This past March, Jorge Alim Vega Ramirez was sentenced to two years less a day in jail for sexually assaulting one of his female tenants, an ESL student from Japan, in 2013. The victim’s identity has not been revealed due to a publication ban.

This case reflects the #metoo movement that has been gaining momentum with discussions on women’s rights and men’s behaviours, bringing to light the type of lines crossed; with this case in particular, we see a line that was crossed by a landlord to his tenant.

The Case

The 35-year-old landlord, Jorge Alim Vega Ramirez, used his key to enter the victim’s apartment for months after she moved in and entered her bedroom while she was sleeping in the early morning hours. Vega Ramirez had non-consensual sexual intercourse with her while the victim was unaware of what was happening. Once she realized the situation she was in, the victim told Vega Ramirez to stop and he did, leaving the room immediately after.

When the victim went to leave her apartment later on, Vega Ramirez spoke to her at the door and apologized for what had happened, confessing that he liked her “too much”.

Contrary to these details, Vega Ramirez claimed at the trial that he had consensual sex with the victim and that she was fully awake during the act. He further claimed to have taken the necessary steps to ensure she was a willing participant, but was honestly mistaken in his belief.

The Verdict

Despite his claims, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams did not find Vega Ramirez very convincing in June of last year, finding his comments focused on himself rather than the victim. Not only did Vega Ramirez not show genuine sympathy for the victim, according to Justice Williams, but he breached the landlord/tenant trust and took advantage of a vulnerable individual. As a result, Justice Williams convicted Vega Ramirez of sexual assault, giving him a low sentence because he did not have a criminal record prior to this assault.

Because he is in Canada with a work visa, Vega Ramirez faces deportation after serving his sentence and has lost his job at the restaurant he has been managing for the past four years in Vancouver. In addition, Vega Ramirez will be forced to add his name to the sexual offender registry for 20 years and refrain from contacting the victim in any way.

The victim confessed to the court that she is suffering from emotional stress as a result of the attack and has sought ongoing counselling after having moved to a transition home.

There are times when a line shouldn’t be crossed, but the line itself isn’t always obvious. It’s times like these that you need to consult highly experienced criminal lawyers, like Sicotte & Sandhu, to work with you in this trying time. Contact us today in Surrey or Peace River so we can find the best defence option for you.