A reclusive northern Manitoba woman who came close to ruining the career of a professional athlete after impersonating him and others online is behind bars after being sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Shelly Chartier pleaded guilty in August to seven counts of fraud and other offences in a so-called "catfishing" scheme that entangled the athlete in a child porn investigation and led to a raid of his home in 2012.
In his decision Wednesday, Judge Ryan Rolston said the 32-year-old used her "victims as players in her fantasy world."
"The offender executed a series of deceitful acts, each leading her prey to fall into the trap she had set," Rolston wrote. "Her actions reflect that despite her limited education, the offender has an in-depth understanding of people that allowed for her to manipulate them in nefarious ways.
"A conditional sentence order does not provide a meaningful consequence in light of the reclusive existence she has known, as it only sends her back from whence she came."
Rolston described Chartier as a lonely recluse with a Grade 6 education who left school after being stabbed in the back with a pencil. She rarely left the house and the only social event she had ever attended was her uncle's wedding at the age of eight.
"Shelly Chartier hid from the realities of her life," he wrote. "But also hid behind her keyboard while she befriended and defrauded her victims."
Chartier created a Facebook page under the pro athlete's name and was contacted by a young woman from California who had a romantic interest in the player. The woman, who was 17, eventually sent nude pictures of herself. A publication ban prevents naming the athlete and the other victims.
Using other fake accounts, Chartier arranged a real-life weekend tryst between the teen and the athlete at his home. She then pretended to be the teen's mother and threatened the athlete if he didn't buy her items from Victoria's Secret and Amazon.
The player got his lawyer to pay Chartier $3,000 to avoid disrupting his career. One victim sent Chartier $2,000 worth of clothes thinking she had lost everything in a fire. Another had bought her a puppy and was about to give her a car.
After the young woman went to police, the athlete's home was raided in 2012. He was subsequently dropped by his team, his sponsors and the charities he had worked for.
Chartier came close to ruining everything the athlete had worked for all of his life, Rolston wrote.
"Once a reputation has been sullied, the stain remains with the victim to some extent even if the loss of reputation was not deserved," Rolston wrote. "The fact that she did not totally destroy (the athlete) speaks more to (his) ability to emerge through adversity than anything that the offender did or did not do."
Lawyer John Skinner said both his client and her ailing mother are disappointed by the jail sentence.
"She's obviously very upset and devastated," Skinner said. "She was the sole caregiver to her mother, who has a serious medical condition."
Chartier, who has since married an American she met online, is eligible for parole after serving one-third of her sentence. Skinner said it's unlikely she will be behind bars for more than a year.
He said no decision has been made about whether to appeal the sentence.
"She doesn't present a danger to the public," he said. "There are obvious reasons why she would want to be in the community rather than in jail."