KAMLOOPS - Mathew Rittinger could walk away without a criminal record for sexual assault if his lawyer gets his way.
Crown and defence lawyers argued very different positions on sentencing in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Sept. 27. Rittinger, now 25, was convicted of one count of sexual assault earlier this year for pulling a 19-year-old woman on top of him and aggressively grabbing her vagina without her consent after a New Year's Eve party in 2015.
Crown prosecutor Camille Cook said an appropriate sentence for Rittinger would be four to six months in prison followed by two years probation and called Rittinger's actions on the night of the assault "predatory".
But defence lawyer Kevin Church said Rittinger is remorseful for his actions that night, and said a conditional discharge with a lengthy probationary period would be appropriate. A conditional discharge would likely not carry a criminal record, provided all conditions are met. He also argued that a suspended sentence or an intermittent sentence would also fit.
"A conditional discharge or suspended sentence is not adverse to the public interest," Church said.
He also said Rittinger has learned from this experience, drinks very little now and has strong support from his family and partner. Cook said none of those sentences would be suitable.
"A conditional discharge or suspended sentence, the Crown says, is absolutely out of the question," Cook said. "Young women are constantly put in these types of situations, whether or not they put themselves in it."
Rittinger addressed the court and apologized for his actions of Jan. 1, 2015.
"I truly am sorry for the hardship I've caused to anyone involved," Rittinger said.
Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop found Rittinger guilty in May of this year of one count of sexual assault, but not guilty of a separate count against a different complainant.
Court heard during trial that Rittinger and two women met at a party on New Year's Eve in 2014. He invited both of them back to his house when they couldn't get a cab.
Rittinger and a then-19-year-old woman, who cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban, had kissed at the party and when they returned to his home they continued to kiss in his bedroom.
The woman testified during trial that she didn't want to continue any sexual actions with Rittinger, so she told him she was tired and turned over to fall asleep. She had just about fallen asleep when Rittinger pulled her on top of him and began grabbing at her vaginal area.
She said she told him up to 20 times to stop, and struggled with him until she was able to pull away from him.
A date has not yet been set for Hyslop's decision on sentencing.
For more on this case, go here.
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