This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A former junior hockey player who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl will not start his three-month jail sentence until May so that he doesn’t have to miss any school.
Connor Neurauter, 21, pleaded guilty to sexual assualt for soliciting nude photos of the teenage girl and later using them to threaten her to keep their relationship a secret, Kamloops This Week reports. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail last week, but that sentence is being pushed off until May so it doesn’t cut into his current semester at the University of Calgary.
Neurauter was originally facing an additional charge of child pornography. According to Kamloops This Week, he had a 2016 court date adjourned because he was at camp with his hockey team.
Over the course of Neurauter’s relationship with the girl, she told police that he once choked her with his hands and later asked her for naked photographs in texts and on Snapchat. Eventually, she told a girlfriend who is 14; the friend sent Neurauter nude photos of herself in an attempt to get him to leave the victim alone. Neurauter was arrested after the friend told her mother what was going on and she called police.
The girl read aloud a victim impact statement in court, saying she was paranoid that she would run into Neurauter when out in public.
“I was very scared because he knew where I lived and knew where my room was,” she said.
The victim’s mother told the Calgary Sun she’s frustrated by how many concessions the court has made to accommodate Neurauter’s schedule.
“Sorry, he’s unavailable for court because he has a hockey tournament. He’s unavailable for court because he has exams. He’s unavailable to come to his plea on his own because he’s in the middle of studying,” she said.
“Let’s postpone his jail sentence until May so he can finish a year in college. Nobody has stood up and said no, during the whole thing—there was not one time where the judge or even the Crown said ‘please, this is not right.’ The victims are the ones who have been paying over and over, every time we went to court.”
The case seems to be part of a trend through which the courts accommodate young men guilty of violence against women.
Last month, VICE reported on a case out of Newfoundland in which a 21-year-old man was given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Judge Lori Marshall said the abuser, Lancelot Saunders, will be “very successful in life.”
“You’re a young person with your whole life ahead of you and the implications of a criminal conviction, a permanent criminal record, could have longstanding repercussions for you,” she said, noting a conviction would prevent him from getting into college.
Hockey player and Queen’s University student, Chance Macdonald, who assaulted a teenage girl at a party, was not sentenced until last September so that his internship could remain intact.
Barb Macquarrie, community director at Western University's Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children, told VICE the justice system is sending the message that these crimes aren’t serious enough to be dealt with immediately.
“I’m sure it took a lot for her to come forward, a lot,” she said of Neurauter’s 13-year-old victim. “She got very minimal validation from the system. It’s almost as if the system is apologizing to the offender.”
Macquarrie said she would like to see more straight talk in courtrooms so that offenders like Neurauter understand the gravity of their actions. The alleged choking is a very high-risk behavior that doesn’t appear to have been addressed by the court, she said.
“We’re potentially missing some warning signs of somebody who could become a much more dangerous offender,” she said.
In sentencing, judges factor in mitigation and rehabilitation, though Macquarrie was skeptical that non-athletes and men of color would be treated with the same leniency as offenders like Neurauter and Macdonald. While Macquarrie said there’s no problem with allowing an offender to continue their education, “unless they really, really come to terms with how problematic this behavior is, they don’t have much of a future anyway.”
Neurauter's sentence, which includes two years of probation, will commence on May 4. He will also have to register as a sex offender and his DNA will be included in the national database.
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