Warning: This article contains an account of shocking and horrific crimes committed against a young child. We have chosen to report on it fully because the case raises questions about the ability of institutions to protect children in society. Reader’s caution is advised.
A Revelstoke man was sentenced to nine years in prison for horrific crimes involving filming himself raping his very young daughter.
The man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban designed to protect the identity of the victim, was sentenced to six years in prison for committing incest, and an additional three years for making child pornography.
The sentencing, which took place at the Revelstoke Courthouse on Thursday, Aug. 8, raised questions about the role of the RCMP and Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) in protecting the victim, as the accused’s interest in young children was first made known to authorities in 2006.
For the purpose of this article, the accused will be known by the made-up initials JS. His former wife will be known as DB. The three children will be referred to as LR, TM and NW.
In a lengthy sentencing last Thursday, Aug. 8., Crown prosecutor Angela Ross laid out the facts of the case in Revelstoke court, while defence lawyer Melissa Klages spoke on behalf of the accused.
On March 1, 2011, an anonymous women brought a laptop computer to the Revelstoke office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Revelstoke. The woman didn’t say how she got the laptop, but said it contained child pornography and belonged to JS. The laptop was brought to the RCMP and searched. Police found 309 images of young girls wearing black lingerie. A further search uncovered almost 1,000 images of child pornography and several videos of adults having sex with children.
They also found family photos and determined the children in the photos were those of JS.
The computer was sent to the RCMP’s Vancouver Integrated Technological Crime Unit for further investigation.
More than a year later, on April 30, 2012, a second laptop was brought to the MCFD. It was also searched.
On October 26, 2012, – 19 months after the authorities received the first computer – JS was arrested and his home was searched. Police seized a number of computer storage devices, computers, CDs, DVDs, a camcorder, camera, porn DVDs and journals.
In the kitchen ceiling, they found 13 discs in hard cases. Those discs contained a child pornography collection that included, amongst other items, three videos of JS raping his three-year-old daughter. The courtroom was closed while the videos were shown.
Crown prosecutor Angela Ross also entered into evidence a sampling of images that were found. JS had them filed into categories. There was one titled ‘Babes,’ which contained photos ranging from infants through females to about age 10 being sexually assaulted. There was another folder called ‘Girls’ consisting of photos of young girls taken in public places. There was another folder with pictures of his daughter.
Last Thursday, 286 days after being arrested, and five months after pleading guilty to his crimes, JS was sentenced to nine years in prison for incest and making child pornography.
JS’ lawyer Melissa Klages described him as a solitary individual who had trouble socializing and relating to others. “There was a lack of stability in his personal relationships,” she told the court. “There was a lack of relationships altogether.”
JS father had drinking problems and was violent and abusive.
When JS was a child, his parents separated and his father moved away. When his mother fell ill and couldn’t work; she relied on social assistance for support.
“He was often forced to be self-reliant and look after the household, which was himself and his mother,” said Klages.
He didn’t have many friends and was bullied in school. He experienced social anxieties that hampered his ability to meet people. After high school he went to university, but he became depressed there and dropped out. He moved to another B.C. town, where he had no friends and spent most of his time alone, playing video games.
In 2000, JS moved to Revelstoke, where he found work. He got in trouble with the law and a pre-sentencing report prepared at the time described him as “dysphoric, anxious, at times hopeless, apathetic and at risk of suicide.”
“He was also noted to be uncomfortable in social situations, have little interest or need for interaction for others, appeared to be passive and submissive in relationship and often prone to self-doubt and negative, harsh self evaluation,” said Klages.
JS recognized his attraction to young girls by the time he turned to 17. He knew it was wrong and was embarrassed and scared by his feelings, said Klages. Without access to the Internet, and with no children in his life, he didn’t act on his impulses.
In January 2003, JS bought a computer and started accessing the Internet. He found support groups online where people with pedophilia could discuss their issues. He also found websites where he could access child erotica, which differs from child pornography in that is non-pornographic and is not illegal, the court heard.
In 2004 he entered into a relationship with DB. This was his first sexual relationship, said Klages. She had a child, LR, from a previous relationship.
They soon married and shortly after, DB became pregnant with TM, who was born in 2006.
In mid-2006, DB found child erotica on the family computer. JS admitted it was his and he sought counseling from the minister at his church and turned himself into the RCMP to see if what he was doing was illegal.
The Revelstoke RCMP examined LR and found no signs of abuse. They looked at the pictures on the computer and determined they consisted of only child erotica and there was no crime being committed. The investigation concluded.
MCFD put a protection order in place and JS left the family home for a short period, said Klages. His access to the children was temporarily restricted, but eventually he resumed the relationship with the family and was allowed to return home.
“The ministry did their own inspection and deemed that JS was not a threat to the relationship and he resumed living at the family home,” Klages said.
JS later admitted that around this time he became interested in child pornography, Klages told the court.
JS started seeing a local mental health worker and he and DB had a second child, NW.
In 2009, the relationship between JS and DB started breaking down and JS feared that DB was going to leave him for a man she met online. That is when the worst of the crimes happened.
In July 2009, over the course of a two week period, JS filmed himself having sex with TM on three different occasions. The courtroom was cleared while the videos were shown.
