Yellowknife man sentenced to five years in jail for having sex with three underage girls

Convicted sex offender Joshua 'Taz' Desjarlais

A Yellowknife man has been sentenced to five years in jail after he was convicted of having sex with three underage girls.

Joshua “Taz” Desjarlais, 27, who is originally from Fort Smith, was handed his punishment by Supreme Court Judge Shannon Smallwood this afternoon in Yellowknife.

She had found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault at his trial back in April.

The Crown prosecutor in the case had asked for eight years in prison but Smallwood that length of imprisonment would have dealt Desjarlais a crushing blow.

His lawyer asked for a sentence of four to four and a half years.

Smallwood said the public demands condemnation for Desjarlais’ criminal actions in which he had sex with two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old at his apartment in Yellowknife in September of 2017.

Court heard that Desjarlais had sex with two of his victims twice and the other one once.

The judge said he failed in his obligation to try to ascertain the girls ages before having sex with them.

Court heard that Desjarlais shared cocaine and alcohol with his victims before and during the offences.

Smallwood ruled that the girls were not forced to have sex against their will – but because they were under 16 at the time – they were incapable of providing consent.

The age of consent in Canada to have sex with an adult is 16 years-old.

Court heard that Desjarlais has a lengthy criminal record including 11 convictions involving violence.

However, these are his first convictions for sexual offences.

Smallwood said that Desjarlais grew up without an opportunity to embrace his Metis culture, in part because of a dysfunctional family where there was alcohol and drug abuse as well as violence in the home.

He was also in the child welfare system.

The judge did note that Desjarlais expressed remorse for his actions and has apologized.

He must also provide a sample of his DNA for the national data bank and his name will be placed on the national sex offender registry for life.

Desjarlais has been in custody since his arrest in October of 2017.

Taking into account his pre-sentence custody – he will have a little more than two and a half years left to serve.



About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.