Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service’s former police chief has received an eight-month conditional sentence. For four months, Terry McCaffrey will be under house arrest. He will be subject to a 9 pm to 6 am curfew for four months after that. Earlier this year, Mr. McCaffrey was convicted of sexual assault of an employee. The incident occurred in January 2021.
“This was not a romantic overture gone wrong; it was an expression of power,” said Justice J. Elliott Allen.
Before Justice Allen read out the sentence, the victim told the court the whole process has been hard. “My healing journey is still ongoing,” she said.
The Crown had requested a jail sentence of three to five months, while defence counsel suggested a conditional discharge would be appropriate. Justice Allen was “of the view” that a conditional discharge was inadequate to meet the principles of sentencing, and that as a former police officer, Mr. McCaffrey would be in danger if placed in custody.
Although Mr. McCaffrey’s actions were a “gross breach of trust” against the victim, the police service and the community, Justice Allen said he believed it was “society’s best interest” that he remain gainfully employed. Mr. McCaffrey is currently working as a gym manager and is the main financial supporter of his family.
The court heard that Mr. McCaffrey is Indigenous but was denied legal status until Bill C-31 “partially rectified the misogyny of the Indian Act.” He suffered abuse and bullying as a child but “prevailed” with 25 years of service in various tribal police forces, including as chief of Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service.
Mr. McCaffrey has “thrown away 25 years of work in one moment,” Justice Allen said. “He has done himself more damage than any sentence I can impose.”
The conditional sentence achieved the “clear intention” of Gladue to reduce the “overrepresentation of Indigenous people in jails” and balanced the various factors under consideration in the case. The sentence also required that Mr. McCaffrey provide a DNA sample and be added to the national sex offender registry (SOIRA) for 10 years.
Mr. McCaffrey is currently residing in Thompson, Manitoba. He will be appealing the conviction.
Lori Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Manitoulin Expositor