By Jen Durr
It’s a clear man-bites-dog story, the sexual assault conviction of 44-year-old Sherri Dawn Barrett, a six-foot tall, 200-pound Dartmouth, um, lady, who treated a petite homecare worker like the abominable snowman pawing all over Bugs Bunny in that old cartoon.
Anyone reading the court decision from the pen of N.S. Provincial Court Chief Judge Pamela Williams, released January 23 — which includes testimony from the 27-year-old victim that Springhill native Sherri told her, and I quoteth, “You’re pretty, I just want to keep you in my pocket; I want to keep you here forever” — can’t help but hear the voice of Mel Blanc in his portrayal of the affection-starved mythical creature.
“Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit,” Hugo coos as Bugs struggles to get away.
“I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him…”
Dredging up memories of beloved childhood cartoons aside, it’s difficult to know how a reporter could write the story without at least attempting to find out a little bit more about Hugo, er, Sherri. Who knows. It’s possible Francis Campbell, writing for the Herald, did take to Google and discover that Sherri was actually a man not all that long ago, but decided it was impolite to mention that fact.
After the context-free Herald story ran on January 24, others noted how unusual the circumstances seemed.
“I was sexually harassed by a few home care clients,” noted one gal on the Halifax Newschaser Facebook group the other day, “But none were over six feet tall and robust enough to be able to pick me up.”
Robust is indeed a word for Sherri, who puts one in mind of John Lithgow’s ex-football player Roberta Muldoon from The World According to Garp.
It wasn’t long before the interest of Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media was piqued.
Transgender ‘Woman’ Convicted Of Sexual Assault Was Focus Of Legislature Plea For Taxpayer Funding Of ‘Gender-Confirming Garments’ screams The Rebel’s January 29 headline.
And a quick fact-check: yes, Ezra & Co. are quite right about said “legislature plea.”
On October 10, 2017, Susan LeBlanc, the Dipper representative for Dartmouth North, rose on her hind legs and — presumably with a straight face — demanded that the government pay for frilly clothes for Sherri, as they had been prescribed by a doctor.
“My constituent, Sherri Dawn Barrett, is a woman who is currently awaiting gender confirmation surgery,” the Winnipeg-native thespian noted on that day.
“One of the conditions of her treatment is that she lives, prior to the surgery, in a way that she hopes to live after it, which includes dressing in appropriate clothing. Ms. Barrett is also an ESIA (read: income assistance) recipient.
When she brought a request to an ESIA caseworker with a note from a doctor, she was told that the things she needed were not medical necessities, leaving Ms. Barrett’s treatment in jeopardy. My question for the minister of Health and Wellness is, if gender-confirming garments are prescribed by a physician as a prerequisite treatment for gender confirmation surgery, why are they not included in the provincial formulary?”
Although Randy DeLorey’s level-headed response boiled down to “the government can’t pay for everything,” Community Services Minister Kelly Regan’s decidedly non-level-headed response was that it’s a matter worth looking into.
“I must say this is the first time this has come to my attention and I would be happy to sit down and take a look at that particular issue,” she said.
A Dept. of Community Services mouthpuppet was unable to confirm whether gift certificates for Lululemon and Victoria’s Secret are currently among the “special needs” provided to income assistance recipients before I went to press.
The internet tells us that Sherri is also tight with Lenore Zann, owing to her former residence in the Hubtown, which is noted in court records as “Queen Street, two houses before the tracks, Truro.”
Slaps On The Arse,
‘Feet Dangling In The Air’
At trial, Judge Pam heard about several instances of low-level sexual assault Sherri perpetrated on the victim, whose name is of course protected by a publication ban.
The victim, J.C., was at Sherri’s Middle Street, Dartmouth apartment on June 7, 2018 to provide house-cleaning services through an unidentified homecare provider.
Under questioning from Crown Janine Kidd at Provincial Court in Dartmouth, J.C. said she ignored the first assault, a slap on her behind after cleaning the bathroom, because she experiences that sort of thing a lot in her line of work.
“I just proceeded to do my job,” she said.
After the second one, this time another slap on her arse in the kitchen, Sherri said the bit about how she wants to keep the four-foot-nine, 124-pound gal in her pocket. It was at this point J.C. politely told her this is work for her, and she already has a romantic partner.
Later in the living room, J.C. was finishing paperwork when Sherri kneeled in front of J.C. and put her arms around her.
“While hugging J.C., Ms. Barrett moved her mouth towards J.C. saying she wanted to kiss J.C.,” to which the victim replied, “No, that’s unprofessional.”
Continues Judge Pam, “J.C. stood up and Ms. Barrett then picked J.C. up; J.C.’s feet dangling in the air.”
When she managed to free herself and head down the hallway, “(Sherri) grabbed her by the buttocks and lifted J.C. up.”
Readers of this story would be forgiven for asking why someone who appears to possess the strength of a Wookie needs government-funded housecleaning services, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that she also uses her brawn for good on occasion.
In an interview she gave to a local blogger a month before the incident during her volunteering stint for the 2018 East Coast Music Awards, Sherri noted that her duties included meeting bands at the airport and packing their luggage into the van, before presumably carrying the van along with all of its contents to the required venues.
Judge Pam hardly believed a word of Sherri’s testimony at trial, held over two days last June and September.
Shortly after the homecare worker’s arrival, Sherri testified that J.C. — who she said was an old high school classmate, despite their 17-year age difference – “propositioned her for sex and threatened (Sherri) when she said no.”
In a brief found in the court file, Crown Janine pointed out that Sherri also said J.C. “further proposed that she call her partner to come over and watch as well as for (Sherri) to have sex with.”
Sherri, represented by N.S. Legal Aid lawyer Giancarla Francis, testified that J.C. threatened to stop homecare from coming to Sherri’s house if she didn’t stay quiet, saying “I am in charge of everybody… I’m the boss; I’m in charge.”
But upon their goodbyes, Sherri testified that she told J.C., “Hopefully we can see each other around the streets and we can say hi to each other now and we’ve recognized each other and know who we are,” which Judge Pam noted is one of many “major internal consistencies in Ms. Barrett’s evidence.”
“That is not the sort of commentary one would expect from someone who had just been propositioned and threatened,” noted the judge.
Her trans status is not mentioned in the eight-page decision, although Judge Pam notes that Sherri gave a “long explanation of her health difficulties and her surgery of July 2018,” and at times appeared confused by the questions asked of her.
Court records show Sherri, who according to the N.S. Royal Gazette changed her name from Charles Ronald David Barrett in May of 2011, has just one previous mark on her record.
She was convicted of assault against Barbara Barrett, who I believe is her sister, in August of 2012, for which she received a conditional discharge after serving three months of probation. Charles Barrett has a clean criminal record.
Sherri is due to be sentenced on the summary-level sexual assault charge on February 3, the day this article hits the web.