Old Saskatchewan. Caregiver accused of historic sexual assault released

Brent Gabona, 52, is charged with sexually assaulting five people at Shepherd’s Villa in Hepburn, Saskatchewan. retirement home for people with disabilities.

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Paul and his brother Jack love to listen to country music as they travel the back roads of rural Alberta, watching the mountains and the birds.

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The car is a calming place for Jack, who suffers from autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and is blind. It’s also a distraction for Paul after learning that the man accused of sexually assaulting Jack in a Saskatchewan nursing home was recently released.

Paul and Jack are not their real names. A court-ordered publication ban prevents reporting of any details that could definitively identify an alleged sexual assault victim.

Paul said the weight of the allegation was too much for him to bear.

“We need to speak, not just for my brother, but for the other residents who lived there who couldn’t speak for themselves then, and can’t speak for themselves now,” said he declared.

In a news release, the RCMP confirmed they received a report on April 19 of sexual assaults in Hepburn, Saskatchewan. nursing home. Paul said he was told a A former carer at Shepherd’s Villa – the group home where Jack lived for many years – has been charged with sexually assaulting five people, including his brother.

He got the call from the police on Jack’s birthday.

” I lost my balance. I couldn’t think straight but I had to go on a happy day with my brother and my instinct was to crawl into a corner and cry,” he said.

RELEASE OF CONSENT

Brent James Gabona, a 52-year-old man from Waldheim, Saskatchewan, faces five counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability between 1992 and 2009, when Gabona quit working at the nursing home.

Paul said only his brother and another alleged victim are still alive, which is confirmed by obituaries.

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Gabona was released on Crown consent on his first appearance in Saskatoon Provincial Court on May 13. His release conditions are listed in court documents and include living in an approved home, having no contact with his alleged victims and not going to Shepherd’s Villa.

Gabona “cannot be in the presence of any SARCAN employee, whether in Waldheim or Martensville, except with a supervisor who is aware of the charges” and can only be with her children in the presence of their mother, specify the documents.

The condition was put in place because Gabona was an employee of SARCAN before being charged. In a press release issued on May 13, SARCAN confirmed that Gabona is no longer an employee and that none of the charges are related to his time at SARCAN.

“To me, releasing an alleged sexual predator sends the message that this case isn’t horrible enough, that (the) alleged victims are somehow less or would have suffered less because of their challenges,” Paul said. .

Accused persons are detained if there is a risk that they will not appear in court, that they will reoffend, or that their release will seriously damage the public’s perception of the justice system.

Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa said Gabona’s release conditions were designed to ensure the protection of vulnerable people.

“If we consent to someone’s release, we have to make sure the issue of public safety is addressed, and I think with these extremely strict conditions we are doing just that,” she said.

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THE STORY

Shepherd’s Villa is a non-profit registered charity that provides accommodation for people with special needs, according to several charity websites.

The retirement home looks like an ordinary house on a quiet street, with a long wheelchair ramp in front. Paul said about five or six residents live there at a time.

It was hard to find a place for someone with Jack’s challenges in the 1980s, so his brother was first sent to live in an institution in Moose Jaw, he said.

“My parents were horrified by the conditions and continued to fight for Jack to live in the community. They were so happy when Shepherd’s Villa said they would take Jack. We thought Shepherd’s Villa was a lifeline for Jack,’ he said.

“We had no idea this would have happened. »

Neither is Shepherd’s Villa, according to general manager Jean-Yves Marsolais. In an emailed statement, he said the care home was unaware of the alleged abuse, was cooperating with the RCMP investigation and was conducting its own investigation.

Paul confirmed that the sexual assault allegations did not come directly from his brother, who is mostly non-verbal.

Jack was moved to another care home in Alberta after being kicked out of Shepherd’s Villa in 2014 for ‘acting out’. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Paul became her full-time carer.

“I always tried to do everything to protect him. I thought so, and it completely surprised me,” Paul said, his voice cracking with sobbing.

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“It broke my heart into a million little pieces because I don’t even know where to start with Jack. People say, ‘Oh just love, support;’ well, come on. How does he unpack all this, if I can’t?

Paul said he’ll never really know how his brother processes information. When he told Jack about the allegations, he said Jack hit himself in the side of the head.

“I’m so frustrated that this person can walk, right now, when we feel like we’re already in jail. While he has time to tidy up his life, our lives are turned upside down. I find that very unfair; it speaks to the systemic discrimination Jack had to endure his entire life,” Paul said.

Gabona’s next scheduled court appearance is June 14.

Editorial Note: This story has been updated to reflect that as of May 13, Gabona was no longer a SARCAN employee.

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