The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the N.W.T. in Hay River on Friday. Jerome Bruha was 18 at the time of the sexual assault and pleaded guilty. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC) A 20-year-old Hay River man who has a history of violent offences against children was sentenced to two years in jail on Friday for sexually assaulting a minor in the summer of 2017.
Jerome Bruha was 18 at the time of the assault and on probation. The victim was 13.
In an agreed statement of facts heard in the Supreme Court of the N.W.T., the two teens were playing video games and smoking marijuana in Hay River when Bruha "lightly pushed the victim on her back," removed some of her clothing and had protected sex without the victim’s consent.
In his sentencing decision, Justice Andrew Mahar said he considered Bruha’s guilty plea to one charge of sexual assault, as well as his remorse and young age. He also noted a pre-sentence report that indicated Bruha has sought addictions treatment and anger management since his arrest.
Mahar also took into account Gladue factors into account when handing down Bruha’s sentence. The court heard that Bruha, who is Indigenous, witnessed violence and substance abuse as a child. Victim has been suicidal, court hears
Bruha has four previous convictions for violent offences involving minors.
Mahar said the victim’s "fragile and vulnerable" age was an aggravating factor in this case.
In a victim impact statement, a family member said the assault has had "lasting consequences" on the victim, who has since "struggled with her mental health and has been suicidal."
Mahar said unwanted sexual contact at such a young age can "cause lifelong damage."
Bruha was ordered not to have contact with the complainant for two years.
He will be listed on a sex offender registry for 20 years. With credit for time served, he has 15 months left on his sentence.
Bruha is back in court on Jan. 29 to stand trial on charges of kidnapping, assault, uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
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