Aug 9, 2012 / 10:50 pm
A South Okanagan man was found guilty of sexually assaulting and pimping out his teenage stepdaughter in a Penticton court room on Thursday.
Judge Gregory Koturbash handed down the decision on all 10 counts against the man at the end of the trial that began in May and continued over to August.
Koturbash stated he came to his conclusion after determining the teenage witness, though inconsistent at times in evidence given first to the RCMP, then the court, was a credible witness.
Furthermore friends and family members called as witnesses during the trial backed up the evidence she gave regarding the prostitution and sexual abuse at different homes.
Both defence witnesses were inconsistent , however, with the man’s wife acting as an advocate for him.
“She still loves him so much that she has a motive to lie, so he can be released from jail,” he said.
The man showed little concern for the girl’s welfare nor was his explanation of how the prostitution unfolded to be believed.
“His explanation of the prostitution activities did not have an air of reality,” he said.
The accused appeared visibly upset as the decision was read and was quickly removed from the courtroom, after shouting out surprise, surprise and asking if he had to come back to this place.
The decision followed closing arguments given Wednesday by defence lawyer James Pennington and crown counsel Wendy Kavanagh.
Pennington described the case as a drama with two main actors and a cast of supporting characters. Ultimately it boiled down to the stepdaughter and the accused.
The latter he claimed was more credible in his testimony because what the girl said in the trial was not consistent with what she told the RCMP early on.
“This is a recurrent theme throughout her evidence,” he said. “We have established one thing, she’s a liar.”
The officer she dealt with at the time of her arrest was already intensely disliked by the family, and given the nature of the conversation Pennington asked why not bring in a female officer to question her instead.
As for the first instance of alleged sexual abuse in Osoyoos, in which she took her bathing suit top off and was fondled by the man, he claimed the girl was again lying because his client’s wife was constantly in the home at the time, awaiting gastric bypass surgery.
Nor did evidence given by witnesses about sexual abuse in that home and others the family lived in hold up because they had motives to lie, said Pennington.
The stepson, who said he overheard sexual noises coming from a bedroom in the Osoyoos residence, hated the accused from day one and others were involved in drug and business deals with the man that fell through.
When the alleged prostitution began, the girl would have the court believe she was the primary source of income for the family.
But on the witness stand the accused stated he had a good drug dealing operation that allowed the family to buy big screen TVs and other toys and smoke as much marijuana as they wanted.
His wife also received a disability check which helped the family financially.
“It’s not like they had to scramble to keep a roof over their heads,” Pennington said. Nor could the stepfather have taken the girl to the prostitution stroll in Surrey, where the illegal activity supposedly took place, because he and his wife were both working at the time.
In her closing argument Kavanagh stated the man should be convicted of all the counts against him because consistent evidence was provided by witnesses.
“They were all credible people with a great amount of corroboration, despite my friend’s efforts to show they lied,” she said. “None had a reason to lie.’’
The defense witnesses, the accused and his wife, on the other hand, did not corroborate each other.
Although at times evidence given by the girl by video seemed contradictory, Kavanagh defended her, saying she led a chaotic life, filled with frequent moves and parental drug abuse.
“One cannot readily abandon her background from the illegal activities to unspeakable acts,” she said “Her evidence is critical in this trial and has the ring of truth.”
Her growth in the past year, now both parents are gone from her life, also needed to be considered.
The girl has gone from someone who was described by RCMP officers and school officials as being like a shy animal to someone who has graduated from high school and found employment, said Kavanagh.
The sexual abuse started in Osoyoos when she was 11 or 12, after she and her stepfather returned from a trip to the beach. He allegedly took off her bikini top and fondled her, only stopping when other family members showed up at the door.
Following that there were countless times she was forced to lie down with her dad for sexual intercourse and oral sex. The activities continued when the family moved to Okanagan Falls and Penticton.
“She tried to refuse him, but he threatened to kill her,” said Kavanagh.
Witnesses including relatives and friends who stayed with the family all testified they were aware of the nighttime activities in a bedroom behind closed doors.
The girl’s testimony that the prostitution began in Surrey in 2010, and continued at the Soupateria in Penticton was also to be believed, she said.
Her evidence is corroborated by undercover police officers, who saw meetings between one john and the victim, and school officials and friends who saw her with her step-dad at the Soupateria, said crown counsel.
“The accused has admitted to taking the victim to the stroll, reading license plates and arranging at least two dates.
These are concessions, he really can’t get out of,” she said. “These are the jobs a pimp does.”
Next in the case is a pre-sentence report with a psychiatric component. A date for sentencing is expected to be set on September 19.
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