A former volunteer girls basketball coach was sentenced to eight months in jail on Thursday for sex crimes against a child under the age of 16.
Stephen Freake, 46, pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual interference on a person under 16 earlier this year. This summer, that plea was withdrawn and replaced with a plea to the charge of sexual assault.
Freake's defence lawyer had asked for a conditional sentence without jail time, noting that Freake is a first-time offender.
N.W.T. Territorial Court Judge Donovan Molloy sided with the Crown, which had requested eight months plus two years probation.
"Mr. Freake is a sex offender," said Molloy. "He chose to ignore his trust obligations."
Molloy said the crimes were serious and "not an isolated instance of poor judgment."
The crimes took place over a period of five years, when Freake was in his late 30s and early 40s.
A publication ban prevents the disclosure of any details that might identify the young victim.
More concerned about himself than victim: judge
In summarizing the case to date, Molloy noted that Freake appeared more concerned with the impact on himself than on his victim, and said this was "concerning for his rehabilitation."
Molloy cited several cases in which lawyers noted the "horrific consequences" of the sexual abuse of children, observing that sentences for such charges are increasing generally, as the understanding of this impact grows.
The judge noted that Freake was raised in "a loving home in Newfoundland" and that before the media coverage of the case, Freake was living a successful life, working as a graphic designer and volunteering with youth sports and other community groups.
He also addressed the impact the media coverage of the case has had on Freake, noting that Freake mostly stayed home due to his "shame and embarrassment."
"Public reproach," the judge said, quoting from his research, "is not only expected but desired."
Freake's defence lawyer had suggested COVID-19 as a reason to give Freake a community sentence instead of jail time. Molloy dismissed that argument, noting that Freake is not especially vulnerable to the illness, nor is there any spread in the N.W.T.
In addition to eight months, Freake will also serve two years probation, as suggested by the Crown. He will need permission to leave the territory. He'll also have to notify his probation officer of any change of name, place of work or occupation.
Freake will also be excluded from any role, whether paid or volunteer, where he would have authority or a position of trust involving anyone 16 or younger, for a period of 10 years.