Nunavut man faces possible dangerous offender designation
Lawyers agree only on long-term supervision
A 60-year-old Hall Beach man with a long history of sexual assault against minors faces the possibility of getting a “dangerous offender” designation from the Nunavut Court of Justice.
Only a handful of Nunavummiut have been labeled as dangerous offenders since Nunavut’s creation in 1999.
A dangerous offender is defined as someone deemed too dangerous to live in society and who threatens the life, safety, and the physical or mental well-being of the public.
Crown and defence lawyers made a joint submission March 24 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit that argues Simeonie Issigaitok fits that description.
But the lawyers managed to agree only to a long-term supervision order, one step short of an actual dangerous offender designation.
Issigaitok pleaded guilty in 2013 to two counts of sexual assault involving two boys — an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old — during a November 2011 incident in Hall Beach.
Issigaitok’s criminal record lists 19 previous sexual assault convictions, most of which occurred in Hall Beach, dating back to 1988.
If Justice Bonnie Tulloch accepts Crown prosecutor Barry McLaren’s application and deems Issigaitok a dangerous offender, she can impose an indeterminate prison sentence — a sentence without a definitive end date.
But the joint sentencing submission from Crown and defence lawyers is for two years imprisonment on top of the two-and-a-half years he’s already served in pre-trial custody, followed by four-to-six year period of long-term supervision.
“He suffers from sexual behavioural disorder — he is not a psychopath,” defence lawyer David Berg said.
Corrections Canada has discretion on where he lives after his incarceration, McLaren said.
Including his latest convictions, 20 complainants have said Issigaitok sexually or physically assaulted them over the past two and a half decades.
All complainants were children at the time, the oldest being 15.
Issigaitok has served time in penitentiaries for two or more years twice before— in 1997 he was sentenced to three years in jail, and in 2006 he served two years in prison.
A third conviction of over two years in jail qualifies Issigaitok to be declared a dangerous offender.
Tulloch said she has “no difficulties” with the joint submission, but questioned that he’d eventually be let out into the society again.
“It’s clear to me, Mr. Issigaitok has shown failure to control his sexual impulses,” Tulloch said.
Reading off a psychiatric assessment of Issigaitok done by a psychiatrist last summer, Tulloch said that he is “likely, in the future, to show a similar failure.”
But McLaren said the report also says risk of reoffending dwindles as people grow older — Issigaitok will be close to 70 when he completes his full sentence.
And the report mentions that there’s also less risk of reoffending if Issigaitok is in the south, and not in Nunavut, because his assaults were “opportunistic” and involved people he knew, McLaren said.
Berg told the court that Issigaitok is upset that he’ll probably not see his four sons and stepdaughter in Hall Beach for a long time.
“I’d be lying to the court if I’d say he’s happy about that because his family is there,” Berg said, but added Issigaitok understands why he has to leave.
Issigaitok’s second defence lawyer, Mark Christie, briefly described Issigaitok’s harsh upbringing, saying he was sexually abused three times during his childhood.
Christie said Issigaitok was born in an outpost camp outside of Igloolik and raised with his natural parents until the age of five — he then moved in with his grandmother.
Between the ages of six and eight, Christie said a teacher in Igloolik once sexually assaulted him.
Issigaitok lived in Igloolik with his grandmother until she died at the age of 12.
That’s when Issigaitok moved to a Chesterfield Inlet residential school, Christie said, where he was sexually assaulted again.
When he returned to Hall Beach at the age of 16, Christie said he was sexually assaulted a third time while working on the DEW line.
After Christie outlined his past, Issigaitok took the floor and addressed the court.
Issigaitok, a small man who stands about five foot seven inches with peppered grey and black hair with glasses, stood up straight and spoke in Inuktitut — his voice clear and loud, saying he blamed his actions as an adult on his experience with sexual assault as a child.
He said when “you become a victim” then you “victimize other people.”
“I am scared. I am very sad, I feel like crying,” Issigaitok said through a translator.
“I understand it’s a mistake, it’s a wrongdoing.”
Justice Tulloch said she will give her judgment and sentence the morning of March 28 at 9:30 a.m.