Former youth worker gets three years for sex with minors

Kimmirut man violated court order and beat common-law wife

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

GREG YOUNGER-LEWIS

A Kimmirut man under house arrest for having sex with two underage girls and beating up his wife was recently sent to prison after a panel of territorial judges withdrew his conditional sentence.

Josephie Gordon Pudlat, 25, was sentenced to three years in prison by the Nunavut Court of Appeal in Iqaluit on May 18. He was given credit for six months already served.

The three judges hearing the case overturned Pudlat’s conditional sentence of house arrest, which allowed him to serve two years less a day while living at home in Kimmirut.

Pudlat pleaded guilty last fall to having sex several times with two under-age girls while he was working at Kimmirut’s youth centre from April to June 2003.

The two girls were 12 and 13 years old, and told investigators that they had a crush on Pudlat.

Crown prosecutor Marian Bryant rejected arguments from Pudlat’s lawyer, who described the sexual encounters as “consensual.”

Pudlat told police that he knew it was illegal to have sex with the girls, and later wrote a letter of apology asking for forgiveness.

Bryant said the prison sentence will send a message about the court’s zero-tolerance for people who have sex with minors. “They made it very clear,” Bryant said. “If there’s sexual assault with children, you will go to jail.”

Pudlat also pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting his common-law wife. In May 2003, he dragged her by the hair to their front porch, while their one-year-old son was watching. He kicked her while she was sitting, then bit her as she tried to stand up. The court ordered Pudlat to stay away from his wife.

But a month later, he was caught going to her house and charged with violating the court order. In February 2004, Pudlat went back again and choked her until she nearly blacked out.

Justice Beverly Browne gave a conditional sentence to Pudlat in September. In his appeal hearing, Crown and defence lawyers agreed the judges should consider Pudlat’s willingness to cooperate with the court proceedings, and his immediate guilty plea, which spared the victims from testifying.

Defence arguments stressed how Pudlat was remorseful, and had no criminal background, before these charges. A pre-sentencing and psychiatric report from his trial noted that Pudlat wasn’t a danger to the community, if he had access to counselling programs.

“Mr. Pudlat is not an aggressive man, nor a sexually deviant individual,” said Dr. Wood Hill, a psychiatrist quoted in a written defence submission.

Defence lawyer Marvin Bloos argued the judges should consider Pudlat’s own childhood as a reason to maintain the conditional sentence. Pudlat said he was molested by two men in Kimmirut when he was around 12 years old.

Bloos argued, although it doesn’t excuse Pudlat’s actions, there is often a connection between victims of childhood abuse becoming abusers later in life.

The Crown submission countered that Pudlat displayed “predatory” behaviour in his sexual assaults, because he took one girl into the youth centre washroom after-hours, committed the assaults several times over a few months, and gave her pop and candy after the act.

Plus, the Crown noted, he didn’t respect previous court restrictions when he refused to stay away from his wife. “While rehabilitation of the offender can never be overlooked,” Bryant wrote in her submission to the appeal court, “the paramount consideration. . . must be that of deterrence and denunciation.”

Pudlat was sent to the Baffin Correctional Centre after his sentencing. The Crown’s office said BCC would decide whether he would stay there or go to a southern prison.

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