'A wound that will never heal': Crown seeks 22-year sentence for former bar employee convicted of sex assault
EDMONTON -- Warning: this story contains disturbing details.
The Crown is seeking a sentence in excess of 22 years for Matthew McKnight, a former Edmonton bar employee convicted of five counts of sexual assault.
The sentencing hearing for McKnight began Wednesday morning in Edmonton and is scheduled to last three days.
McKnight was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women from 2010 until 2016, when he worked at Knoxville's Tavern.
In January, a jury convicted McKnight on five of 13 counts after he had plead not guilty.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS
Two of the victims and four family members, including the sister of a third victim, spoke at the start of McKnight's sentencing hearing in Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday.
The victim's identities are protected by a publication ban.
"You may not remember me, but I remember you," said one victim, crying as she faced her attacker.
"You'll never know what its like to be a victim of a sexual assault. It's a wound that will never heal."
Another victim told the court she has become so fearful since the sexual assault she considered suicide and is afraid to leave the house.
"That there were men out there just like you," she said.
"The biggest thing you have taken from me, Mr. McKnight, is my ability and willingness to trust anyone."
At least two more of the victims are scheduled to address the hearing.
'DENOUNCE AND DETER'
Prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said the offences are gravely serious and McKnight's moral responsibility is huge in what he described as drug-facilitated sex assaults.
He said the judge must “denounce and deter” the vile abuse of the five women, and called the sentencing an "unique opportunity to denounce and deter."
“These are gravely serious offences and Mr. McKnight's degree of moral responsibility is high,” said Huyser-Wierenga during in his opening submission.
“He's a man who has had a privileged upbringing in many ways.”
Prosecutors are seeking a 22 1/2 year sentence for McKnight, with the time for each guilty count to be served concurrently.
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos is to give his submissions Thursday.
Prosecutors believe McKnight's lawyers will reference a 2016 assault McKnight at the Edmonton Remand Centre as "collateral consequences" in favour of a lighter sentence.
The hearing resumes Thursday at 10 a.m.
With files from the Canadian Press