For the second time in a week, a provincial court judge has delayed the sentencing of a man who sexually assaulted his teenage co-workers at a fast-food restaurant in Cape Breton.
David Lennard MacDonald, 25, shielded his face from cameras as he left the Sydney courtroom Thursday.
MacDonald has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault involving five female co-workers who were underage at the time of the incidents at a Wendy's restaurant in Sydney.
The Crown and defence are seeking a one-year jail sentence for MacDonald, who has no prior convictions.
Judge Dan MacRury has asked lawyers on both sides of the matter to submit written arguments explaining the sentencing recommendation in light of a 2020 Supreme Court of Canada decision known as R. vs. Friesen that said courts should impose tougher punishments for sexual crimes against children.
The top court said those crimes should be punished more severely than similar crimes against adults. Sentences of 10 years or more shouldn't be unusual, the court said.
"Given the serious nature of this matter, I believe that the concerns outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada should be addressed before the court gives its decision," MacRury told the courtroom.
After MacDonald entered guilty pleas to all the charges last spring, a pair of lawsuits were filed on behalf of two victims in the case.
The lawsuits allege that T-Roy Enterprises Ltd., the owner of the Wendy's restaurant, was negligent in failing to protect its employees from repeated sexual assaults by a supervisor.
T-Roy Enterprises has denied all of the allegations related to the first plaintiff. A statement of defence with regard to the second plaintiff has yet to be filed.
The Wendy's Company did not respond Thursday to an email regarding the Sydney restaurant's franchise status.
Out of view of cameras
According to an agreed statement of facts, MacDonald often followed his victims into areas of the restaurant where there were no cameras, such as the freezer, break room and a cubby where food trays are cleaned.
The five teens, whose names are banned from publication, worked overlapping shifts with MacDonald, who was a shift manager.
They say MacDonald would put his hands on their breasts or buttocks while hugging them. The victims never consented to the hugs, and said MacDonald sometimes hugged without warning.
In one instance, MacDonald told a victim he lost his employee card and joked that it might be down one of the girl's shirts.
He then came up from behind and grabbed the victim's breasts outside of her shirt.
MacDonald was arrested in 2020 following a police investigation.
The lawyers in the case are expected to deliver their briefs to the judge in writing on Oct. 15.
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