A Newfoundland and Labrador man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for sexually assaulting a colleague at work.
The man, SH, was criminally convicted of sexually assaulting the woman. While she was bent over from the waist, with her head, arms, and torso in a container of clams, he touched her backside and then tried to make a joke of it.
The Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador noted that SH was not a first offender. He has a criminal record, including convictions for assault, breach of probation and breach of undertaking. There are also convictions for mischief and one for failing to attend court — though all the convictions were at least a decade old, it said.
He was 44 and married, and lost his job as a result of the sexual assault.
The court listed a number of aggravating factors in this case, including:
- the assault happened at the victim’s workplace
- the accused was old enough to be her father
- the accused was senior to her on staff
- the victim was in a vulnerable position when she was assaulted
- the accused was not a first offender
- previous sentences, including a suspended sentence and conditional discharge, failed to deter him.
It said there were no mitigating factors to take into account.
The woman filed a statement that made it clear the assault had a significant impact on her, including experiencing fear, anxiety and panic.
The court’s ruling
The court said sexual harassment and assault are “not to be tolerated in the workplace, because it not only harms the victim, but it also poisons the work environment.”
“This offence merits a custodial term, long enough that the accused and others of a like mind will know that Canadian society will not tolerate sexual assault in the workplace,” it said.
A conditional sentence, though an option, would not meet the goal of giving a clear message to others who might consider a similar offence that the workplace is a safe environment for all employees, it said.
SH was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and given credit of 1.5 days for each day he spent in pre-trial custody.
It also ordered SH to provide DNA samples to police and comply with the sex offender registration for 10 years. He was also placed on probation for 12 months upon release from prison.
In addition, he was ordered to attend counselling, including but not limited to counselling for workplace respect and sexual assault and to have no contact with the victim.
For more information, see R v Hillier (Sentence), 2023 CanLII 41441 (NL PC)