Aboriginal healer sexually assaulted teen who was recovering from rape

By on November 14, 2014


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WINNIPEG—An aboriginal healer has been sentenced to two years in jail for sexually assaulting a Winnipeg teen during treatment sessions designed to help her cope with a previous rape.

Denis Desjarlais, 60, was found to have committed a major breach of trust for the repeated incidents that occurred between July 2007 and July 2008.

The Crown was seeking up to five years in prison, while Desjarlais asked for as little as one year.

Queen’s Bench Justice Shaun Greenberg said Desjarlais deliberately took advantage of an emotionally fragile person who was looking for help.

The victim, who was just 15 at the time, was brought to Desjarlais by her concerned mother who thought he might be able to help her work through various emotional issues stemming from a childhood sexual assault.

Instead, Desjarlais began preying on the girl by forcing her to remove clothing and submit to various sexual acts under the guise of trying to help her.

Desjarlais told the girl that “something bad would happen to her” if she told anyone what happened. She was described as “intellectually challenged” in court.

The teen eventually disclosed the abuse to friends, who told her mother. Police were contacted and Desjarlais was arrested and charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

Desjarlais has always maintained his innocence and claims the girl made up the claims, even after he was convicted at trial earlier this year.

Greenberg said Thursday that she’s troubled by his lack of remorse and insight into his crimes.

“Because of the attitude of the accused here, I have to wonder if rehabilitation can be achieved,” she said.

Desjarlais was previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault in the 1980s but claims to have no memory of either the incident or his sentencing hearing.