Dangerous offender status revoked for Nunavik man

Joe Kritik will be resentenced, following decision by Quebec Court of Appeal

Joe Kritik, convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage woman in the back of a police cruiser in 2011, has successfully appealed his designation as a dangerous offender and indeterminate prison sentence. (File photo)

By Elaine Anselmi

WARNING: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.

A Nunavik man convicted of multiple sexual assaults will be resentenced and have his dangerous offender status set aside, following a Quebec Court of Appeal decision that found a judge failed to order a psychiatric assessment and take into account the findings of a Gladue report.

Justice Claude P. Bigué handed Joe Kritik an indeterminate jail sentence, along with dangerous offender status, in December 2016. At the time, Kritik had already been convicted of seven sexual assaults between 2005 and 2014.

One of these assaults occurred in 2011, when Kritik raped a handcuffed 17-year-old woman in the back of a police cruiser in his home community of Tasiujaq. Kritik, who was not handcuffed in the cruiser, pleaded guilty to the sexual assault and a psychological assessment found that the woman suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident.

In August 2017, the court granted a request from Kritik for the preparation of a Gladue report, to look at his challenging upbringing and how it might shed light on his actions. The report was submitted in November of that year and his counsel presented a motion for a full psychiatric assessment at the same time.

The motion was dismissed, building Kritik’s case for an appeal heard on May 10.

“In support of this motion, he argued that the Gladue report suggested that the appellant’s behaviour may be related to psychiatric issues and that a psychiatric assessment was therefore essential to decide on the application for declaring him a dangerous offender,” wrote Justice Nicole Duval Hesler, representing the appeal court judges in the decision released on August 5.

“That motion was dismissed by the judge, which is surprising given the severe consequences of his judgment.”

The Gladue report laid out a childhood of physical and sexual abuse, and alcohol use at the age of 12. Kritik himself attempted suicide 10 times, starting at the age of 13, and lost five friends to suicide. He has suffered from seizures, convulsions and memory problems since sustaining a serious head injury at the age of 19.

“In his judgment, the judge made no mention of fundamental considerations such as the appellant’s highly problematic upbringing, nor of his suicidal tendencies, and generally ignored the Gladue report, dismissing its author as not being an expert and saying that her report contained ‘nothing specific to address a sexual offender,’” wrote Hesler.

Hesler said that Bigué’s dismissal of an order for a psychiatric assessment of Kritik before giving him the exceptional sentence of indeterminate detention and designation as a dangerous offender was, in her opinion, enough grounds for appeal.

“To designate someone as a dangerous offender … the court must be satisfied that the offender has shown ‘a likelihood of causing injury, pain or other evil to other persons through failure in the future to control his or her sexual impulses,’” she said.

This could have come from a psychiatric assessment, Hesler said, but without it, there was no measure of whether a lesser sentence would have adequately protected the public.

“Based on the content of the Gladue report, a psychiatric assessment was necessary to fully inform the court about Mr. Kritik’s future treatment prospects,” said Hesler.

On the grounds that Bigué’s decision was based on an incomplete record, Hesler ordered a full psychiatric assessment to inform a new hearing for Kritik, presided over by a different judge of the Court of Quebec.

“The judge presiding the new hearing will have the opportunity to assess all relevant factors transpiring from the Gladue report and its complement, as weIl as a full psychiatric assessment in deciding on both a designation as a dangerous offender and the appropriate sentence,” wrote Hesler.

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