A man accused of engaging in sexual acts, including intercourse on three occasions with a minor, has been sentenced to 28 months in prison.
Charged with sexual interference, the accused, whose name is being withheld to further protect the identity of the victim, was handed the sentence by Justice Allan Betton in Vernon Supreme Court Nov. 2, 2018.
According to Justice’s reasons for sentencing, the offences occurred in June and July of 2015 when the accused was 36-years-old and the victim was 15-years-old. The victim met the accused through his nephew, with whom she was intimate.
“Soon after, and at the accused’s parents’ residence, the victim was introduced to the accused, with the accused’s nephew present. They engaged in a threesome or, as the accused referred to it, a ‘tag,’” Justice Betton said and added that the victim and accused had sexual relations on two subsequent occasions.
“At the time, the victim was struggling with personal issues that led her to engage in self-harm, specifically cutting, and she struggled with thoughts of suicide. Her body had visible scars from the cutting. The victim was at all times a willing participant but, in law, incapable of consenting to the sexual activity.”
Outlined in the reasons for sentencing, the Crown’s position was that there were several aggravating factors, including that the offence had a substantial impact on the victim and that, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of 18. As such, the Crown suggested a jail sentence of three-to-five years.
Defence, however, said a sentence between 12 and 24 months seemed more appropriate given the accused’s background, character references and acknowledgement of the circumstances.
“Reference is also made to a common observation in those letters and a point stressed by his counsel, being the impact that these events have had on the accused’s involvement with his young daughter. He is now precluded from contact with her,” Justice Betton said of the defence’s submissions. “The accused says that this is a collateral consequence that is an important consideration in imposing sentence for these matters.”
A psychological assessment suggests that the accused’s risk for re-offending is low or moderate.
“As noted in my reasons on conviction, he was apparently happy to brag of his sexual encounters and at least joked of ‘troubled girls being his specialty,’” Justice Betton said. “In my reasons, I rejected entirely the proposition that this statement was indicative of a sincere desire to assist the victim with her difficulties. In the psychological assessment, it would appear that the accused maintained that suggestion when he was quoted to say, ‘I pulled back from the relationship when I realized I couldn’t help her,’ referencing the victim.”
However, Justice Betton said the consequences upon the victim and her family have been dramatic.
“The victim impact statement of the victim and her mother reveal the life‑threatening impact of such callousness,” Justice Betton said. “Those victim impact statements, in my view, also demonstrate the rationale and logic for the legal age of consent.”
Justice Betton sentenced the accused to 28 months in prison. The accused is prohibited from communicating, directly or indirectly, with the victim or any member of her immediate family while he is in custody.
Following his release, an order, which will be in effect for 10 years, will prohibit the accused from being within two kilometres of any house where the victim ordinarily resides, goes to school or is employed, and 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. He is also to provide DNA and is prohibited from possessing any firearms, ammunition or explosives.
“The matters before me are serious in nature,” Justice Betton said. “The impact on this victim has been significant. The fact that she was dealing with personal issues of a significant nature are all important considerations. The accused’s attitude toward her is a troubling feature of his conduct.”