A former medical student who raped an unconscious woman “availed himself of an opportunity” he could not resist due to the stress of “leading an exemplary life,” his lawyer has argued.
Prachur Shrivastava, 27, was convicted of sexual assault following a trial last year.
On Thursday, Alberta Justice Jolaine Antonio heard a second round of sentencing submissions from Crown and defence and will make her decision next month on how much time Shrivastava should spend behind bars.
Shrivastava was partying with fellow medical students and others in Calgary in 2014 when he raped a young woman who had passed out in a friend’s living room.
CBC News is calling the victim Laura because a court-ordered publication ban protects her identity.
‘Tempted in that moment’
In Canada, the prison-time starting point for a major sexual assault — one that involves penetration — is three years.
Initially, defence lawyer Dale Fedorchuk asked the judge to send his client to jail for 90 days on weekends, but on Thursday, he submitted a new position of about nine months in jail.
Fedorchuk said people who are held to high standards like his client make human errors, giving the examples of Bill Cosby and Tiger Woods.
Shrivastava’s actions were a case of “drunken stupidity,” argued Fedorchuk, who said his client was “faced with an opportunity, tempted in that moment” and made “a stupid decision to cave to temptation.”
‘Exceptional people do not rape’
Prosecutor Tiffany Dwyer proposed a four- to five-year sentence and took issue with Fedorchuk’s classification of his client as exceptional.
“Exceptional people do not rape unconscious women,” said Dwyer. “The fact that he’s educated and his parents are wealthy does not change what he did.”
“Incapacity of a woman is not an ‘opportunity’ … it wasn’t an opportunity, it was a choice. He is a predator.”
Shrivastava had to withdraw from the University of Toronto’s medicine program when charges were laid but the school did allow him to complete a master’s degree in biotechnology. He is now employed by a California-based medical technology firm and has two job offers.
Fedorchuk pointed out to the judge that those job offers are from women.
“There is a significant and meaningful negative impact this is going to have on his life going forward,” said Fedorchuk, who noted that even if his client gets a pardon or a record suspension, “anyone with the internet” will learn about Shrivastava’s conviction.
Shrivastava was given the chance to speak at the conclusion of sentencing submissions, offering an apology.
“I never meant for this to happen,” he said. “I hope I can contribute and become a contributing member of society as I have done in the past.”
His victim does not believe the apology is genuine.
“The rapist chose to make this his life,” said Laura in a phone interview with CBC News. “At least he had a choice in making this his life. I don’t.”
“If he honestly felt any remorse, he would have pled guilty. Instead, he tortured me by playing innocent.”
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