Jared Charles gets 8 years for kidnapping, sexual assault

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 has been sentenced to eight years and 90 days in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a girl last summer, as well as breaching conditions of his probation. He will receive 611 days credit for time served.

The Crown had asked for a nine-year sentence, while the defence requested five, which is the mandatory minimum for kidnapping a child under the age of 16.

Charles, 20, pleaded guilty to the charges in December.

The charges stem from an incident on July 4, 2017, that led to an Amber Alert. Charles grabbed the girl off of a Prince Albert playground when her grandmother stepped away for a few quick moments to get water.

Charles then drove her to an abandoned rural building, where he attacked her for three hours. He then left her alone in the woods with only a soda and a candy bar. She walked over 7 km to a nearby farmhouse to get help.

“The acts are horrific and every parent’s nightmare,” Judge Hugh Harradence said in court Wednesday.

“Members of this community should be allowed to go to the park and feel safe. The grandmother did nothing wrong. I can’t image the extent of her dismay.”

Harradence commended the police for their “professional and expeditious” investigation, and said the victim in this case “showed truly remarkable perseverance.

“She must be an exceptional individual,” he said, expressing hope that she will one day recover from the trauma.

Defence lawyer Greg Chovin expressed similar sentiments.

“The facts are before the court. It’s hard to characterize it as anything different. It’s horrific,” he said.

“As a parent myself, I can imagine how that would feel. But that’s only part of the equation that the court is required to look at. The court has other factors it’s obligated to consider, which is part of the process we went through today.”

During his sentencing, Charles sat quietly in the prisoner’s box, leaning back on the bench and occasionally tapping his feet and drumming his fingers against each other.

Harradence explained he had to consider two main factors, the gravity of the offence and the moral blameworthiness of the offender.

He pointed to dozens of documents pointing to Charles’ partial Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and developmental delay.

‘The gravity of the offence is high. Moral blameworthiness, the degree of responsibility, is arguably low,” he said, noting the fundamental principle of sentencing is the “proportionality” both to the responsibility of the offender and the severity of the offence.

Harradence said Charles was “disadvantaged by his background” and his developmental delays made him almost “childlike.”

Charles, Harradence said, has been seen, treated and examined by at least seven psychiatrists and psychologists. While Charles can function in society, he “needs constant supervision,” Harradence said.

Charles has accepted responsibility and saved both the family and the community from further trauma by pleading guilty, Harradence said. Citing statements in Charles’ Gladue report, Harradence said he was “satisfied” Charles is remorseful.

The passage cited by Harradence describes Charles hanging his head and seeming sincere that he didn’t want to do it again. He told the author of the report he would consider chemical castration if that would fix him.

Those statements contrast sharply from others made by Charles, such as his police statement, where the court heard he told the family he would see them in hell.

Harradence said that is a sign of Charles’ limited mental capacity, rather than a lack of sincerity.

Those factors balance against the gravity of the crime, which Harradence said “cannot be overstated.” The fact that Charles was serving a sentence in the community for sexual interference of a minor when the kidnapping occurred is also an aggravating factor.

Harradence then turned his attention to what will happen once Charles has served his prison term.

“In order to function, he will need to be supervised indefinitely … by the state,” he said, though neither Crown nor defence asked for an indefinite sentence.

Instead, Harradence made a series of recommendations he hopes Correctional Service Canada (CSC) “will take seriously.”

Those recommendations including access to counselling and treatment for FASD, as well as sex offender treatment. He recommended Charles be given the chance to serve all or the majority of his sentence at the Willow Cree Healing Lodge or at the Regional Psychiatric Centre, and that he be referred to the correctional psychiatrist specializing in FASD. He recommended contact be made with the Saskatchewan FASD network to jointly set up lifelong support and treatment for Charles, and that Lac La Ronge Indian Band is consulted to ensure programming is culturally appropriate and able to be understood by Charles.

He also requested that corrections contact Ranch Ehrlo to inquire whether Charles would be able to reside in a supervised home upon his release. He also ordered that all transcripts, documents and photos are handed over to corrections.

Charles will also end up on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life, which includes significant reporting requirements. He was also handed a 10-year firearm ban.

Outside, Chovin elaborated on some of the issues touched on in court.

“The judge considered all of the factors and … took into account some of the unique circumstances of Mr. Charles’ background, which the Supreme Court and Parliament say we have to take into account.”

Chovin said he’s’ hopeful appropriate resources will be provided to Charles by CSC and the Regional Psychiatric Centre.

“It was part of our submissions during sentencing that Mr. Charles had fallen through the cracks somewhat,” Chovin said.

“CSC deals with offenders of all sorts. I do know that over the last few years they have been completely revamping the way that they offer programming, particularly to FASD or individuals with FASD-related issues.”

Crown attorney Cameron Scott declined to comment on Harradence’s recommendations.

“They will determine their own plan. They will consider (the recommendations) and they do have enough material there that they are able to review that may send it in that direction,” he said.

“I’m not sure. That’s just speculation on all of our parts. I don’t know where they’re going to put him.”

While Harradence said Charles background was one of the most severe he had ever seen, neither lawyer indicated it was something they hadn’t encountered before.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen a lot of bad circumstances,” Scott said.

“They are troubling, but the worst I’ve seen? No.”

“Sadly, I can’t say this is the only one,” Chovin said. It’s not a usual case. There are a lot of things in Mr. Charles’ background that makes him somewhat unusual. I will not get into that. I wish I could say this was the only case that I’ve seen like this, but unfortunately, it’s not.”