Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Judge throws youth in jail

Sex offender removed from treatment facility

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A Manitoba judge has taken the surprising step of removing a teen sex offender from a treatment facility and returning him to jail to serve a sentence for his role in the gang rape of a young woman in a "dysfunctional" northern community.

The teen, 17, was ordered Wednesday to jail, where he'll be held in secure custody for the next eight months after previously pleading guilty to sexual assault and sexual interference. It's possible he could be held for up to a year.

The first-offender had been living and doing "reasonably well" at a specialized treatment facility since being granted bail a few months after his July 2012 arrest, court heard.

The Free Press cannot identify the youth or the remote northeast Manitoba First Nation where the crimes took place to protect the identity of his victim.

Provincial court Judge Dale Schille said he recognized returning the cognitively disabled offender to jail may be "counterproductive" to his chances at rehabilitation but said the nature of his attacks cried out for a measure of punishment beyond a sentence of time served.

He and a co-accused brutally attacked a young woman at random as she walked home early in the morning. The event left her dealing with "catastrophic" psychological problems, Schille said.

The offender was drunk on "bean juice" (moonshine made from fermented yeast) and formed a plan to sexually assault a female, Crown attorney Monique Cam said.

He and the co-accused pushed her down from behind and took turns seriously sexually assaulting her for as long as 30 minutes while holding her down. In a "demeaning and degrading" fashion, they covered her mouth, attacked her and then left her in the bush, court heard.

"His actions were planned, wilful and deliberate... he admitted he was looking to target someone," said Cam, who added the additional time in jail was necessary to satisfy "societal values" that the youth be held accountable.

Three days before the gang rape, the two youths accosted a randomly targeted 11-year-old girl and took turns molesting her. The assault was only stopped when the co-accused was injured by the girl as she resisted.

The rape victim wept for two weeks straight after her ordeal, Cam said. The woman asked that her attackers not be allowed to return to the community should they attack someone else, court heard.

The offender lives with several serious cognitive disabilities after being subjected to "significant" alcohol exposure in the womb, defence lawyer Dave Phillips said. At age 10, he was sexually abused, possibly setting in motion a cycle of abuse, Phillips added.

Growing up in a disadvantaged community plagued with substance abuse issues, his father essentially drank himself to death, Schille heard. It wasn't until he was arrested at age 16 that he was offered any sort of stable or suitable environment to live in after Child and Family Services apprehended him.

After he's released, he'll serve two years on probation. His CFS worker told court the offender's been qualified to receive government funding for special-needs and high-risk adults as he'll be 18 soon.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2014 A14

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