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October 8, 2002

Student's fondler released

From: Toronto Star, Canada
Oct. 8, 2002

A deaf man with a drinking problem who broke into a University of Toronto dorm and sexually assaulted a student walked out of a downtown court a free man yesterday.

Cameron Eugene Ratelle, 23, was sentenced to time served in jail — one year — after admitting he climbed into the bed of an 18-year-old student at Whitney Hall last October, and fondled her breasts and buttocks before fleeing.

In an agreed statement of facts, Ratelle earlier pleaded guilty to sexual assault, forcible confinement, seven counts of breaking and entering, and possession of property obtained by crime.

He looked on from the prisoner's box as a sign language interpreter relayed the sentence to him from Mr. Justice Peter Grossi.

Ratelle, who had been on probation for an earlier sexual assault — lifting up a woman's skirt at a subway station — was temporarily released into his grandmother's care.

"It's a very sad case," his lawyer, Jim Ermacora, said later. "He's deaf, he has fetal alcohol syndrome and he can't read or write. We are trying to get him some help, get him into some programs for his problems."

The court was told Ratelle will stay with his grandmother until he goes into programs for his substance and sexual abuse problems.

Although Ratelle is a native of the Bahamas, he is now a Canadian citizen, Ermacora said.

His country of birth is under no obligation to take him back to live there with his mother, Ermacora said. The judge had previously considered making Ratelle serve time under his mother's supervision.

Prosecutor Helen Song told the court that one condition of his probation is that he not go near the downtown university campus.

She said later Ratelle had jumped on top of the woman, put his hand over her mouth and started groping her.

He had gone into at least 10 dormitory rooms that night, switching on the lights each time, she said. If the student awoke, he would leave.

During his crime spree, he also stole wallets, sunglasses, student identification cards and other personal belongings, Song said.

Since the incident, security has been beefed up at the dorm.

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