A 43-year-old civilian employee of the Department of National Defence has received a 21-month conditional sentence for sexually assaulting a sex trade worker and holding a knife to her throat.
After a trial, Shaun Anthony Ferri was convicted of sexual assault and assault with a weapon.
His trial heard that on May 14, 2011, Ferri engaged the services of a sex trade worker, but wanted more extensive services than she was prepared to offer. The woman, who provided a sensual massage, told Ferri she did not permit clients to touch intimate areas of her body, including her breasts.
“Mr. Ferri did not take no for an answer and grabbed at the bare breasts of the complainant, prompting her to attempt to flee his apartment,” Victoria provincial court Judge Robert Higinbotham said Wednesday. “Mr. Ferri tried to stop her escape by grabbing her hair, pulling her back into the living room area and holding a knife to her throat.”
The woman kicked Ferri, knocked him off balance and managed to escape. She was so terrified by the experience, she gave up the sex trade, Higinbotham said.
Crown prosecutor Carmen Rogers asked for a jail sentence of six to 12 months.
Ferri’s defence lawyer Steve Kelliher asked for a conditional sentence, telling the court that Ferri has no criminal record, has a responsible position at DND and is well thought of in the community.
“All of his references express shock at the nature of the charges against him,” Higinbotham noted.
The judge accepted that alcohol played a major part in Ferri’s commission of the offence.
“I am simply not sure what released the avalanche of rage in Mr. Ferri on this occasion. I suggest there is more to it than alcohol,” Higinbotham said.
Ferri elected to keep silent when asked about the offence and his motivation, the judge noted. He has not had an alcoholic drink since the offence, the court heard.
Higinbotham found the fact that the complainant was a sex trade worker to be an aggravating factor in the case.
“Sex trade workers are often impoverished, desperate and, more often than not, addicted to drugs. The courts must ensure when they are victims of crime due consideration is given to their circumstances, and the crime and its consequences must not be minimized because of the social standing of the victim,” Higinbotham said.
Higinbotham noted that Ferri expressed no remorse and was not forthcoming to the writer of the pre-sentence report, which made it difficult for the court to know what treatment or interventions might be appropriate.
Higinbotham believed the principles of deterrence and denunciation would be met with a lengthy sentence served in the community, with numerous conditions to address the unknown risks.
Ferri is not to engage the services of any sex trade worker, escort or sensual massage practitioner. He must abide by a curfew of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Ferri is not to possess or consume any alcohol and cannot be in a licensed premise. He must not possess any knife except for the purpose of eating or preparing food.
Ferri must take treatment for alcohol abuse and must complete therapy counselling for sexual offenders. He must also complete 100 hours of community work in the first six months of his sentence.