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News Report

Ex-Officer Appeals Sex Assault Conviction

SASKATOON  —  A former Saskatoon police sergeant convicted of sexually assaulting the female victim of a sexual assault he was investigating was released from jail Wednesday, after his lawyer filed an appeal of his sentence.

Sgt. James Bracken
Sgt. James Bracken Convicted of sexual assault of a minor, Bracken seeks to appeal his nine-month jail sentence. Bracken's remorse was hollow, voiced when he expected a mere slap on the wrist: a conditional sentence such as community service or house arrest. Court: That is not a viable sentencing option for persons in authority who abuse their trust.

James Bracken, 55, pleaded guilty to groping the breast of an 18-year-old sexual assault victim while they were in his police car in February. He was sentenced last Friday to nine months in jail.

"He's out until the Court of Appeal sets a date," lawyer Jay Watson said Wednesday.

That date will probably be "a few months anyway. At least four, I would think," Watson said.

Crown prosecutor Anthony Gerein said the Crown agreed to Bracken's release until the appeal is heard. It is not unusual to release a convicted person who is appealing a sentence without first holding a bail hearing when the sentence is relatively short and would likely be almost over by the time the appeal is heard, he said.

In his appeal, Bracken claims provincial court Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond erred in concluding that conditional sentences are not a viable sentencing option in Saskatchewan for persons in positions of authority who breach their responsibility in committing a sexual assault.

The appeal also claims the judge erred by not asking Bracken if he wanted to address the court before she imposed his sentence. Turpel-Lafond did invite Bracken to speak, but she had already written her sentence decision, Watson said.

The judge also mistakenly believed that Watson's position was that a jail sentence was appropriate, the appeal says.

Read the full legal decision:   R. v. Bracken 2005 SKPC 64

Original Star Phoenix News Clipping

Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 30 June 2005 (page A8)

News Clip / Ex-officer appeals sex assault conviction