“The betrayal of parental trust that any child has the right to expect and deserves from a parent is apparent in the video,” said Justice Wilfred Klinger during sentencing. “While significant physical harm to the child is not apparent, the conduct of the accused is intrinsically violent.”
In August, DB left town with the three children to meet the boyfriend she met online (at this point she did not know what had been done to her daughter). She gave a laptop to a police force in another community that allegedly contained images of child pornography and she said belonged to JS. It is unclear what happened to that investigation; Staff-Sgt. Olsen said the Revelstoke RCMP (now retired) was not notified about that laptop at the time and they only learned about it later.
In October, JS obtained a court order to regain custody of the children and he brought them back to Revelstoke with him.
The two children, TM and NW, lived with their father in Revelstoke during this time.
He continued to make pornographic images of TM until March 2011.
Melissa Klages said JS’ did feel remorse and knew his behaviour was wrong. He wanted to receive treatment and that rehabilitation should be a factor in sentencing. She argued his imprisonment should be on the lower end of the range.
“The crime itself was a result of circumstances that are unlikely to occur if he receives some treatment and his access to children and the Internet are restricted,” she said. “He didn’t publish or distribute materials and there’s no evidence of assault aside from the videos.”
After three hours of deliberation, Judge Wilfred Klinger returned to the courtroom with his sentence. He called the videos “highly disturbing and disgusting” and the photos “pornographic, disgusting and criminal.”
“This young child has been significantly impact by the accused’s violation of her,” he said. “Both offences involved considerable planning and deliberation. There is nothing spontaneous about it.
“This child was violated in her own home,” he continued. “A place where she should expect to be safe and receive protection from harm. The accused appears to have limited insight of the harm caused by his actions.”
Klinger read from the pre-sentence report and forensic psychiatrist’s report. Of the former, he said it demonstrated a lack of insight into the seriousness of the crime. “The author relates that the accused says he never wanted to hurt children and feels bad about what he did to his daughter, and that ‘he does not think it affected her too badly,” he said. “He minimizes the sexual violence perpetrated on his daughter.”
The psychiatrist’s report, Klinger said, states “the accused has a serious sexual deviance and is aroused by children as young as one year old.”
Klinger read out from a previous decision in a similar case that adult sexual predators that put children at risk to satisfy their needs “must know they will pay a big price,” and that denunciation and deterrence should be the biggest factors in sentencing. It was up to society to protect children from the harm conducted by offenders like JS.
“To this I can only add that if the courts do not protect the helpless and vulnerable in our society, where to and whom they should look for protection?”
Klinger sentenced JS to six years in years in prison for incest and three years for making child pornography. He ordered JS be placed on the sex offender registry for life and said he cannot have any unsupervised contact with children. He ordered JS to undergo treatment as a sexual offender, and for alcohol use. As well, he ordered all the evidence be sealed.
A further order on the use of the Internet has been left to a future date due to recent changes in legislation.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development and the RCMP knew of JS’ proclivities as early as 2006, so why did it take until October 2012 to arrest him?
Retired Staff-Sgt. Olsen, who joined the Revelstoke RCMP in 2006, shortly after the detachment was notified of JS’ interest in young girls, said the investigation turned up nothing criminal.
“He indicated to the Ministry of Children he liked looking at pictures of young girls,” she said in an interview during a break in proceedings. “There was no crime. There was an indicator of something that could be a crime, but there was no crime.”
What about the delay after the first laptop was delivered in March 2011? Olsen said there was a big backlog at the RCMP in investigating computer crimes. Investigators not only had to look through the images, they had to determine who downloaded them onto the computer. Just because the computer belonged to JS, it doesn’t mean he was the one who saved the images onto the computer, she said.
After the second laptop was turned in, “It was a matter of gathering evidence,” said Olsen. “Unfortunately, our tech crime labs are inundated with these things. One of the biggest hold backs was the technological aspects.”
The disturbing videos that were shown in court were not found until JS’ home was searched.
As for MCFD, a ministry spokesperson declined to answer questions about the case, citing privacy reasons. “We can assure you that any time a case or concern is brought to our attention we examine the specific circumstances and determine what steps are appropriate to ensure children are not at risk,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail. “That may involve putting services or supports in place to ensure the health and well-being of the child are being addressed or removal from the care of the parent.”
The Times Review spoke to the mother DB on Friday, the day after sentencing. She was in court in the morning, and at the first break she sat bawling on the stairs inside the courthouse. She was not present when Judge Klinger delivered his sentence Thursday afternoon.
She said she had no clue what was happening to her daughter until JS was arrested.
She was at her new boyfriend’s house when she heard about the arrest. “I was so shocked, upset and mad I wanted to start throwing things and screaming and crying,” she said.
Though she knew of his inclinations towards very young girls, she didn’t think he would follow through. “He always swore that he would never do that,” she said. “He always promised it would never come to that and he would never do anything to hurt the kids ever.”
DB said she did worry he would give into his temptations and mentioned those concerns to MCFD but that nothing was done.
The children are doing well right now. “They don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “They act like any ordinary child their ages. They’re not closed off or withdrawn or anything. They’re both still open and happy children.”