TORONTO, June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Jordan Hunt, the Toronto hair stylist caught roundhouse kicking a pro-life woman in a viral video last fall, received a conditional discharge and eight months’ probation Thursday on two charges of assault and one of mischief under $5,000.
Hunt, 27, also apologized to “everyone I hurt by my actions” in an undated letter which Justice Michael Block read out to the court.
“Everyone should have the right to be without fear when they act on their beliefs. I sincerely regret that I chose such a poor way of expressing myself,” wrote Hunt.
“My behavior was foolish and unacceptable, and I wish to apologize to the people I hurt. I want them to know that I learned a lot since these incidents. This behavior will not be repeated and I am truly remorseful for my actions.”
Hunt’s charges stemmed from two separate incidents.
One occurred at a Toronto location of the September 30, 2018 Life Chain, where Marie-Claire Bissonnette of Campaign Life Coalition began video-recording Hunt on her cellphone after he showed up and started scribbling on participants’ jackets with markers.
Hunt and Bissonnette had a brief discussion before he abruptly roundhouse kicked her in the shoulder, knocking the phone out of her hand. He then ripped her Life Chain ribbon from her jacket and fled.
Shortly after Bissonnette’s 46-second clip of the assault went viral, Hunt was identified on the Internet and lost his job at a Toronto hair salon as a result. He turned himself in to police October 6.
By then, Hunt had been identified as the individual caught on video knocking over a sign during a demonstration by the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform in Toronto in August 2018.
The court heard that on that occasion, Hunt tried to wrest a sign from CCBR’s Samuel Sey, and when unsuccessful, tried to do the same to Sarah Dakin, causing her to fall against a pole and cut her right middle finger.
Based on a joint recommendation from defence and Crown lawyers, Block agreed to a conditional sentence and eight months’ probation for Hunt, with the condition he stay 100 meters away from any pro-life demonstration, not contact those named as victims in the case, and attend counselling as directed by his probation officer.
He also ordered Hunt make restitution within 30 days through his probation officer for damages he caused at the Life Chain: $50 to one victim to replace a jacket he defaced, and $150 to Campaign Life Coalition for a sign he destroyed.
Block further granted Crown attorney Nathan Kruger’s request that Hunt submit a sample of his DNA, given that he assaulted pro-life advocates on two separate occasions and fled the scene both times.
Kruger described the case as “challenging” for both defence and prosecution because they had to balance various principles, particularly proportionality.
Hunt’s assaults and mischief “occurred in a manner that intimidated people who were exercising their right to protest..and express their closely held views,” and anyone engaging in such behavior “needs to know criminal courts are going to take that very seriously,” Kruger said.
However, as a mitigating factor, Hunt’s experience was “eye-opening” for him, and he understands now he was on a “bad path” and “how serious the line he crossed was,” Kruger said.
Moreover, Hunt showed he wanted to resolve the matter by entering an “early guilty plea,” he has health issues as well as “mental health and impulse control issues” which he has been trying to deal with through counselling, and he has a strong support network of family and friends, Kruger said.
There were several victim impact statements Kruger proposed to read out to the court, but Block directed they be entered as exhibits which he then read on his own. The judge said he was “impressed” with the statements, which were “not animated by a spirit of vengeance” but a concern that people should be able to peacefully protest without fear of being assaulted.
Kruger told the court he met with Bissonnette and Dakin and asked them to submit victim impact statements, and that their concerns “are that Mr Hunt takes responsibility for what he did,” and understands that what he did was “a fundamental violation of their right to protest and feel safe.”
He also said Hunt appeared to be “intoxicated” in the videos, and in his summation, Block said Hunt’s “imbibing” was a mitigating factor, given alcohol is a “radical dis-inhibitor” and the evidence suggested Hunt did not fully intend the consequences of his actions.
Mencel told the court Hunt had no intention of hurting either Bissonnette or Dakin in the two incidents.
The “significant amount” of international media attention given the incident has caused Hunt a “great amount of anxiety,” and he suffered consequences, such as receiving threatening messages and having his personal information on the internet, that went far “beyond the court process,” Mencel said.