Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Peeper portrayed as sexual deviant

Crown calls for 10-year sentence

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A Winnipeg man who repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted three girlfriends over several years was portrayed in court Tuesday as a brutal, sexual deviant.

Russell Bruce Cassels pleaded guilty to four counts of voyeurism, two counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement.

Cassels, 32, was initially arrested in late 2009 for spying on a woman at a tanning salon in Winnipeg Square. A subsequent Winnipeg Police Service investigation found Cassels had been spying on women at night in the Osborne Village area, videotaping them through their windows as they undressed.

Three women later came forward, alleging that between June 1, 2008 and February 2010, Cassels repeatedly forced them to have sex with him, beat them and photographed and videotaped them while they slept in the nude.

At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Sharil Thomas described the offences as "crimes of serious sexual deviance." Thomas said Cassels' actions called for a 10-year prison sentence.

One of Cassels' former girlfriends appeared in court to read a victim impact statement, explaining how she fell in love with Cassels at the age of 19 but he brutalized her and destroyed her life.

"I feel my life was ruined," the woman told court. "I feel ugly, incredibly stupid and useless."

The woman said she contacted police after Cassels' arrest because she didn't want him to hurt any other women.

Cassels apologized to the woman during the hearing, explaining he has reconsidered his criminal ways and doesn't want to return to prison.

Defence counsel Mike Cook said Cassels is a changed man after spending 38 months in custody, where he was attacked several times and sexually assaulted by another inmate.

Cook said a 10-year sentence would permanently cripple Cassels, suggesting a six-year sentence is more appropriate.

In addition, Cook said Cassels should be given 11/2 times credit for the 38 months he has already served, which would leave him with another 14 months behind bars.

Provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe reserved her decision.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2013 A5

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:55 PM CDT: adds first name.

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