Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tough sentence sought for sex assault

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A former city chiropractor is facing serious time behind bars for violently sexually assaulting a former girlfriend.

Marlin Vandermeulen appeared for sentencing in the Court of Queen's Bench Wednesday.

Manitoba prosecutors signalled they want the 46-year-old to spend seven years in a federal prison.

After a 2013 trial, Vandermeulen was convicted of six charges from different events spanning from July 2009 to the end of January 2010, including sexual assault causing bodily harm and assault.

Arguably the most serious crime he committed was a brutal sexual assault on the victim at her home on July 30, 2009.

She testified she went to hospital and was encouraged by a nurse to report what happened to police but declined to come forward at the time.

Investigators wouldn't learn of the attack until months later, days after Vandermeulen was arrested for a separate incident involving the victim at the Delta Hotel.

The case boiled down to a credibility contest, with Vandermeulen denying any criminal wrongdoing.

In a written lengthy decision, Justice Colleen Suche favoured the victim's testimony and convicted Vandermeulen.

He continues to deny wrongdoing but accepts that he's been found guilty, court heard Wednesday.

His apparent absence of remorse creates a complex sentencing situation, Suche said.

That's especially so, she said, because Vandermulen is seeking a "rehabilitative" jail term of around 24 months or less with years of probation to follow.

"Rehabilitation begins by admitting you did something," said Suche. "Rehabilitation has to take a back seat when someone denies that they did it," she said.

Vandermeulen was suspended from chiropractic practice after charges were laid and he's lost his ability to practice, defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said. "He's lost everything," said Simmonds. He used to practise at a clinic in the South Osborne area.

"His clinic is gone. His income is gone. (The case) has had a dramatic effect," he said. "He's going to have to make a whole new way of life for himself."

A lawyer for the Manitoba Chiropractors Association, which governs and regulates the industry in Manitoba, was present as an observer in court Wednesday. The victim declined to submit an impact statement to the court.

Vandermeulen will learn his fate in May. He remains free on bail in the meantime.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2014 B4

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