New & Notable: Hoping for Rehabilitation does not Protect the Public

Mr. Ogbamichael touches women in a sexual manner while riding public transit. He has done so for many years. Most recently he was convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman on the Toronto public transit system: 2014 ONSC 1693. At the time of the offences Ogbamichael was bound by a probation order which barred him from being on Toronto Transit Commission [TTC] property.

Ogbamichael’s victim was asleep on the bus when she woke to the offender rubbing her leg and crotch. He tried to put his hand down her pants and she fled the bus.

The victim described feeling disgust and shame at the attack and an ongoing fear of using the public transit system.

Trotter J held that he had no doubt that the offender has made many other women feel the same way over the years as this was his seventh conviction for a similar sexual offence.

An earlier pre-sentence report [PSR] one prepared prior to this most recent crime, described the offender as being at a low risk to re-offend, despite suffering from the paraphilia “toucherism”.  The PSR’s prediction turned out to be wrong as this sexual assault was perpetrated shortly after the offender’s release from custody. Ogbamichael offered no expression of remorse nor any real insight into the impact his crimes have had on his victims.

Before sentencing Trotter J noted that the offender’s undeterred conduct “leaves a sentencing judge with little choice but to increase the severity of responses to his re-offending. At this stage, a disposition focused on rehabilitation would delicately rest on little more than hope, leaving young women travelling the TTC to bear the risk of this approach” [@para 16].

Ogbamichael was sentenced to an 18-month jail term for the sexual assault and 12-months consecutive for the breach of probation, followed by a three year probationary period. In so doing Trotter J recognized that:

this custodial sentence, for a single over-the-clothing subway groping might strike some as severe. However, given Mr. Ogbamichael's persistent pattern of offending, which seems to be impervious to jail sentences and court orders, a significant jail sentence is required in an effort to protect the public and to put an end to this behaviour [para 22].