A Revelstoke man was sentenced to almost three years in prison after pleading guilty to several sex-related charges involving children.
The man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban designed to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to accessing child pornography, sexual interference of someone under the age of 16, and production of a controlled substance in January.
Last Thursday, Aug. 6, he was sentenced for his crimes, which included accessing disturbing videos and images of children, and the molestation of a girl over several years from the time she was 10.
“There is no question your behaviour, even though you considered it innocuous, is far from that,” Judge Lisa Mrozinski told the man in sentencing.
During sentencing, Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone told the court that the incidents of sexual interference extended over the period of five years, from 2008 to 2013. They began with the girl sitting on the man’s lap, and escalated to molestation and, finally, penetration.
The victim came forward to police in 2012, however the perpetrator and others said she was lying and the victim ended up recanting. The investigation was dropped by the RCMP.
In February 2014, the man became the target of an RCMP investigation into child pornography. His computer was seized and investigators found several damning images and videos. They featured graphic titles and graphic images of children as young as seven engaged in various sexual acts.
The man was arrested in June 2014 and during the course of interviews with police, he admitted to his previous crimes. He was eventually charged with six counts, including possessing and accessing child pornography, invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference of a person under 16, sexual assault, and production of marijuana.
The man told police he believed his relationship was consensual, that the victim flirted with him and initiated contact, and that he loved her, Firestone told the court.
“He said he never hurt her physically, nor did he get any indication she was in a position she didn’t want to be in,” Firestone said.
This wasn’t the case. When the victim was re-interviewed by police, she said she felt pressure to recant her earlier accusations from several sides, including police. Afterwards, she was afraid to come forward again.
She said that she lost much of her childhood because of what she had to endure. It affected her in school and her relationship with her family. She is now in foster care.
“She does have flashbacks occasionally that cause her to break down,” Firestone said.
The accused, she added, chose to protect himself and his family over the victim.
Firestone asked for a total jail sentence of four to five years.
The accused defence lawyer, Chris Johnston, asked for a lighter sentence in the two to three year range. He said the perpetrator was a good worker and cared for his children. He pleaded guilty as soon as he could, though Johnston acknowledged the denial in 2012 was a “negative factor.”
Johnston said the accused had a rough childhood of his own and that he was willing to participate in the sex offender treatment process.
The perpetrator stood up and took responsibility for his crimes. “I realize now she had no way of knowing what she wanted, even if I had the impression she wanted a relationship with me,” he told the court.
In her sentencing, Judge Mrozinski referred to child pornography as a “toxic presence in society,” adding that people who access it encourage the producers. “They will continue to produce it as long as you continue to access it,” she told the perpetrator.
The videos showed girls “who were clearly horrifically abused,” Mrozinski added. “Their suffering would have been obvious to you.”
Mrozinski told the accused he had a “terrible sickness” that “causes unimaginable suffering to children worldwide.”
“It’s a pestilence or disease that must be stamped out.”
With regards to the sexual interference, she said the fact he was believed over the victim was a “tragedy.”
“She was left to linger for many years not having been believed, which added to her misery and suffering,” said Mrozinski.
“You were the adult, you were in the driver’s seat, you were governing the situation and you acted in a way that was shameful, among other things,” she continued. “Having to recant must have been very difficult for her after coming forward.”
She said his actions amounted to a lifetime sentence for the victim.
Still, Mrozinski acknowledged the accused was abused as a child, that he lacked a criminal record, and had a positive work history and family situation.
She sentenced the man to two years for sexual interference and an extra nine months for acquiring child pornography. He is not allowed contact with children other than his own, and he will be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
He also received a $500 fine for production of marijuana, and a $600 victim fine surcharge.