Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 21, 2016 - 7:00 am

Iqaluit man jailed 24 months for sex assault on cousin

Joe Akpalialuk, 37, assaulted sleeping woman after a drinking party

Joe Akpalialuk, 37, must serve 21 more months in jail for a sexual assault he committed in January 2015, and then serve two years probation. (FILE PHOTO)
Joe Akpalialuk, 37, must serve 21 more months in jail for a sexual assault he committed in January 2015, and then serve two years probation. (FILE PHOTO)

Joe Akpalialuk, 37, of Iqaluit must serve another 21 months in prison for a January 2015 sexual assault on his cousin, Justice Brian Burrows ruled in a sentencing judgment released Sept. 20.

That decision flows from a sentencing hearing at the Nunavut Court of Justice this past July 21, when Akpalialuk pleaded guilty to the charge and Crown lawyer Benjamin Flight read an agreed statement of facts into the record.

Burrows, a deputy judge who usually serves on the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, imposed a sentence of two years less a day. But because Akpalialuk has been held in pre-sentence custody since July 21, Burrows gave him three months credit, leaving him with 21 months left to serve.

He sexually assaulted the complainant after Akpalialuk and two other people had spent the evening of Jan. 25, 2015 drinking at her house, Burrows’ judgment said.

The two other guests left. Akpalialuk and the complainant continued drinking into the early morning hours of the next day, Jan. 26, until the complainant went to bed.

When she woke up, Akpalialuk was on top of her, having penetrated her vagina with his penis.

“Initially she did not know who was on top of her because it was dark. She realized it was Mr. Akpaliakluk [sic] and told him to get off and tried to push him off, but he did not and continued for what felt to the complainant like five minutes,” Burrows’ judgment said.

After Akpalialuk stopped, he tried to have oral sex with the woman, but she told him not to.

On March 30, 2015, the woman reported the incident to the RCMP, who arrested him and laid the sexual assault charge.

At his July 21 sentencing hearing, the complainant presented a victim impact statement that said the sexual assault caused her to suffer “significant emotional distress” and jeopardized her previously close ties with Akpalialuk’s mother and sisters.

She said she also fears Akpalialuk now, and that she’s worried about the potential consequences for her family given her decision to report his crime, Burrows said.

Akpalialuk has a lengthy criminal record, including 10 convictions of assault, four of which were spousal assaults,  Burrows said. And Akpalialuk has been sentenced to jail for periods covering eight of the past 16 years, Burrows said.

But he has no previous convictions for sexual assault.

Akpalialuk also admitted to being a regular marijuana smoker and binge drinker and that he blacks out from drinking too much alcohol.

Despite that, he has never been to a treatment centre or received long-term counselling, Burrows said.

His pre-sentence report also said Akpalialuk and his six siblings suffered a “rough upbringing,” since his parents often drank and his father was physically abusive to his mother and her children.

At the sentencing hearing, the Crown sought a sentence of between three and three and a half years, citing a long list of aggravating factors and describing the assault as “predatory” in nature.

But defence lawyer Lana Walker argued for a sentence of two years less a day, a position that Burrows accepted.

Burrows also imposed a two-year period of probation, a 10-year firearms ban, and an order that he give a DNA sample to the national database.

And during the period of his incarceration and probation, he is forbidden from communicating with the complainant and her daughter.

  2016 NUCJ 24 R. v. Akpaliakluk by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd


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