Nunavut judge imposes maximum sentence on sex offender

‘The Crown sentencing recommendation here was unhinged,’ says judge

Nunavut judge Paul Bychok gave a sex offender from Kugluktuk the maximum sentence available for a summary conviction after overruling the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation. (File photo)

By Jane George

A Nunavut court judge has overruled the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation for a Kugluktuk man who committed a sexual assault against a woman, saying the proposed sentence was so lenient it was “unhinged.”

Justice Paul Bychok gave Joe Algiak the maximum sentence allowed, adding eight months of jail time to what the Crown had recommended.

This means Algiak, 56, receives an 18-month territorial jail term, followed by probation for 18 months, for what Bychok called a “brutal sexual assault.”

The details of Bychok’s decision were set out in a sentencing judgment released earlier this month, which identifies the victim as “X.”

During the sexual assault, Algiak broke two of X’s ribs during his drunken attack, the judgment said.

X testified at Algiak’s trial, which took place February in Kugluktuk, that she had tried repeatedly to stop Algiak as he chased her around and tore her clothes off.

The assault only stopped when X told him, “I’m going to get my nephews to hurt you for hurting me.”

Crown prosecutor Alina Seagal had recommended a 10-month jail term for Algiak — which is eight months less than the maximum penalty for a summary conviction of sexual assault.

Summary convictions are offered for less serious offences and come with lower sentencing guidelines than indictable offences.

Bychok condemned the Crown’s recommendation.

“I am certain that reasonable and informed Nunavummiut would conclude as I did that the Crown sentencing recommendation here was unhinged,” Bychok said.

Bychok said he would have sentenced Algiak to serve time in a federal prison, but he couldn’t because Algiak’s case was presented as a summary case.

He said the only mitigating factor for Algiak’s sentence is a gap of a few years in his criminal record.

The aggravating factors, meanwhile, were numerous: Algiak has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1983, including two prior convictions for sexual assault, Bychok said.

At least one of Algiak’s prior assault convictions arose from violence against an intimate partner, he said.

And Bychok noted Algiak had assaulted and injured X in a place that was her temporary shelter and entered her home without permission.

He said Algiak’s actions were “clearly premeditated,” “predatory” and “persistent.”

Bychok said Algiak pursued X and prevented her from fleeing, inflicted bodily harm on her and had consumed alcohol, “knowing that his past extensive criminal record for violence was alcohol driven.”

In his pre-sentencing argument, Algiak’s lawyer William MacDiarmid said, “I think it would be damaging to Mr. Algiak’s long-term rehabilitative prospects if he were to be hammered too harshly on sentence on the basis of his criminal past.”

Bychok did not agree: he said the “recommendation in Mr. Algiak’s case only reinforces the perception that our justice system fails to provide justice to Inuit female victims of sexual violence.”

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Our Government Justice System, and our Nunavut Politicians have failed its people again on

    Here we go again !!!
    Our Government Justice System, and our Nunavut Politicians have failed its people again.
    This cant go on !! We need to unit as a community and protest such lame sentencing for dangerous offenders whom hide behind alcohol, drug addition, and a rough upbringing.
    When is enough really enough !!
    This guy has been in trouble and abusing people in his community since 1983. Do the math that’s 38 years. If he hasn’t learned by now that what he is doing is wrong then he never will, and giving him 18 months in jail will not change him.
    Our Politicians and our Justice System need to start caring for the victims of these crimes instead of babying the abusers.
    Give him a proper sentence 14 to 16 years federal time.
    Send a message to this idiot and other idiots like him that this behavior will no longer be acceptable.
    18 months is unacceptable !!
    His victim will barley have time to heal, and this idiot will be released early, and she will have to pass by him on the street or run into him at a local store.
    Where are her rights !!
    A right to live in her own community happy and care free, her right to enjoy a good night sleep not jumping up every time she hears a noise thinking its him or another Intruder.
    We as victims can not speak out within our communities for fear of punishment from our abusers family members.
    So who will start to care and look after us ? Whom within our Government and Justice System will step forward for to care for the actual victim whom has no voice…..Who ?????????

