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Former UVic student convicted of sexual assault spared jail

Jan 27 2012

A former University of Victoria student convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow student three years ago was given a suspended sentence Thursday and placed on three years probation.

At the end of an emotional, two-day sentencing hearing, Justice Catherine Bruce decided not to send Jonathan Aftergood to jail.

"I am satisfied if ever there was a case for imposing a non-custodial sentence for a sexual assault, it would this case," Bruce said.

"There is no need to separate Mr. Aftergood from society. There is virtually no risk for reoffending. He is an excellent candidate for community supervision."

Aftergood was only 18 when the offence occurred.

He has spent the past three years trying to make up for the tragic mistake, said Bruce.

Aftergood, who now attends university in Calgary, was convicted in September of sexually assaulting a young woman, who was asleep in her room in residence on the night of Nov. 29, 2008.

Both were 18, in their first year of university and both lived in residence.

Both had been drinking that night. At some point, the young woman went to sleep in her room.

Later, an intoxicated Aftergood went into her room and found her sleeping on the bed.

Although she awoke when Aftergood first began touching her, she was fearful and only stirred to scare him off, the judge found.

Aftergood was not deterred by this and continued to pursue the sexual assault.

When he tried to force her to have sexual intercourse, the woman sat up to confront him. Aftergood hid under a sweatshirt and fled from her room.

The sexual assault has had a devastating impact on the woman's life, Bruce noted.

On Wednesday, the tearful victim read a statement into the court record, describing how she went to university a determined and friendly young woman, but has spent the last three years in a downward spiral.

She told the court she left university at the end of first term and did not return until this month.

She described her anger, embarrassment and depression.

"This crime has taken away my life. I lost three years I will never get back."

Aftergood, who was also in tears, apologized to the young woman later that day.

"I will be forever sorry for everything I put you through," he cried. "I ask for forgiveness for a young man's stupidity three years ago."

The young woman left the courtroom before Aftergood finished reading his statement.

Sexual assault is a serious violent offence, noted Bruce.

She found it an aggravating factor that Aftergood took advantage of a sleeping woman who was highly vulnerable and unable to fend him off. She also found that the offence was not committed with any planning or foresight when Aftergood had been drinking a lot.

"It was a terrible error in judgment," she said.

Aftergood had no previous criminal history and is of good character, she said. A psychological assessment found that he is at low to moderate risk to reoffend. He has not had a drink since that night.

"He was a good student, a good son, an ardent volunteer. He has maintained the love and respect of a great many friends and family members," Bruce said.

Aftergood must provide a DNA sample to police. During his probation, he must take counselling as directed by his probation officer. He is to have no contact with the complainant.

Bruce ordered Aftergood to perform 100 hours of community service. Ten hours must be spent speaking to young people in community organizations and schools about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and respectful relationships.

Bruce imposed a lifetime's firearms prohibition and a 10-year mandatory weapons prohibition.

Aftergood will be bound by a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

He is to abstain from alcohol and non-prescription drugs.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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