An 80-year-old man who sexually assaulted three people won’t be going to jail after a P.E.I. Supreme Court judge agreed to give him a suspended sentence.
Charles Jabez Williams appeared before Justice Wayne Cheverie in Supreme Court in Charlottetown for sentencing Monday after previously pleading guilty to three counts of sexual assault.
Cheverie agreed with a joint sentencing recommendation and gave Williams a suspended sentence, along with 18 months probation.
The recommendation came after two of Williams’ victims gave tearful statements in court where they talked about the impact his actions had on them. Those actions included Williams saying inappropriate things to the victims, putting his hands inside their clothing and, in one case, touching a victim’s vagina.
A publication ban prevents the release of any details that could identify the victims.
One of Williams’ victims declined to submit a victim impact statement but two did.
The first to read her statement fought back tears when she told the court she hadn’t wanted to talk to the RCMP about what happened and one of the hardest things she had ever done was go to court and see Williams.
The victim said she had wondered what would happen if she told anyone what Williams did to her.
“I thought I was the only one and I felt alone,” she said.
But she wasn’t alone and a second victim read her statement in which she said she also didn’t want to come forward.
Her voice cracked at times as she said the abuse has affected her relationships and she has trust issues.
In making the recommendation, Crown attorney John McMillan said sexual assault is one of the most serious offences in the
Criminal Code, but Williams’ actions were on the low end of the scale.
He worked for the Nova Scotia Department of Education for 20 years, is a former industrial chemist and volunteered in the Solomon Islands for several years.
McMillan said Williams tried to present himself as a gentleman but the reality for the victims was that he created an “atmosphere of perversion” and did damage that may be irreparable. The facts of the case that were established after he pleaded guilty exposed Williams for what he is, McMillan said.
“A sex offender.”
In recommending a suspended sentence, McMillan said the principles of sentencing could be satisfied without jail time in this case in part because of Williams’s age and the fact he pleaded guilty.
The court has to consider what is in the best interests of the public and the victims, McMillan said.
Williams’ lawyer, Joel Pink, agreed with the recommendation.
Before handing down a sentence, Cheverie addressed the two victims who were in the courtroom. He said it took courage to come forward and read their statements.
Cheverie told the victims they did the right thing, not just for themselves, but for others and he hoped it would provide them with some closure.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” he said.
He also said that while Williams’ actions were on the low end of the scale, it didn’t mean they weren’t crimes.
In giving Williams a suspended sentence, Cheverie said he was bound by law to accept a joint recommendation unless he found it was unfit.
A part of the conditions of his probation, Williams was ordered not to have any contact with anyone under the age of 16 unless he is supervised by an adult who
is aware of his conviction
and approved by his probation officer.
Williams will have to provide 100 hours of community service and pay $300 to the victims of crime fund. He will also have to provide a DNA sample for the national databank and his name will be added to the sex offender registry.