Editor’s note: The following story is about sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.
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A former running back with the Calgary Stampeders who filmed a sexual encounter with a woman without her consent offered a tearful apology during his sentencing hearing Thursday.
But Jerome Messam, 37, also expressed some anger in his 10-minute speech about how he was portrayed and what the court case has done to his life.
“I just want to be able to move on. I see my friends on the TSN channel talking about football … and I’m like, ‘Man, that could have been me,'” he told the court.
“I see this all happened at a time when there was so much nuance and all these MeToo (movements) and all that. They just threw me to the wolves. No proper justice, no due process.”
Messam pleaded guilty to a charge of voyeurism earlier this year.
The court heard Messam and the woman followed each other on social media while he was a quarterback for the Canadian Football League team.
On November 11, 2016, they had dinner together and then had consensual sex at Messam’s apartment.
Three months later, Messam sent the woman four 10-second video clips of their sexual encounter on the social media platform Snapchat, which deletes videos after they are played.
The woman lodged a formal complaint with the police and the CFL in April 2018. Messam’s contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders was terminated after he was charged in July 2019.
In a tearful victim impact statement last month, the woman said she had considered ending her own life, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had moved away from Calgary.
Messam said he was sorry for any harm his actions caused.
“I never intended for any of this to happen … nor the level of pain the situation caused her,” he told the court.
“I’m proud of what I did on the football field. It’s bad that my career was cut short. I made a bad choice. Do I feel the punishment fits the crime? No, I lost everything in a span of 48 hours.”
Prosecutor Janice Walsh said jail was not appropriate. She recommended a suspended sentence of 18 to 24 months, which would give him a criminal record, followed by probation.
“I’m not asking the court to consider that Mr. Messam’s fact pattern is near the far end of the spectrum, but it’s not a mere observation, nor is it at the parole end of the spectrum,” Walsh said. said.
“It falls somewhere in that middle range of sentences, requiring a criminal conviction but not requiring the punishment of prison, either in the community or actual prison.”
Walsh rejected suggestions the media attention Messam received after he was charged and the loss of his CFL career should be factors in the sentencing.
“The CFL has its own conduct policy. The CFL exercised their discretion,” Walsh said.
“As for the media attention, it is inevitably and inextricably linked to the profile of Mr Messam and his previous position as a member of a professional football team.”
David Nguyen, Messam’s defense attorney, asked for a conditional discharge, which would spare him a criminal record.
“This case involves only two parties, that is the complainant and Mr. Messam,” Nguyen said. “Regarding the subject, there was no distribution, there was removal of the files and there was no attempt to capitalize or extort or use for financial gain.”
Nguyen said Messam has no prior criminal record and the attention was a deterrent. He said his client works with young children, their parents and other adults who provide physical training.
“Right now he’s working without a criminal record and he’s working without a criminal record,” he said.
“This court should consider the effect a criminal record will have on his future employment and on himself and his family.”
Messam also asked the judge to consider a conditional discharge.
“I just want to say that I pray, my lady, that you will look at the big picture and know that my rehabilitation will be greatly affected by this record.”
A judge must make a decision on December 5.
The post Former CFL player convicted of voyeurism apologizes at sentencing hearing in Calgary appeared first on CityNews Calgary.