By James Thom, WawatayNews.ca - July 9, 2009
Although he was convicted of six new counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault July 2, Ralph Rowe was made a free man the next day.
Rowe, a former minister, pilot and Scout leader, faced the charges in Kenora before Justice Erwin Stach.
Stach sentenced Rowe to a concurrent sentence of one year. This meant the sentence he was currently serving, which was imposed by Stach July 7, 2007, was not extended.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler expressed disappointment with Stach’s decision, saying Rowe should be spending considerable more time in prison for the effect he’s had on First Nation families.
“Based on the damage he’s done to the lives of these men and the communities (a concurrent sentence) just isn’t enough,” Fiddler said. “Ralph Rowe has shown no remorse and he hasn’t been rehabilitated. He will always be a threat to children.”
Rowe worked in 18 NAN First Nation communities between 1971 and 1986.
These are the sixth set of sexual-related charges he’s faced, dating back to incidents in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Rowe faced 21 charges at the onset of the trial. Most of those were indecent assault. The remaining three were sexual assault. His victims were all First Nations boys who were younger than 12 at the time.
Six charges were withdrawn prior to the trial’s launch when some of the victims decided against testifying.
Four other were acquitted when the alleged victim left the courtroom in the midst of testimony.
Two other charges were dropped when the complainant failed to attend the trial.
Rowe was also found not-guilty of two charges, one each of sexual assault and indecent assault.
Fiddler praised the strength of those men who faced their abuser.
“I admire the men who have gone through this,” he said.
In total, Rowe has been sentenced to 10-and-a-half years, having already served seven.
In the years since his first conviction, the Ralph Rowe Survivor’s Network was formed.
“The group is still active,” Fiddler said. “They’ve found the best support they can get is themselves through peer support.”