FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 26, 2024
TORONTO, ON – Wednesday’s sentencing in the Brent Gabona case highlights systemic issues with congregate care and the need for stronger protective measures for individuals with intellectual disabilities living in those settings.
Inclusion Canada, the national organization advancing human rights for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families, expresses deep disappointment with Gabona’s sentencing.
Gabona, who committed prolonged sexual abuse at Shepherd’s Villa, a group home for people with intellectual disabilities, received a sentence significantly less than the Crown’s recommendation. The sentence raises serious concerns about the justice system’s treatment of crimes against people with intellectual disabilities.
“The sentence handed down in the Brent Gabona case fails to recognize the profound and lasting impact his actions have had on the victims and their families,” stated Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada, “It’s crucial that the justice system fully acknowledges the depth of harm caused and takes steps to ensure such failures are not repeated.”
Brent Gabona, a former employee of Shepherd’s Villa, was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for sexual abuse spanning over a decade. This sentence, markedly less than the 15 years sought by the Crown, is not an adequate punishment for the crimes committed. It represents a failure to adequately punish egregious crimes and underscores systemic issues in protecting the rights and safety of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“This case is a wake-up call,” says Krista Carr, Executive Vice President of Inclusion Canada, “We need to shift away from congregate settings like Shepherd’s Villa, which have proven time and again to be inadequate and unsafe. Our focus must be on ensuring people with intellectual disabilities can live and be included in their communities, in their own homes in safety and dignity.”
Inclusion Canada submitted a detailed Community Impact Statement to the court before the sentencing. This statement highlighted the profound vulnerability of people with intellectual disabilities and their families to violence and abuse, noting that individuals with intellectual disabilities are four to ten times more likely to experience sexual assault than the general population.
Our impact statement underscored the longstanding societal neglect and the urgent need for policy reforms. It emphasized that the harm caused by the perpetrator, Brent Gabona, at Shepherd’s Villa, indicates a wider systemic problem, not just isolated incidents.
Inclusion Canada calls on the Crown to utilize all permissible legal measures, including an appeal if allowed by law, to ensure a just and appropriate sentencing in the Brent Gabona case.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer
416-661-9611 ext. 232
About Inclusion Canada
Inclusion Canada is a nationwide community that champions the rights and inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, allies, and local associations across Canada. The organization is committed to creating an inclusive Canada where everyone, regardless of intellectual capability, is valued and fully engaged in community life.
This is on Inclusion Canada Website go to the link here