Desharnais sentenced to six years in prison

  • Jul. 2, 2014 4:17 p.m.

Nathan Desharnais was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison following his trial in Red Deer court last week.

Desharnais, 25, of Red Deer, was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and unlawful confinement and imprisonment as a result of an incident that took place at his Red Deer home in June of 2012.

The charge of unlawful confinement was dropped by the court after the crown stayed the charge.

Desharnais, who remained emotionless for much of the trial, will serve four years and two weeks of his sentence as he was granted credit for time served. A firearms ban was also imposed as well as Desharnais will have to submit his DNA. He will also be on the sex offender registry for life.

At the beginning of the trial, Crown Prosecutor Maurice Collard said the incident was a situation where the complainant, who cannot be named as per a court order, entered into an agreement of sex for money with the accused. They had sexual encounters on two occasions, the first of which she described as being without difficulty.

During the second encounter, the complainant testified that while they first began to have consensual sex, as she was getting ready to leave Desharnais’ residence, he tied her hands, duct taped her face and choked her into unconsciousness.

She said that Desharnais told her that he wanted to know what it felt like to rape someone when she came to.

Afterwards, the complainant drove Desharnais to the bank in hopes of getting paid as they had agreed upon, but he said he didn’t have any money and she dropped him back off at his residence. She then went to the hospital for treatment and hospital staff called the police.

During sentencing submissions, Collard said anywhere between five and eight years in a penitentiary would be appropriate.

“What occurred to the complainant was degrading and humiliating. It was a degrading and dehumanizing offence,” he said, adding Desharnais used the complainant for his own fantasy purposes. “The court must provide some type of deterrence (in its sentence). It requires strict condemnation of this court.”

Defense lawyer Arnold Piragoff said that Desharnais offered an apology to the complainant as the incident was unfolding.

“He told her he never wanted to hurt her. An apology was given by my client. And the apology should be read as an element of remorse.”

Before the sentence was handed down Desharnais said he has had a lot of time to think.

“I realize that I do have some issues and I would welcome rehabilitation.”

Justice Adam Germain said that all sexual assaults are serious.

“The seriousness of these events are of the highest level,” he said. “It was egregious and frightening to the victim. One can only imagine her horror. She felt that she would be killed and there is subjective evidence to support that feeling.”

Meanwhile, during closing arguments, Piragoff said the court should consider the credibility of the complainant.

“Credibility is a key issue in this case.”

He said that the fact the complainant drove Desharnais to the bank in hopes of collecting her money points to the sex being consensual.

“You would think if she was in this great, terrible ordeal that she would want to get away as quickly as possible. She drives him to the bank and waits in the car for a couple of minutes. She could have left,” said Piragoff. “She was more concerned about being paid $150 for her services than she was about reporting it to the police.”

He added after the complainant’s testimony, the court was left with doubt in respect to whether or not Desharnais was guilty.

Germain called the case “challenging”.

“I am satisfied the complainant did not consent to being tied, duct taped and choked.

I accept the evidence of the complainant in that the accused choked her,” he said. “Duct taping someone’s mouth, choking them in and out of consciousness is endangerment of someone’s life.”

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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