Judge will deliver sentence for sexual assault in January

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Note: Story contains some graphic content
PICTOU – A provincial court judge has asked for some time to weigh legal arguments before sentencing a 20-year-old Pictou Landing man found guilty of sexual assault. 

Maurice Julien Denny was found guilty in October of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in December 2012, but the Crown and defence are far apart on reaching any kind of agreement as to what his punishment should be.

Crown Attorney Jody McNeill asked Pictou Provincial Court Judge Del Atwood to consider a sentence that included nine months in custody followed by 12 months’ probation while the defence lawyer Stephen Robertson said his client didn’t deserve jail time.

“I am asking the court not to put this young man in jail at all,” he said during the sentencing, adding if the court does think custody is warranted, that it be an intermittent sentence so Denny can finish his schooling at the Nova Scotia Community College.

Denny was charged in connection with an incident on Dec. 12, 2012, when he visited a girl he knew at her home in the middle of the night.  The girl testified that she and Denny had “hooked up” in the past, but she wasn’t interested in being with him on this particular evening. Denny, who admitted he had been drinking alcohol that night, followed her into a shed next to the home and started touching her private areas. At one point, the girl said he had lowered her to the ground and she had to bite his shoulder to get him off of her.

Denny testified the pair kissed and he stopped when she told him she couldn’t be with him anymore because of his girlfriend. He admitted to police that he touched her vagina over her clothing, but later said he felt pressured by police to say this had happened.

During the reading of the verdict, Atwood said he found the victim’s testimony credible while Denny’s testimony came across as self-serving.

Robertson said his client understands the seriousness of what happened, but he believes Denny doesn’t need to be locked away in order to protect society. He said his client has the support of his family, is respected in his community and only has one prior criminal conviction that is unrelated to the sexual assault.

“This is a quiet young man and alcohol made him disinhibited and reckless,” he said. “He didn’t want to wait to see what the young complainant would decide. It was wrong, but it doesn’t reach the level of incarceration.”

McNeill disagreed with Robertson saying “digital penetration is considered by the courts to be a major sexual assault.” He added that a lot of “victim blaming” came up in Denny’s pre-sentence report and he mentioned that Denny’s attendance record at NSCC is not good.

Atwood reserved his decision until Jan. 13, but not before Denny was given an opportunity to address the court.

“I am sorry to take up all this time,” he said. “I can get back to school and finish it up.”

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College

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