A Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., man has pleaded guilty to charges related to assault, breaching a release order, harassment and distributing explicit images.
In territorial court in Inuvik, N.W.T., Wednesday, Kelly Ovayuak was also sentenced in connection to these charges: 10 months and seven days, followed by one year of probation. Ovayuak also has a five-year weapon probation, but is able to apply to have an exception for traditional activities like hunting.
Crown prosecutor Nikita McFadden read the details of the allegations against Ovayuak in court. Territorial court was held at the Midnight Sun Recreational Complex without a sound system because Supreme Court was happening at the same time at the courthouse.
The allegations against Ovayuak began with an incident on Oct. 17, 2020. That's when Inuvik RCMP was dispatched to a residence after receiving reports that Ovayuak was looking for his then-girlfriend, the complainant, and refused to leave without her.
More than six hours later, RCMP received another call that a female, who ended up also being Ovayuak's now ex-girlfriend, was crying from an upstairs window for someone to call the police.
The complainant reported that she got into an argument with Ovayuak and he choked her. Ovayuak was arrested for assault and mischief under $5,000.
He was later released on an order that prohibited him from having any contact or communication with the complainant.
However, on Dec. 5, 2020, McFadden said the complainant was stopped in a vehicle at an intersection in Inuivk when Ovayuak got off of a snowmobile he was driving and tried to get into her vehicle. He was able to reach the passenger-side door, but she accidentally reversed her car into a ditch. Ovayuak then left the area.
Ovayuak was charged with breaching his release order.
Intimate images posted on social media
McFadden said on Feb. 17 that Ovayuak contacted the victim by calling her on her cell-phone/landline repeatedly, causing her to fear for her safety.
She said he then posted a number of explicit intimate images of her to Facebook and Snapchat. The images were screen shots from a video of the complainant and Ovayuak having sex. Ovayuak was subsequentially arrested.
In court Wednesday, McFadden told Justice James Plemmel that Ovayuak came before the court with a criminal record. She suggested Ovayuak be sentenced to 10 months in custody.
She said because of the nature of the case and that Ovayuak shared intimate images "on more than one social media platform" that "custody is the only sentence that will reflect the gravity of the events."
I don't know why you'd do that. - Justice James Plemmel
McFadden did acknowledge that Ovayuak had attended counselling as directed, and had since had no contact with the complainant.
Lance McClean represented Ovayuak in court, and talked about how Ovayuak does lots of traditional activities, helps out the community of Tuktoyaktuk and people who know him describe him as a "extraordinarily hardworking individual."
McClean spoke about how the Inuvialuk man had a childhood that was "marked by violence and substance abuse."
Sentenced to 10 months
Ovayuak was sentenced to four months in custody for the count of assault, seven days for the breach charge, and a six-month concurrent sentence for the charges of distribution and harassment — 10 months and seven days overall.
Plemmel made a point to address Ovayuak at the end of the sentencing to tell him that posting the intimate images on social media was "a terrible thing to do."
"I don't know why you'd do that," said Plemmel.
The judge said he hopes Ovayuak leaves court knowing how inappropriate his actions are.
McFadden told CBC the Crown views this as a very serious offence and echoes the judge's sentiments at the end of the sentencing.