By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
A Chatham-Kent sexual offender has been sentenced to five years behind bars after he was arrested and charged in November 2019 with multiple historic sexual offences.
On Monday, Ronnie Inghelbrecht, 57, appeared before court in Chatham and pled guilty to several charges of sexual offences, including indecent assault and gross indecency.
Between 1980 and 1981, he sexually assaulted three Chatham boys. Due to publication bans no information can be released that could identify a complainant or witness in a sexual offence.
In 1994, Inghelbrecht was also convicted of sexual assault and spent three months in jail with a year of probation. In 2012, he received a seven-year jail sentence for being in possession of child pornography, and of sexual assaults.
Inghelbrecht was taken in for questioning by the Chatham-Kent Police Service immediately after his release after one victim came forward. The police initiated an investigation and three more victims were identified.
According to the agreed statements of facts by the Crown and defence, the three victims lived in the same neighbourhood where Inghelbrecht also lived.
“During that entire period of time… Inghelbrecht began a relationship with each of the victims by immersing himself into the victims’ lives. Inghelbrecht would go go-karting, play street hockey, offer rides and invite them into his home,” according to the agreed statements of facts read in court by assistant crown attorney Julie Ghag.
The incidents began as young as seven for some victims and continued for several years.
The statement of facts described acts where Inghelbrecht inappropriately touched the children and performed sexual acts on them. He also asked the victims to perform sexual acts in return.
“I suffered from bad dreams and nightmares for years after the assault. I was well into my 30s before the horrors stopped playing in my mind, over and over again. I believe it affected my relationships, and my ability to trust and to this day still haunt me,” stated one victim in court while reading his impact statement.
In addition to the emotional trauma, victims also noted their education suffered since the assault. Some suffered incidents of alcoholism, and had suffered physical injuries from the assaults.
Lawyer Greg McGivern asked the judge to take into consideration the fact that Inghelbrecht was co-operative with police and the court during the investigation and trial when determining his sentence.
Because these charges predated his other offences, Inghelbrecht was charged as a first-time offender.
“It’s a little bit of a unique situation and certainly one that struck me as being somebody who’s genuine with remorse,” McGivern told the court.
The judge stated that Inghelbrecht remains a high risk to reoffend when taking into account his record and the facts presented before the court.
“You are, regrettably, a serial sexual predator. You caused immeasurable pain to young persons who innocently thought they were your friends. In fact, they were no more than your next victims, your next prey. You breached their trust in you. You have changed their lives forever,” the judge told Inghelbrecht in court.
Inghelbrecht will also receive sex offender programming during his time in jail.