Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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'Healer' guilty of sexually assaulting young patient

BY DEAN PRITCHARD, WINNIPEG SUN

An aboriginal healer has been found guilty of sexually violating a young patient during what were supposed to be treatment sessions.

Justice Shawn Greenberg convicted Denis Desjarlais of sexual assault and sexual exploitation. The offences were committed in 2007 and 2008 when the intellectually vulnerable victim was 15 years old.

The now-20-year-old victim testified she visited Desjarlais several times for treatment of knee and stomach ailments. The woman said on three separate occasions Desjarlais digitally penetrated or rubbed her vagina, kissed her, and groped her breasts.

On one occasion, the teen was lying on an examining table when she said Desjarlais “crawled over and put his arms around me and said ‘Think about me when you, like, dream about me.’”

The victim’s mother testified she confronted Desjarlais, who denied any wrongdoing.

Another witness testified hearing Desjarlais tell the girl, “This is our little secret.”

Desjarlais did not testify.

Court heard the victim suffers from multiple learning disabilities and is illiterate.

The trial made slow and halting progress through the court and the victim was forced to testify four times.

Defence lawyer Ryan Amy argued inconsistencies in the woman’s evidence made her an unreliable witness.

Greenberg said the inconsistencies were understandable given that the woman was unable to read her police statement or court transcripts to “refresh her memory” prior to testifying.

Desjarlais, 59, remains free on bail and will be sentenced later this winter following the completion of a pre-sentence report focusing on his aboriginal background.

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