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Crown calls for 'real jail' in dated sex offence

A judge has reserved his sentencing decision
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

A Marathon, Ont. man will learn on July 26 whether he will serve his sentence for nearly 40-year-old sexual offences under house arrest or behind bars.

Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau adjourned his decision to that date Monday after hearing sentencing submissions from the Crown and defence.

He convicted Bonaventure Sabourin, 56, of two counts of indecent assault in April, following a four-day February trial in Sault Ste. Marie.

Prosecutor David Didiodato called for a 12- to 18-month jail sentence, while defence lawyer Bruce Willson urged the judge to impose a conditional sentence, which his client would serve in the community.

The offences occurred in White River, in the early 1980s.

At the time, the young female victim was between the age of 10 and 13.

Sabourin was 18 to 20 years of age.

Gareau found the accused touched the complainant inappropriately, over and under her clothing, and attempted to make her perform oral sex.

A publication ban prohibits reporting any information that could identify the complainant.

Didiodato argued that a conditional sentence is not appropriate and Sabourin should do time in "real jail."

The assistant Crown attorney pointed to Sabourin's lack of remorse, outlined in a pre-sentence report, as a "significant" aggravating factor, along with the impact his actions have had on the victim.

The understanding of the consequences of the effects of sexual assaults on children are different today than in the 1980s, Didiodato said.

These effects include physical and psychological harm, as well as an inability when they become adults to have loving relationships with other adults.

He described the first incident of abuse as at "the low end of the scale," while the second, with the attempt to force oral sex, is at the higher end.

Sabourin's behaviour was escalating, Dididato noted.

Willson said he doesn't think the offences call out for a custodial sentence.

However, if the court feels a conditional sentence doesn't meet the principle of denunciation - an important issue here - he asked Gareau to consider "a short, sharp" jail term, such as an intermittent sentence.

This would preserve Sabourin's employment as he nears retirement, Willson said.

Although his client is not educated, "he has always worked and has nine more years until he can retire," the defence said.

He argued that the court is dealing with two isolated incidents, the first of which occurred in a closet when the pair was involved in a game of hide and seek.

The second happened when he was under the influence of marijuana, as was the complainant, Willson said.

He maintained the ages of the complainant and accused are important, suggesting Sabourin could have been a teenager at the time of the incidents.

His client was just beyond the Young Offenders Act, calling Sabourin "an adult, youthful first time offender."

The complainant was on "the cusp of being a teenager," he argued, suggesting there was no planning involved with what had occurred.

Didiodato countered that the marijuana is not a mitigating factor as suggested by the defence, "Giving a 10-to-12-year-old child marijuana and assaulting her is aggravating," he maintained.

Sabourin also should be placed on probation for three years, with a condition that he take any recommended counselling, particularly for sexual violence, Didiodato said.

As well, he should be ordered to provide a DNA sample for the national database and to register as a sex offender for 20 years, the Crown urged.

Since Sabourin is convicted of offences involving a person under the age of 16, Didiodato asked that he be prohibited from certain activities that could bring him into contact with those under that age.

This would include not going to public parks or swimming areas, daycare centres, schoolyards, playgrounds or community centres.

When asked if he had anything to say, Sabourin told the judge "my lawyer said it all."

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 35 years.
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