Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the conviction and sentence of a man found guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in the Tisdale area in 2001.
Dean Trevor Edmondson was one of three men in their 20s charged in the sexual assault of the aboriginal girl.
The three were charged after a Sept. 30, 2001, evening in which they allegedly picked the girl up on the steps of a bar, gave her beer in their truck and tried to have sex with her on a road near Tisdale. Edmondson, who was 24 at the time, has been the only one convicted in the case, which sparked calls of racism from across the province.
The Appeal Court rejected the Crown's request to add time to the two years less a day of house arrest Edmondson was given for the attack. Edmondson should have been sentenced to at least three years in prison, prosecutor Dean Sinclair said.
The three Appeal Court judges agreed Edmondson should have gone to jail. But they said sending Edmondson to jail now, after he has served 20 months of his conditional sentence, would likely result in an early release under conditions more flexible than those under which he currently lives.
"Even if we were to set aside the conditional sentencing order, only about four months of his sentence would remain," the judges wrote in their decision. "Not all of that would have to be served in prison. Indeed, he would soon qualify for release it seems, so what would that accomplish? Little if anything."
Judge Fred Kovach erred when he sent Edmondson back to his community because the offence was so serious and the punishment not harsh enough to serve as a deterance to himself or others, the judges said.
"Mr. Edmondson took advantage of the desperate and vulnerable circumstances in which this young girl found herself," the judges said. "Her person, her dignity, her intrinsic worth and her child's sense of trust were badly violated and, as might be expected, she was profoundly shaken by the experience."
Sinclair said he's disappointed the court gave Edmondson so much credit for the time already served under house arrest.
"Yes, he was entitled to some credit, but he was not entitled to the amount of credit that would justify leaving the sentence as it was," he said. "A conditional sentence of imprisonment is not as onerous as custody."
The Appeal Court dismissed the defence claim that Kovach erred when he allowed the prosecution to admit an incriminating statement Edmondson made to the police as evidence. The court also rejected the defence's contention that Kovach gave incorrect instructions to the jury.
Despite dismissing Edmondson's appeal of his conviction, the Court of Appeal found Kovach made a mistake when answering some of the jury's questions. Edmondson was charged with being party to a sexual assault, an offence punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail. Parliament has designated being party to a sexual assault, where two or more people act together in the attack, as a more serious crime than a sexual assault, where a person acts alone.
The judge didn't make clear the jury could find Edmondson guilty of the lesser offence — sexual assault — a crime punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, the judges said.
"In sum, (Kovach's) directions were more apt in the circumstances to confuse than enlighten, and they ran the risk of throwing the jury off track," the judges' decision reads.
The Court of Appeal ruled Edmondson was guilty of sexual assault, not party to a sexual assault, and substituted the verdict.
Edmondson's lawyer Hugh Harradence said his client is relieved he will be able to finish his sentence in his community by Sept. 4. Still, he's disappointed the court didn't order a new trial.
"I would have thought if they'd found an error in the trial judge's instructions that one of the options is to order a new trial," he said. "They chose not to do that."
Edmondson's family hopes they, as well as the victim and her family, can move on with their lives now, Harradence said.
Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat were also charged in connection with the case. A Melfort jury found the pair not guilty of sexually assaulting the girl in a 2003 ruling that outraged her family and their supporters. In January, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal set aside the men's acquittals and ordered them to stand trial again.
Kindrat's lawyer, Morris Bodnar, said a date for that trial hasn't been set, but he expects it will be autumn at the earliest.
Tisdale Saskatchewan changed its motto in August 2016
REGINA, SK - Saskatchewan's highest court says a man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2001 should have received jail time instead of house arrest but it won't change the original sentence.
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released a decision on the Crown and defence appeals of the Dean Trevor Edmondson case, upholding the two-year conditional sentence imposed by Queen's Bench Justice Fred Kovach on Sept. 3, 2003.
Edmondson was one of three men, all in their 20s, charged with sexually assaulting the girl on a country road near Tisdale on Sept. 30, 2001.
The case has had racial overtones from the beginning because the victim was aboriginal and the three men were white. The Crown said they offered the girl a ride, there was drinking, and then she was sexually assaulted.
Edmondson's conditional sentence was a non-jail disposition to be served in his home community of Tisdale.
In the 54-page decision written by Justice Stuart Cameron on behalf of panel of judges that also included Marjorie Gerwing and Nicholas Sherstobitoff, the court said Kovach made a mistake.
"He should have sent him to jail for that period," the decision said.
"Anyone who in like circumstances takes sexual advantage of a 12-year-old girl, as desperate and vulnerable as this girl was, can expect to be sent to prison for a signficant period of time."
