The following story contains disturbing details of offences against a child. Reader discretion advised.
An Okanagan man has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for sexual interference of a minor.
The accused, whose name is being withheld to further protect the identity of the victim, sat with his head hanging and avoided glancing at the public gallery as Judge Dennis Morgan handed down the sentence in Vernon Law Courts Monday, Nov. 26.
“Multiple and ongoing incidents of sexual touching occurred from March 20, 2009, when the victim was only seven-years-old, until Jan. 1, 2017 when (the victim) was 14 years of age,” Judge Morgan said.
Court heard that the offender, who pleaded guilty to sexual interference of a person under 16, was between the 18 and 29 years old and acted like an uncle to the victim.
“He was a person of trust and authority over (the victim),” Judge Morgan said. “(The accused) admits there were up to 24 separate occasions of sexual touching.”
Victim impact statements were received by the courts as well as a community impact statement. That community, however, is also being withheld to further protect the victim as the community, court heard, was described as small and close-knit.
“Since the assaults occurred, her emotional well-being has been like a roller-coaster and she has out-of-control mood swings and violent outbursts of anger towards her family,” Judge Morgan said of the victim’s impact statement. “The trauma has caused her to have depression and moodiness and she lives in anger, resentment and shame and has constant nightmares.”
A father of three, the accused was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and was in the foster care system. He currently has no contact with his children and pays child support every two weeks.
“His incarceration will have a significant further negative impact on his family,” Judge Morgan said.
Court heard that the accused hopes to put the offence behind him to return to his family.
Crown counsel Margaret Cissell sought a sentence of two-to-five years incarceration. Defence lawyer Jonathan Avis, however, deemed 18 months to two years less one day an appropriate range for sentencing.
“The aggravating factors are the young age of the victim, the breach of trust given the relationship between the offender and the victim, the ongoing nature of the assault beginning when the victim was seven-years-old and continuing until she was 14-years-old making the likelihood of significant psychological and emotional harm very foreseeable, telling the young victim that if he told anyone about the sexual behaviour he would be taken away from his daughters, although assessed as presenting a low-to-moderate sexual violence recidivism, the author of the psychological pre-sentence assessment notes that the risk is mitigated currently by the offender’s limited access to potential victims and goes on to state that, if granted the opportunity, there appears to be some continued risk of offending boundary violations, violations of a position of trust and power as well as ethical and societal violations for his own sexual gratification,” Judge Morgan said.
“The mitigating factors are an early guilty plea, no criminal conviction history, the presence of Gladue factors that will link to his degree of responsibility, a willingness to take counselling and develop a toolkit to assist him in preventing future offending, the offender’s co-operation with the report writers, a good work history and a history of supporting his family.”
Judge Morgan said, taking the factors into account and the mandated goals of the court, the appropriate sentence is 42 months incarceration. The accused will be held in a federal system, where he will likely qualify for sexual offender intervention programming and counselling.
The accused must provide a sample of his DNA, be registered in the sex offender information registry for 20 years and is prohibited from possessing any firearms or restricted weapon or ammunition and explosive substance for 10 years following his release.
He is also prohibited from attended public parks or swimming areas where persons under the age of 16 are present or are likely to be present or day care centre, school ground, playground or community centre for seven years.
The accused is prohibited from seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, volunteer or paid, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards a person under 16-years-old for seven years and must not have contact, directly or indirectly, with the victim during the custodial portion of his sentence.
“The sexual abuse of a child by an adult is a most grave offence,” Judge Morgan said. “There is a further overlaying of abhorrence when the offence is perpetrated by adults who use and rely on their position of trust and authority over the child to perpetrate, or even worse perpetuate the abuse.”