WARNING: This story contains disturbing details
A 30 year-old Yellowknife man used "manipulative tactics" to lure a 13-year-old girl into a sexual relationship, a Crown prosecutor argued in N.W.T. Territorial Court Friday.
Tyler Smith-Tsetta has pleaded guilty to the sexual touching of a minor and breaching his conditions of release. He was initially facing 13 charges, including the creation and possession of child pornography and extortion. Eleven of those charges were withdrawn after Smith-Tsetta's guilty plea.
Court documents show that Smith-Tsetta met the 13 year-old girl in 2020 when he was 27. The two began a relationship that turned sexual. He would request nude photos of her and if she didn't respond to his texts or social media messages, Smith-Tsetta would send her videos of him harming himself.
He repeatedly bought her alcohol and even bought her a cellphone so the two could communicate. Smith-Tsetta also paid for hotel rooms for the pair to meet in secret.
In 2021, at the age of 14, the girl told an employee of her school about their relationship. Smith-Tsetta was arrested after that employee went to police. He was released in March 2021 on a number of conditions, including not having contact with the girl, not using his cellphone unless his father was present and to obey a curfew of 9 p.m.
At the time of his arrest, Smith-Tsetta was also facing a sexual assault charge for a previous incident involving a different victim. He was convicted and is currently serving a 27 month sentence for that offence.
Attempted to resume relationship after release
Shortly after his release in 2021, Smith-Tsetta contacted the girl and tried to resume a relationship, violating his conditions of release. He was, once again, arrested. Police confiscated his phone and discovered a nude photo of the girl.
"He took from her her dignity," Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane told the court. "He took from her her autonomy. He took from her her childhood."
Fane argued for a sentence of five years in prison for the sexual touching and breach of probation charges. Fane said Smith-Tsetta clearly saw the relationship as consensual but argued that belief shouldn't carry much weight when it comes to his sentencing.
"She is a child. She is not capable of coming to these decisions," he said.
Smith-Tsetta's lawyer, Charles Davison argued that he should instead be sentenced to between four and four and half years in custody. He said his client pleaded guilty, sparing the girl from having to testify. Smith-Tsetta, however, initially pleaded not-guilty but changed his plea in July, four days before his trial was scheduled to take place.
Davison said there is a possibility that his client also has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and autism.
He also said his client suffered trauma in his early life, only finding out he was adopted when he was around 10 years-old.
Standing beside his lawyer, Smith-Tsetta cried as he read a statement he had prepared for the court. In it, he apologized for his actions and said he never intended to do her any harm.
"I hope she has moved on and is able to have a better life ... I'm sorry for all the troubles this has caused to everyone," he said.
Smith-Tsetta said he has been meeting with a psychologist and has joined a bible study group. He admitted to having issues with alcohol and said he's committed to staying sober.
He said he has been placed in voluntary segregation at the North Slave Correction Centre (NSCC) because he feared for his safety after other inmates learned of the charges he was facing.
"There's no place safe for me at the NSCC so I'm always alone or in special confinement."
Judge Jeannie Scott is set to deliver her decision on Smith-Tsetta's sentence on September 8th.