However, the court went on to say it would be outside "the proper exercise of our powers" to order a two-year jail sentence, noting that Edmondson has already served more than a year and a half.
Edmondson's co-accused, Jeffrey Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown were tried and found not guilty by a jury.
However, the appeal court ruled Kovach made serious mistakes and ordered a new trial for both men.
REGINA, SK - Saskatchewan's highest court has ordered a new trial for two men who were found not guilty in a high-profile sexual assault case involving a 12-year-old girl.
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was looking at the case of three men who were charged in 2001 with sexual assault after an encounter with the girl on a back road near Tisdale.
Dean Edmondson was convicted and sentenced to house arrest, but his co-accused, Jeffrey Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown, were found not guilty.
Now the appeal court has ruled the judge did not instruct the jury properly in the case of Kindrat and Brown. It has ordered a new trial.
The appeal involving Edmondson was continuing.
There was a racial aspect to the case the girl was aboriginal and the men were white.
The girl's family was left feeling angry and disillusioned.
"I'm hoping these guys are brought to justice," said a family member who cannot be named because it would tend to identify the girl.
The conviction, the sentence, and the acquittals are all under appeal.
The hearing was continuing Wednesday in Regina.
The Tisdale case has attracted the attention of groups like the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism, which is organizing a lunch hour rally across from the Court of Appeal.
On Wednesday, January 19th, Dean Edmondson, Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat are back in court.
That's the day Crown prosecutors are appealing the rulings of the high-profile sexual assault case against a 12-year old Yellow Quill First Nations girl.
"Saskatchewan received unprecedented attention across North America when Dean Edmondson received a conditional sentence of one year house arrest and Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat were acquitted for sexual assault of a child," says Norma Buydens, Research Associate for the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
"Sexual assault is a serious crime and when committed on a 12 year old, a jail term is the usual sentence. That, however, did not happen with Dean Edmondson, Jeffrey Brown and Jeffrey Kindrat," says Buydens, who is a law historian and feminist legal theorist.
Buydens says that Judge Kovatch's decision to reduce the expected term, which he and the Crown agreed was three to four years in prison, brings up a burning issue of legal injustice.
"Canadian judges do not zealously uphold the age of sexual consent to protect youth at or just after puberty," she argues.
"Furthermore, Edmondson's sentencing hearing focused on the character of the victim, just as rape trials in the 'bad old days' before the far-reaching legal reforms in the 1980s and 90s," says Buydens. "There was very little evidence of her actually saying or doing anything to convey consent but since she was under the age of consent of 14, whether she consented should have been irrelevant."
It is time for the courts to be clear that adults are the ones who have to prove they are responsible for their actions towards children, and not children who have to prove they are "good enough" to deserve protection from adult sexuality, argues Buydens.
Rosalind Prober, President of Beyond Borders, a Winnipeg-based Children's Rights organization agrees, adding:
"In Canada so often when a very vulnerable child is preyed upon by privileged adults, the fact that the child is poor, marginalized and living in difficult circumstances is used against the child as it becomes a mitigating factor instead of an aggravating factor in sentencing."
Buydens and Prober both argue that the age of consent should be raised from 14 to 16.
"In countries that have an age of protection of 16, the international norm, Kindrat and Brown would not have been able to gang up on the 12 year old victim in the courtroom and accuse her of being the sexual aggressor after getting her drunk far away from her family on a lonely dark road," says Prober. "The adversarial system and the Criminal Code of Canada are very abuser friendly."
Beyond Borders has also brought forward a complaint against Judge Kovatch before the Canadian Judicial Council which could lose him his job.
"During his charge to the jury, Justice Kovatch purposely and continually referred to Kindrat and Brown as 'the boys' and the victim as 'Ms', a feminist term usually describing women who are aware of their rights and ready to assert them."
Both Norma Buydens and Rosalind Prober will be in Regina on Wednesday, January 19th attending the Court hearing. Attached above is a Saskatchewan Notes piece with more information on the implications for children's rights with this case.
For more information, contact:
Lynn Gidluck Director - CCPA Saskatchewan (306) 924-3372
The father of an aboriginal girl sexually assaulted by a Tisdale man in 2001 has been charged with five counts of sexual assault.
The 37-year-old man, whose name cannot be revealed because of a publication ban, has been charged with sexual assaults dating from 1985-1990. His daughter was not one of the complainants.
Three men admitted to picking up the girl in September 2001 on the steps of a small town bar near Tisdale.
They gave her approximately five beers, and all three engaged in sexual activity with the girl before dropping her off at a friend's house.
Two men were acquitted and the third was sentenced to two years of house arrest.
The girl's father will appear in court Feb. 8.