A weekends-only sentence for a man who told his victim she "looked like she just got raped" will further deter sexual assault victims from coming forward, a rape centre worker said Friday.
“It is disheartening,” said Jackie Stevens, the executive director of Avalon Centre, a sexual assault centre in Halifax.
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court gave Mitchell Leeander Goodwin a 90-day intermittent sentence Thursday for a sexual assault that took place in 2012, CBC News reported.
Goodwin drank half a bottle of rum, and threatened the woman after taking her cellphone away, the court heard. When she tried to leave, he allegedly dragged her back into the room by her hair, according to CBC News. The judge presiding called details of the case “disturbing.”
“It re-traumatizes other people who have had similar experiences with the criminal justice process, or people who have been sexually assaulted and are trying to decide what to do,” Stevens told The Huffington Post Canada. “It deters them from wanting to report to police.”
“It deters them from wanting to report to police.”
Nova Scotia has lower sentencing rates for sexual assault than other parts of the country, Stevens said. Cases like this will only make that worse, she added.
Intermittent sentences — otherwise known as weekend jail — are only given for sentences 90 days or less. The offender’s crime, character, and factors including work, school, and family are supposed to be considered by the judge, according to the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia.
This sentence tells the public that sexual violence isn’t taken all that seriously by the courts, and it discourages other survivors from coming forward, Stevens said.
Only about 12 per cent of sexual assaults are reported to police, Statistics Canada estimates. In Nova Scotia, 700 sexual assaults were reported to police in 2010, according to Avalon Centre. But StatCan reports that only 33 people were actually convicted of sexual assault in the province in the 2013/2014 year.
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