against me and gave false testimony," he said in an off-the-cuff speech. "God knows everything about everyone on the Earth. He knows the hearts of men. Some are evil, some are good. He knows I did not lie in court."

The Crown was seeking 13 years in prison, while Harry's lawyer asked for between five and eight years behind bars.

Harry has an extensive criminal history and has been deemed a high risk to reoffend. Crown attorney Debbie Buors told court the only way to protect society from him is with a lengthy sentence, especially given his chilling lack of remorse or victim empathy.

"The court needs to condemn this type of behaviour," said Buors. "Obviously through past incarcerations he didn't get the message. I'm not sure Mr. Harry is a person willing to be rehabilitated."

Harry was living on the Little Black River First Nation when he attacked the young woman, who was the ex-girlfriend of his younger brother. He sexually assaulted her while another man pinned her to the ground, court was told.

The victim didn't immediately go to police. Harry became concerned she was going to reveal what happened and went to her house weeks later, armed with a knife. He dragged the woman by her hair outside, down a flight of stairs and slashed her leg while choking and threatening her.

"He deliberately attended at her residence so she would not go to police about the sexual assault," said Buors.

The two attacks have had an "extreme psychological" impact on the victim, who gave a handwritten statement to court that the Crown read aloud.

"I am always having flashbacks. I feel so ashamed, so dirty and disgusted," she wrote. "I have nightmares where I wake up kicking and screaming. I don't like how this feels. It's awful and I hate myself."

Harry has three years of pretrial custody under his belt, leaving him with eight more years on his sentence.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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