Eight-year sentence given to man found guilty of sex assault in 1990 when he was a teen

Eight-year sentence given to man found guilty of sex assault in 1990 when he was a teen

A judge has imposed an eight-year adult sentence on a 46-year-old man for a vicious rape and robbery he committed in downtown Toronto in 1990 when he was 17 years old.

Last year, Superior Court Justice Brian O’Mara found Richard May guilty of sexual assault while armed with a knife, robbery and threatening death for the attack on a sex worker near Carlton and Church Sts. on Aug. 17, 1990. Another man who participated has not been identified.

DNA testing done in 2016 implicated May.

The sentencing decision released this week lifted the publication ban on May’s identity.

Crown attorney Cara Sweeny applied for an adult sentence and suggested a term of 10 years in custody.

Defence lawyer Lisa Jorgensen argued a maximum youth sentence of 16 months in custody should be imposed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In his reasons for sentence, O’Marra wrote that there were factors potentially in favour of a youth sentence. While May has an extensive criminal record, he has, in his 40s, “arguably reintegrated into society,” as demonstrated by his relationships with women and recent work history, the judge said.

He is also a father of four adult sons and has an infant daughter with a spouse who described him as “hard-working, honest, loving, caring and very talented.”

Nevertheless, O’Mara wrote that he is satisfied “that there is no disposition available under the YCJA that would be of sufficient length to hold (May) accountable for his crimes.

“The sexual attacks at knifepoint, including threats and robbery, were egregious. The threats caused the victim to fear for her life.”

May did not testify at the trial and denied committing the offences in a presentence report. He is appealing.

The judge included in his reasons excerpts from case law that addressed the treatment of “time lapse” in sentencing sexual assaults, including a Court of Appeal decision where a judge wrote “if the court were to impose a lenient sentence because of the passage of time, some members of the community might regard the sentence as judicial condonation of the conduct in question.”

Sweeny, who prosecuted the case, paid tribute to Toronto police Det. Ali Ansari for tracking down the victim (called S.W. in court), and encouraging her to come to Ontario and testify. In her victim impact statement, S.W. detailed the lasting impact of the rapes, and how testifying last summer had been terrifying and was “retriggering.”

“It takes police officers who are willing to go the extra mile, who realize that sexual violence leaves a wound that doesn’t heal. It’s invisible to the naked eye but infects every aspect of her life,” Sweeny wrote in email.

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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