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Conne River woman sentenced for sexually assaulting boy

Scales of justice.
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Dakota Stride-Drew told the teen he would ruin her life if he had her charged with a crime

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Warning: Graphic content in this story might disturb some readers.

A Conne River woman has been sentenced to more than two-and-a-half years behind bars for sexually assaulting a child at a party four years ago.

Dakota Stride-Drew had texted the boy after the assault, telling him that he would ruin her life if he had her criminally charged.

Stride-Drew pleaded guilty to sexual interference and was sentenced in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor by Justice Kendra Goulding.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Stride-Drew had been 22 and the boy 14 when she forced him into intercourse and fellatio, despite his protests and tears. The assault had ended when another person entered the room and told a protesting Stride-Drew to get out.

Stride-Drew later sent the boy a text message saying, "So I just heard about what apparently happened last night and if it is true then I'm really sorry. I know there's no words that can undo what happened but I was extremely drunk on whiskey and I blacked out. I can't remember anything.

"If you charge me or try to it will ruin my life."

The Crown argued for a jail term of three years for Stride-Drew, while her defence lawyer argued for a sentence of two years plus a day.

Goulding said Stride-Drew's attack on the child was particularly serious since it had involved both intercourse and oral sex.

"The victim's unwillingness and distress should have been obvious to Stride-Drew as he had his hands over his face and was telling her to stop," the judge said, adding Stride-Drew had taken advantage of an opportunity to sexually abuse the boy.

By law, a person under the age of 16 cannot consent to sexual activity with a person more than four years older than they are, and all sex without consent is a crime. Sexual activity with a person under 16 can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

"The traumatic and long-lasting effects of sexual abuse on children are well known." -Justice Kendra Goulding

Sexual crimes against vulnerable children are reprehensible and especially abhorred by the public, she continued.

The judge acknowledged Stride-Drew - who was married at the time of the assault, but later divorced partly because of her crime, and is now remarried - was receptive to counselling and believed that a federal jail term was in her best interest. She has no prior criminal record.

Stride-Drew spoke of a troubled and unstable upbringing that included alcoholism in her family, physical and mental abuse as well as poverty, and reported drinking to the point of getting drunk as young as age 11. Shortly after her sexual assault of the boy, she said, she began using cocaine and participated in sex work. She last used cocaine two years ago, she said.

"I feel the very negative and extreme circumstances of her childhood had finally caught up with her," the judge said. "While this is not offered at all as an excuse to sexually abuse a child, it does give an understanding of this young aboriginal woman, and how it has impacted her and the offence as Gladue requires."

The Gladue principle states judges must consider, during sentencing, the unique circumstances of aboriginal offenders, recognizing the adverse background and cultural impact factors many aboriginal people face.

"I am satisfied that unique systemic and background factors have played a part in bringing this particular aboriginal offender before the court," Goulding said. "If not for her high degree of intoxication on the date of the offence, she may not have committed this offence. However, the facts are very grave. Stride-Drew violated and raped a 14-year-old boy."

Goulding sentenced Stride-Drew to two years and nine months behind bars. Other than the Gladue factors, she would have earned a jail sentence of three-and-a-half years, the judge said.

Stride-Drew will be listed on the national sex offender registry for the next 20 years.

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