Former CFL running back Jerome Messam will have a criminal record after he was handed a suspended sentence by a Calgary judge.
The 37-year-old pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges in January but his lawyer, David Nguyen, asked for a conditional discharge two months later. Messam would still have faced a period of probation but he would not have received a criminal record had he met the proper conditions.
Nguyen reportedly argued that having a criminal record would limit his client’s future employment opportunities as he serves as a coach and trainer with athletes, some of whom are youth.
“I am satisfied that a conditional discharge is not appropriate in light of the nature and the seriousness of the offence, the significant consequences inherent in it, and the magnitude of what was taken from (the victim) or the need for strong denunciation and deterrence,” said Court of King’s Bench Justice April Grosse, according to Kevin Martin of the Calgary Herald.
“While I have great compassion for Mr. Messam and what he stands to lose without a discharge, I find that a discharge would be contrary to the public interest.”
According to the agreed facts of the case, Messam engaged in a consensual sexual encounter with a woman in November 2016 and secretly recorded the incident. He later sent four 10-second clips of the encounter to the woman on Snapchat, but did not share them publicly with another party. The adult complainant went to police in April 2018 and charges were laid three months later while Messam was playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Riders released Messam when he was charged and the league did not permit other teams to sign him.
The six-foot-three, 230-pound ball carrier rushed for 5,689 yards and 34 touchdowns while making 225 receptions for 2,022 yards and two touchdowns over his eight-year CFL career. He was a two-time league all-star, two-time CFL Most Outstanding Canadian, and the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian in 2017.