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Women raped by Sofyan Boalag address him in court for the first time

The two women don’t know each other, but held hands Tuesday as they spoke to the media, united in trauma but also in bravery.

In 2012 they were both raped by Sofyan Boalag. In provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday morning, they both chose to address him directly for the first time.
It was Day 2 of a hearing to determine if Boalag, 38, should be deemed a dangerous offender.
“I am now afraid of the dark, afraid of walking alone at night, afraid of men that I don’t know,” one of the women said, adding she had turned to alcohol to try to relieve the effects of the trauma. “I am also afraid that if (Boalag) is released from prison he might try to find me and retaliate because I reported my attack to the police.”
The other woman, who had chosen a privacy screen when she testified at Boalag’s trial, didn’t want one this time. She wanted him to look at her and show some kind of reaction, any kind. He didn’t. Boalag didn’t turn his head and stared straight ahead as the women spoke.
“The assault that I experienced will stay with me forever,” she said. “This assault was an attack against my body as well as my freedom to be an individual, freedom of being a person with rights, freedom of being a woman, freedom of being an independent woman.”
The woman spoke of fearing for her health, of walking at night and of men. She said she’s not a private person, but has chosen to keep the assault secret from most of her family and friends.
“I didn’t want people to think of me as the poor girl each time they think or talk about me,” she explained. “Knowing what happened will still devastate my parents and my friends.
“Being sexually assaulted led to a year of intense stress for me, a broken body, a broken mind, a damaged freedom and a lost soul that I have had to replace and repair.”
A third woman — who was just 15 and a virgin when she was raped by Boalag — chose to give her written statement to Crown prosecutor Trisha McCarthy to read to the court. In it, she detailed diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and dropping out of high school and attempting suicide twice.
“I am most scared that this offender may be put back on the streets and harm me or my family and friends or even strangers, honestly,” she wrote. “No one deserves to fear for their security like I do.”
The court heard from two others Tuesday. Capt. Frank Lee of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary said Boalag has earned seven internal charges since being at HMP, including two for having contraband, namely a lighter and razorblades. An officer alert has been in place since October 2014, after a source indicated to prison officials that Boalag planned to sexually assault several female guards. As a result, no female officer is ever alone in Boalag’s presence.
Psychiatrist Jasbir Gill, who conducted an extensive psychiatric exam of Boalag at the Waterford Hospital last year, testified she feels Boalag is a moderate risk to reoffend if released from custody, because his circumstances haven’t changed.
“I can’t say there has been an improvement in what I think are important risk factors,” Gill said. “I have no new information to say he’s gained insight into his behaviour.”
With more jail time, treatment and supervision upon release, Boalag could be a candidate for rehabilitation, Gill said.
If Judge Pamela Goulding, who is presiding over the hearing, declares Boalag a dangerous offender, he could receive an indefinite jail sentence.
The hearing continues Wednesday.
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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