A Hazelton man has been found guilty of sexual assault involving two minors in Smithers Supreme Court recently.
Douglas Bonneville was found guilty on three counts, which were sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under the age of 16, and indecent assault.
Among the conditions imposed on him include not being at public parks or pools or places where a person 16 years of age or under is likely to be.
He was also placed on the government’s sex offender registry.
The incidents at the centre of the trial took place over a several year period from the mid-80s to the 1990s.
The victims cannot be identified due to publication bans.
“These offences are grave indeed,” said Justice Koenigsberg at the sentencing in July.
Bonneville, 57, was looking frail at court and was led away to custody using a cane for support.
While not obligated to, he did make a few remarks before sentencing.
“If I hurt anybody I really apologize,” he said. He added that he has taken steps to not be around people that he could potentially hurt. That includes his decision not to be around children since 1997 and he said he makes sure he is not around women at all.
The judge remarked in her statements that the impacts of these assaults continue for the victims as for years they told no one but internalized their thoughts.
The bottom line, she continued, is that the assaults violated a sense of trust the victims had. The hallmarks of the offences, she said, were taking advantage of vulnerable people.
While we’re unable to publish their names, a victim of sexual assault from this trial and a victim from a past Bonneville trial have asked to come forward with a statement following the sentencing.
One of the women, who was assaulted in the 80s and saw closure from this recent trial, said that this trial has proved the importance of coming forward if you’ve been a victim.
“People need to know that if someone sexually assaults you, that no matter how much time passes since that incident, it is never too late to come forward,” she said.
She suggested that if she had come forward at the start, when she was a young teen, that perhaps others could have been saved from being a victim.
She was inspired to come forward after a different sexual assault trial involving Bonneville concluded just over a decade ago.
A victim from that past trial, who we also cannot identify, was present for this trial.
She told The Interior News that she felt she may have been the only victim before she came forward with the allegations in her mid-20s.
She hopes that this new trial raises more awareness than the past trial did and might encourage women to come forward if they’ve been holding in anything.
“They have the support of the women who have come before them as well as their community,” she said.