Youth preyed on sleeping women
Judge implies luck kept him from facing rape charge

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 10/97) - A Wha Ti teenager branded in court by the Crown prosecuter and judge as a sexual predator has been sent to prison for 14 months.

Defence counsel Joan Mercredi tried in territorial court in Yellowknife Thursday to paint Clifford Nitsiza as nothing more sinister than an unsophisticated Dogrib whose cultural values are different.

The picture did not sway judge Michel Bourassa, however.

A mother whose three little girls were sleeping with her in an Rae-Edzo school dormitory on Nov. 19, 1995, testified that she awoke about 5:30 a.m. to find herself about to be assaulted.

She beat on Nitsiza with a shoe. Bourassa said Nitsiza was lucky that happened or he might have been facing a more serious charge.

The court has heard many times that women in similar situations are too scared to move while the man forced himself upon her, Bourassa said.

Cpl. Malcolm Eaton said it took him about five months to track down Nitsiza, now aged 19. He was working for a federal youth project at Wha Ti, but had been a student at the school when he was prowling in the women's dormitory.

Last Sept. 21, when Nitsiza was free on bail, he joined a group of students attending a leadership program in Fort Smith.

They removed a screen from a girl's dormitory room, hoping to get inside. But the occupant had slept somewhere else that night.

A few days later on Sept. 28 in Fort Smith, Nitsiza and two other students were seen at a residence for teens. He was picked up by police but gave a phoney name. A Mountie saw him throwing his wallet away and discovered his true identity.

And on Dec. 23, Nitsiza was in his home in Wha Ti and entered a home, the Crown said. A woman awoke to see him standing in her room, but a man in the house forced Nitsiza out.

For the Rae-Edzo break and enter with sexual assault, Bourassa sentenced Nitsiza to one year in jail, for the Fort Smith mischief of removing the screen -- eight months, and for being unlawfully in the Wha Ti dwelling another eight months, all to be served together.

On top of that Nitsiza must serve one month for obstructing justice with the phoney name plus another month for breach of a promise.

He'll be on probation for six months after jail.