Fort McMurray-area man gets 4.5 years for grooming, sexually abusing minor

Police were notified when the mother of the 14-year-old victim found sexually explicit text messages and images on the girl’s phone.

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WARNING: This article involves sexual violence and may upset some readers. 

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The Alberta Court of Justice in Fort McMurray has sentenced a man to four-and-a-half years for grooming and sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl starting in 2021.

The abuser’s name is under a publication ban to protect the girl’s identity. However, court documents say the abuser is from a rural community within 100 kilometres of Fort McMurray. The abuser was 24 when the abuse began, according to court documents.

The court heard the abuser began grooming the child roughly three years before the incident. The abuser knew the victim’s mother and frequently visited the home. He took the victim hunting, gave her marijuana, played video games with her and spent time spent time “flirting.”

In the summer of 2021, the abuser became drunk at the home and went to a bedroom to sleep. He awoke to find the victim in his bed. The victim said no when the abuser asked for sex, but he abused her anyways.

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The abuser said he does not remember being told no but admitted it was possible considering his intoxication. Regardless of what the victim said, Justice Jordan Stuffco pointed out the victim was not old enough to consent and the abuser knew her age.

The abuse continued until February 2022 and included sexually explicit text messages and images sent to the victim. Police were notified when the victim’s mother discovered these messages.

The Crown pushed for a sentence of five to six years. The defence wanted three years and cited his lack of a criminal record, guilty plea, age, “troubled upbringing,” and his own history with being sexually abused as a minor.

Stuffco noted in his May 8 sentencing that sexual crimes are a form of violence, that Indigenous children are more likely to be victims of violence and sexual abuse compared to non-Indigenous children, and that sentencing offenders for sexual offences against children must prioritize “denunciation and deterrence.”

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He also looked at the case through the lens of the Supreme Court’s 1999 Gladue decision, which requires courts to consider factors such as abuse, addictions, discrimination and intergenerational trauma when sentencing an Indigenous person.

As the accused’s counsel aptly remind this court, we must view this offending conduct through the Gladue lens, especially where the accused himself was the victim of sexual abuse,” wrote Stuffco.

Furthermore, I remind myself restraint is required, especially when sentencing an Indigenous offender who has suffered intergenerational harm perpetrated upon him and his community through colonialism and systemic racism. The accused did not arrive at this place in life solely through his own doing.”

Anyone with information about any missing people or criminal activity is asked to contact Wood Buffalo RCMP at 780-788-4040 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Tips to Crime Stoppers are always anonymous and can be sent to tipsubmit.com.

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