Former CFL player convicted of voyeurism apologizes at Calgary sentencing hearing

By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Editor’s Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.

A former running back with the Calgary Stampeders who filmed a sexual encounter with a woman without her permission offered a tearful apology at his sentencing hearing Thursday.

But Jerome Messam, 37, also expressed some anger in his 10-minute address about how he has been portrayed and what the court case has done to his life.

“I just want to be able to move on. I see my friends on the TSN channel talking about football … and I say, ‘Man, that could have been me,'” he told the court.

“I see that all this happened in a time when there was so much nuance and all these MeToo (movements) and all the things. They just threw me to the wolves. No due justice, no due process.”

Messam pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of voyeurism.

Court heard Messam and the woman followed each other on social media while he was a running back for the Canadian Football League team.

On Nov. 11, 2016, they had dinner together and then had consensual sex at Messam’s apartment.

Three months later, Messam sent the woman four 10-second video clips of their sexual encounter on the social media platform Snapchat, which deletes videos after they are played.

The woman made a formal complaint to police and the CFL in April 2018. Messam had his contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders terminated after he was charged in July 2019.

In a tearful victim impact statement last month, the woman said she had considered ending her own life, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has moved away from Calgary.

Messam said he’s sorry for any harm his actions caused.

“I never intended for any of this to happen … nor did I know the level of pain that the situation caused her,” he told court.

“I take pride in what I’ve done on the football field. It sucks that my career was cut short. I made a bad choice. Do I feel the punishment fits the crime? No. I lost everything in a span of 48 hours.”

Former Calgary Stampeders running back Jerome Messam is seen at practice for the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto

Former Calgary Stampeders running back Jerome Messam is seen at practice for the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. Sentencing arguments are continuing for Messam, who filmed a sexual encounter with a woman without her permission. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Prosecutor Janice Walsh said jail time isn’t appropriate. She recommended a suspended sentence of 18 to 24 months, which would give him a criminal record, followed by probation.

“I’m not asking the court to consider that Mr. Messam’s fact pattern is near the far end of the spectrum, but nor is it a mere observation and nor is it at the conditional discharge end of the spectrum,” Walsh said.

“This falls somewhere in that middle range of sentences, which requires a criminal conviction but does not require the punishment of jail, either in the community or actual jail.”

Walsh rejected suggestions that media attention Messam received after he was charged and the loss of his CFL career should be factors in the sentencing.

“The CFL has its own conduct policy. The CFL has exercised their discretion,” Walsh said.

“With regard to the media attention, it is inevitable and inextricably linked with the profile of Mr. Messam and his previous position as a member of a professional football team.”

David Nguyen, Messam’s defence lawyer, asked for a conditional discharge, which would spare him a criminal record.

“This case involves only two parties, that is the complainant and Mr. Messam,” Nguyen said. “In respect to the subject matter, there was no distribution, there was deletion of the files and there was no attempt to capitalize or extort or use for financial gain.”

Nguyen said Messam has no previous criminal record and the attention has been a deterrence. He said his client works with young children, their parents and other adults providing physical training.

“Right now, he’s operating without a criminal record and working without a criminal record,” he said.

“This court should consider what the effect of a criminal record would have on his future employment, and providing for himself and for his family.”

Messam also asked the judge to consider a conditional discharge.

“I just want to say that I pray, my lady, that you’ll look at the big picture and know that my rehabilitation would be greatly affected by this record.”

A judge is to give a decision on Dec. 5.

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