Former hereditary chief jailed for sexual assault

A provincial court judge has sentenced a former hereditary chief to 12 months in prison and 18 months probation for sexual assault.

A former hereditary chief from the Ahousaht First Nation will be going to jail for sexually assaulting a woman.

BC Provincial Court Judge P. McCarthy sentenced William George, 44, to 12 months in prison and 28 months probation. In addition, George is to seek sex offender counselling in prison. He’s also required to register as a sex offender for 20 years and to have no contact with the complainant.

“There is historical rampant sexual abuse of females in West Coast communities,” McCarthy said. “A message must be sent to the community that the court will protect young people from sexual predatory behaviour.”

With that, the married father of three stood silently and was led through the prisoners entrance as some of his family members and supporters sobbed nearby.

Sentences for sexual assault usually range from two to six years. The prosecution sought two years of jail time and two years probation.

The offense occurred in 2012. George and several other people drank alcohol until intoxicated at his home. The victim passed out in the bedroom with her boyfriend.

The next morning, two of George’s children heard a sound emanating from a bedroom. When they opened the door they found him on top of the unconscious victim, her boyfriend passed out beside her.

George was a hereditary chief at the time of the offense and has since been stripped of the title by community leaders. His father also apologized to the community on the family’s behalf.

George has since stopped drinking, sought counselling and completed a stay at a treatment centre. He also immediately pleaded guilty to the offense, McCarthy noted. “The accused has done everything to try to make this right,” defense counsel James Wright said.

A risk assessment report noted that George is at low risk to re-offend when he is sober but the risk increases when he’s consumed alcohol.

The victim continues to struggle with trauma from the incident, the long term effects of which are unknown. She also wrestles with guilt issues despite assurances that it wasn’t her fault, McCarthy noted.

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