GORE BAY—Sentencing for a former Cancom Security officer, Roy Preston, who was charged and convicted with the August 1, 2015 sexual assault of a junior employee, took place at the Gore Bay courthouse on Thursday, April 26 while the victim, 22-year-old Destiny Douglas, looked on.
The court heard that on August 1, 2015 some officers with the private security firm with an office in Wiikwemkoong (which had been hired as security for the Little Current Lions Club’s Haweater Weekend) camped out at the Manitoulin Country Fest grounds to be near their patrols. Some of the guards held a cookout and campfire at the grounds, with both Mr. Preston, 46 at the time, and Ms. Douglas, then 19, in attendance.
While leaving the group to gather firewood near the Country Fest stage, the court heard that Mr. Preston groped Ms. Douglas’ breast. Ms. Douglas expressed her displeasure at the unwanted gesture and noted that he was her superior and the difference in their ages. Mr. Preston noted her “maturity” and continued to give unwanted advances to Ms. Douglas.
Crown Attorney Kenrick Abbott, in his submission to the judge, said that despite being rebuffed repeatedly, Mr. Preston was relentless and, eventually, Ms. Douglas gave up. In a small sleeping trailer, Mr. Preston forced oral sex, attempted anal sex and eventually raped the young woman. The court also heard that Mr. Preston also removed Ms. Douglas’ vaginal contraceptive device during the assault from the force of his hand and caused her a great deal of pain.
The court also heard that, since the incident, Ms. Douglas has suffered a host of health problems and has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ms. Douglas shared this as part of her victim impact statement.
“Destiny was 19 and he was in his 40s,” Mr. Abbott said. “The accused to date rejects all responsibility.”
Mr. Abbott also pointed out to the judge that Mr. Preston has a previous assault charge against him regarding use of force from his time as a police officer, which ultimately cost him that job. He noted that under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act in Ontario, a security guard is not allowed to work in the field if they have a criminal charge against them.
In asking for a sentence of five years in jail, 20 years on the registered sex offenders list and 10 years’ prohibition from owning a firearm, the Crown noted that a lack of remorse in and of itself is not an aggravating factor in asking for a longer jail term, but pointed to what he called “a complete denial of responsibility.”
“He was a mentor, a teacher and supervisor,” Mr. Abbott continued. “His previous assault charge was also a breach of trust, (when he was) in uniform as a police officer.”
“Is it not more a breach of authority than a breach of trust?” the judge asked.
“I see it both ways,” the Crown responded, noting that in Ms. Douglas’s victim impact statement, she had referred to Mr. Preston as a “mentor.”
The Crown spoke of “the accused’s persistence, the number of times he was told to stop, breaching trust and authority, the violence in ‘fisting’ the victim and removing her contraceptive device and the exploitation of the victim’s naiveté” when asking for the judge’s consideration in sentencing.
Mr. Preston’s lawyer, Margaret Bojanowska, submitted a host of character reference letters to the judge, noted Mr. Preston’s many awards and certificates, his Bachelor of Arts from York University as well as thank you notes from work Mr. Preston has done.
Ms. Bojanowska asked for a sentence in the “high reformatory range” due to concerns that his rehabilitation be done close to home and his young son.
Ms. Bojanowska called the assault “a single, isolated incident with no gratuitous violence, no threats and no confinement.” Nor, she said, was it a prolonged event.
Mr. Preston’s lawyer acknowledged the previous charge of assault for which he had received 30 days served on weekend.
“This appears to be completely out of character for Mr. Preston,” said Ms. Bojanowska, according to the plethora of character reference letters that were submitted as an exhibit.
She also asked for a lengthier term of probation, 18 months to two years, with treatment and counselling.
When asked if Mr. Preston had anything to say before the court, he said he did not.
In her victim impact statement, Ms. Douglas, in a clear, strong voice read, in part “The impacts of this sexual assault have been extensive and unimaginable. What Mr. Preston did to me impacted every aspect in my life—emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially.”
“I was tasked with relearning how to live in the world and that came with many ups and downs,” she continued. “I realize now that my life will never be the same and I also realized during this process that I have an unbelievable amount of strength and that part of me will help me reconstruct what has been broken. I will build a new life for myself. I will learn my challenges and I will overcome them.”
The judge sentenced Mr. Preston to three years in jail, that he has no communication of any sort with Ms. Douglas while he serves his term, that he submits his DNA and spends 20 years on the sex offenders’ registry list, and he was ordered 10 years’ prohibition from owning or carrying a firearm.
Mr. Preston is appealing the conviction.