A 55-year-old Rocky Mountain House area man was sentenced to 28 months in jail on Thursday after committing four sexual acts against two minors, dating back as far as 15 years.
Dexter Strawberry pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court to one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference while two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference were withdrawn. Identities of the victims are protected under a court-ordered publication ban.
The sexual exploitation charge stemmed from three separate incidents that occurred sometime between Aug. 25, 1994, and Aug. 24, 1998.
Chief Crown prosecutor Anders Quist said Strawberry was living on a reserve near Rocky when he persuaded a youth to consent to sexual activity involving kissing, genital fondling and oral sex.
Strawberry later committed a sexual act against a boy on the same reserve, sometime between May 1, 1999, and Sept. 1, 2003.
A victim impact statement from one of the victims was read in court. The male said he is still haunted by what happened to him many years ago and that he gets sick to his stomach and gets depressed.
It will take him a long time to get over what happened, according to the statement.
The Crown and defence issued a joint sentence recommendation of two years and four months, which was granted by Judge Bert Skinner.
Quist suggested the sentence could have reached three years but several factors were considered, including a guilty plea and 40 days of jail time already served.
“Going to jail will be difficult for Mr. Strawberry because his English is not good,” added Quist.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Strawberry required an interpreter who could speak Saulteaux.
Strawberry also has bad vision and requires medical treatment many times a day due to diabetes.
Defence lawyer Denise Lightning of Hobbema said that Strawberry also suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a now-deceased relative.
“He has expressed remorse and he desires to express this to these young men,” Lightning said.
Lightning added that Strawberry has the support of his family, many of whom were in the courtroom.
When asked if he wanted to say anything in court, Strawberry declined.
Strawberry will also be required to give a blood sample and be listed on Canada’s sex offender registry for 20 years.