Editor’s note: The following story contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.
A convicted child molester from Chatham has been sentenced to five years in a penitentiary after pleading guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault that occurred many years ago.
Ronald Inghelbrecht, 57, entered a guilty plea in Chatham court on Monday on three counts of indecent assault and gross indecency dating back to the early 1980s. Justice Paul Kowalyshyn heard that Inghelbrecht sexually assaulted four young boys multiple times from 1980 to 1985 while they were as young as seven. The victims contacted Chatham-Kent police in late 2019 just before Inghelbrecht was released from prison in November 2019 for another conviction. The court heard that Inghelbrecht groomed the young victims by building go-karts, playing road hockey, offering them rides, and inviting them to his house. The abuse involved several sexual acts back and forth between the parties.
One of the victims read a victim impact statement to the court calling Inghelbrecht a predator, adding that he ruined lives and relationships. The two other victims filed their statements with the court and they were later read by Justice Kowalyshyn and Assistant Crown Attorney Julie Ghag.
Kowalyshyn called Inghelbrecht a serial sexual predator during his commentary just before the ruling. He said Inghelbrecht caused a lifetime of psychological, emotional, and physical harm, adding the victims have nightmares of their haunting experience. One victim said he will never get past the damage caused by the accused. Another said he is a functioning alcoholic because of what he went through. They all said they lived in fear of either their encounters becoming public or getting abused again.
"None of you did anything wrong," said Kowalyshyn. "None of you are responsible for the actions of Mister Inghelbrecht.”
”They were no more than your next victims, your next prey," he told Inghelbrecht.
Defence lawyer Greg McGivern called the case tragic and the events horrifying because his client was in a position of trust and the boys considered him a friend.
"These boys trusted Mister Inghelbrecht and he took advantage of that," said McGivern. "There's no doubt the harm was severe and these individuals will have to live the rest of their lives with the acts that have occurred."
Ghag said the innocent boys were groomed by Inghelbrecht for several years of sexual abuse and his own self sexual gratification.
"What is evidenced here is the relentless sexual exploitation of children involving multiple victims and offences and I would characterize it as a sexual predatory odyssey," she said.
Inghelbrecht was escorted out of the court by guards and will start serving his sentence in a penitentiary immediately. He previously served a seven year federal sentence for sexually abusing a young boy between 1987 and 1991 and possession of child pornography. He was also convicted of a separate sexual assault on a teenaged boy in 1994.
Inghelbrecht is a registered sex offender and has a lifetime weapons ban. He also previously submitted a DNA sample and is not allowed to have contact with children for the rest of his life. He has been ordered to do it all over again as part of this sentencing. Under new legislation, Inghelbrecht was sentenced to the maximum time as a first time offender because these offences predated his other convictions. He declined comment just before his sentencing.
The victims have not been named to protect their identities.