    • Posted by Cynthia De La Cruz on

      You are right on the money. It is happening to me. Sad but true.

  2. Posted by Sad on

    Good to hear those words from a judge. Sad about the situation and result. Still cannot understand why sexual assaults are dealt with so lightly in our country when we know the long term impact on victims.

    • Posted by Gezzer on

      It’s the flawed concept of not letting a stupid mistake ruin a person’s whole life. And for first time offences it has some validity. Problem is way too many people who commit offences of this nature don’t recognize the break they’re given and simply re-commit when given the chance. There needs to be stricter sentencing guide lines when someone shows that they are a unremorseful repeat offender.

  3. Posted by Gezzer on

    In his pre-sentencing argument, Algiak’s lawyer William MacDiarmid said, “I think it would be damaging to Mr. Algiak’s long-term rehabilitative prospects if he were to be hammered too harshly on sentence on the basis of his criminal past.”

    I think that ship sailed a very long time ago. While I feel that every person deserves a chance to be rehabilitated and become a valued member of the community certain people, as in this case prove to be “lost causes” beyond redemption. At his age any length of sentence simply lets him dry out. What really needs to happen is for him be placed on permeant probation IMHO, with some sort of monitoring device.

    • Posted by Optical Illusion on

      We’ve become habituated to a system that prioritizes concern for the victimhood of the offender and believes that magical healing powers can be obtained through a combination of charitable interpretations of their actions and connection to an imagined past (when these kinds of actions were—so it is believed—completely alien). Lost in all this is consideration of their victims and the re-victimization of their victims, faintly accounted for under the delusion that by treating the perpetrator the right way that they will *POOF* rehabilitate.

  4. Posted by WTH on

    One thing I do not understand is why the Prosecution would recommend a 10 month jail time? Why wasn’t she the max plus more for his time??

    This is unreal!! The women had her ribs broken and that is all she implemented to the judge ? 10 months?

  5. Posted by Land of the Free? on

    Canada justice system and Nunavut justice system is flawed. 18-months is a maximum sentence for a brutal sexual assault from a perpatrotar with a lengthy Criminal record is insulting to the victims and their families.

    Canada: Land of the Free. As in “Free of any consequences” for our actions.

    Canada need to look at our neighbours down south, the USA, and learn a thing or two. Give someone a real jail sentence and they will think twice about committing the crime. Save taxpayer money on so called “rehabilitation” that clearly doesn’t work and spend it on decades of hard time for the criminals. Enough it enough.

  6. Posted by Oldguy on

    Wondering why the prosecution was by summary rather than by indictment, thereby limiting the maximum sentence that could be handed down ?

  7. Posted by Tulugaq on

    It’s hard to understand why the crown would proceed by summary conviction instead of by indictment for such a serious sexual assault. It’s important to understand that when the Criminal Code was amended to allow the crown to proceed summarily for sexual assaults it was because the offence of sexual assault included a number of older offences like indecent assault that are usually less serious and should not proceed by indictment because it’s not serious enough to warrant a jury trial, like a serious sexual assault could warrant.

    This case is certainly not one that was thought should not proceed by indictment given the seriousness of the assault and the offender’s record. This decision of the crown prosecutors doesn’t make much sense in these circumstances and the crown’s office should explain why they chose that way. Crown prosecutors are public servants and represent society, so it would make sense that they report to the public as to why they made that decision.

  8. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Bang on Tulugaq. It is strange that with his previous record that the Crown only went to summary trial.
    For the other commenters, this in effect handcuffed Judge Bychok to a maximum of 18 months which he imposed. His Honor was clear in his judgement that had this been proceeded as an indictment the sentence would have been much harsher and rightfully so.
    I strongly agree with Tulugaq that the Crown needs to publicly explain their reasoning.

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