Man sentenced 14 years for 2021 Winnipeg river trail area attacks

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

A 30-year-old man who admitted to attacking three women and a teenage girl in Winnipeg last spring and summer has been sentenced to 14 years in prison, less the time he’s already spent, in recognition of the fact that he was also abused.

Jordan Andrew Bruyere, who sat quietly in court with his head hung, was sentenced by Manitoba provincial court judge Robin Finlayson on Monday, after pleading guilty to the charges last month.

“I’m sorry for my actions. I know it’s doesn’t change anything or the damage that was created, but I’m sorry,” Bruyere told the court.

Finlayson took Bruyere’s statement, as well as his guilty plea and decision not to put the four victims through a trial where they would have to testify against him, as “a huge sign of remorse” in an otherwise “horrific and tragic case.”

He will serve just over 12 years in prison, after spending more than a year behind bars as his case moved through the courts system.

The 30-year-old admitted to attacking a teenage girl and three women on and around Winnipeg’s river trail system last summer and pleaded guilty to the four charges — sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, assault and assault with a weapon.

The four assaults took place on or near the Winnipeg river trail system. One teen girl and an adult woman were sexually assaulted. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

The first took place on April 8, 2021, when he pulled a woman in her 30s to the ground while armed with a knife in an area east of the legislative grounds. The woman struggled and screamed until she got free and ran away.

Two months later, a woman in her 20s was walking along Assiniboine Avenue near the Donald Street bridge in the early morning hours of June 4 when she asked Bruyere if she could borrow his phone, court heard.

He agreed but told her there was better cell reception closer to the bridge. Once there, Bruyere grabbed the woman from behind and dragged her down to the riverbank at knifepoint, raping her without a condom.

The third occurred just eight days later when a woman in her 20s was walking on the river trail along Churchill Drive, near Cockburn Street South, when she was attacked from behind and pulled to the ground.

The woman screamed until the man let go of her and she ran away.

The last took place on Aug. 8, 2021, when a 15-year-old girl was walking on the trail near Churchill High School in the Riverview neighbourhood, when Bruyere approached her and sexually assaulted her.

“This is every woman’s worst nightmare,” Crown attorney Chantal Boutin said, but acknowledged that “hurt people hurt people.”

Bruyere abused as a teen

Boutin and defence attorney Laura Robinson agreed on recommending a 14 year sentence less the time Bruyere has already spent behind bars, saying it was a fair sentence that took into account Bruyere’s past.

Bruyere was abused as a teenager but specifics about the incident, including the name of the perpetrator, cannot be released due to a publication ban. 

Prior to that abuse, Bruyere was surrounded by alcoholism, physical abuse and neglect — something Bruyere’s parents also suffered from as children.

He only has about a Grade 6 education, and struggles with an addiction to meth, which Robinson says “ruined his life.”

“He never really had a chance at a successful life,” she said.

Bruyere has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, which hasn’t been adequately dealt with.

Robinson added that Bruyere attempted to get help for his violence as an adult by seeking the help of psychologists and doctors, but didn’t get the help he needed.

Boutin said Bruyere knows he is a risk to the public, and is remorseful for not getting help prior to hurting the women and teenage girl.

The teenage girl and one of the women wrote victim impact statements to be read privately by the judge.

Finlayson offered sympathy and empathy to those women, reassuring them the attacks weren’t their fault.

“No one deserves to be attacked, no one deserves to be assaulted,” he said.

Bruyere is now on the child abuse registry. Once he is released from prison, he will be banned from possessing weapons for life and not be allowed near parks, playgrounds, community centres, or other places children might be. He’s not allowed to contact any of the victims.

Finlayson concluded the sentencing hearing on a note of positivity with the hope that Bruyere would get the help he needs behind bars.

“This sentence, while very long, gives you some hope at the end of the day … Good luck to you.”

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.

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