Gladue report conclusion confusion delays sentencing, again

Jared John Charles has been charged in connection with the abduction of an 8-year-old prince Albert girl. Photo courtesy Prince Albert Police.

Jared Charles’ sentencing was delayed again due to continued problems with information contained in a Gladue report prepared ahead of his sentencing.

Charles pleaded guilty late last year to kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl. The abduction led to an Amber Alert last summer. The girl was found in a rural area outside of Prince Albert, while Charles was arrested at a local restaurant.

The Gladue report included references to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But without knowing how that determination was made, or where on the spectrum Charles falls, it’s impossible to proceed with sentencing.

Gladue reports take into account circumstances in the lives of Indigenous offenders that may have been factors in their upbringing that led to the crime. In less serious cases, a report can lead to other alternatives aside from prison, including healing lodges or community-based sentencing. They do not automatically result in lower sentences, but can be used to present alternative measures, such as addictions treatment or restorative justice.

An article in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix from earlier this year indicated there is only one Gladue report writer in Saskatchewan, Christine Goodwin.

Unlike in British Columbia and Ontario, there is no training for report writing. The government has said it is working to include Gladue factors in pre-sentence reports prepared by probation officers.

Goodwin, a former lawyer, is the report writer in the Charles case. Last week, the court requested more information about the determination of FASD, such as medical documentation supporting it.

But in an email, Goodwin declined the request, saying she is not comfortable providing the information. She also didn’t answer her phone when the court called her office.

Goodwin’s refusal left Judge Hugh Harradence and the Crown and defence lawyers in a bit of an awkward spot.

With Charles appearing on the video feed, his hair cut short and silently sitting cross-armed in a chair in the Prince Albert Correctional Centre, the lawyers and judge debated their next steps.

Harradence was displeased.

“I’m not sure Ms. Goodwin is fully appreciating the situation,” he said.

“I’d really like to see this move along.”

Harradence ultimately adjourned the matter to May 8 at 9 a.m. in courtroom four. He gave defence attorney Greg Chovin a chance to consult with his client and obtain the necessary information himself.

Barring that, Harradence indicated he would consider a subpoena of Goodwin’s materials. He indicated he wasn’t too keen about trying to reach Goodwin on the phone in the future.

— With files from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.