Manitoba judge has no sympathy for first-time rapist

Court of Queen's Bench 230 in Winnipeg



WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge has rejected a young sex offender's argument his aboriginal background should net him a single year in jail for raping a teen girl so drunk she was virtually unconscious.

"My job isn't rehabilitation," Judge Brent Stewart told first-time offender Matthew Soldier, 20. "In my opinion, protection of the innocent in the community is more important at this stage."

Soldier pleaded guilty on the day of his May 2012 preliminary hearing to a single count of sexual assault for the Jan. 16, 2011, rape of a 17-year-old victim. The girl passed out alone on his bed after drinking heavily at a Winnipeg house party. She was so intoxicated she could not consent to sex, court heard.

Stewart approved a two-year federal prison sentence for Soldier to be followed by three years of supervised probation. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years.

Crown attorney Kyle Parker said his request to see Soldier spend between 18 months and two years in jail accounted for favourable features in the case, including Soldier's guilty plea, a positive pre-sentencing report, and his lack of a prior criminal record.

Stewart, however, rejected an argument from Soldier's lawyer to limit jail to just 12 months after accounting for Soldier's familial roots in disadvantaged aboriginal communities and his father's troubled background.

All criminal court judges are mandated under the Criminal Code to examine so-called "Gladue" factors when sentencing aboriginal criminals.

Section 718.2(e) was written into the Code by Parliament in the mid-1990s in hopes of addressing the dramatic over-representation of aboriginal people in Canada's jails.

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