Warning: The following report includes sexually graphic information.
A 64-year-old Kelowna man who admitted his culpability after family members came forward alleging inappropriate touching and sexual assaults three decades ago, will spend the next couple of years behind bars.
The accused pleaded guilty to two counts of gross indecency — with one claim coming from his daughter and the other from his stepson. Both say he sexually assaulted them at different times when they were young children in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was also charged with indecent assault on a female and sexual assault, but those charges were stayed by the Crown following his guilty plea and sentencing that took place in Kelowna on Monday.
A publication ban does not permit the reporting of any information that could identify the complainants, so no names will be listed.
It was in January 2013 when the man’s now 35-year-old stepson came forward to police. According to Crown lawyer Debra Pope, he told police that the accused began conducting himself inappropriately when he was five years old, and always happened when his mother was away from the home.
The first time, he remembers the accused waving his bare bum in the air in front of him, said Pope. Later, the accused would lead him to the master bedroom and perform oral sex on the boy, she told the court.
The victim told police this happened many times for a number of years, but there was never any penetration that he could remember. He also said the accused would say, “This is our secret, don’t tell anyone.”
The final incident that he can remember was when the accused made him watch an adult film when he was around 10 years old; he told police it had made him uncomfortable. The accused then suggested they go into the master bedroom, says Pope.
But the victim went to his own bedroom, only to be followed by the accused who said, “I thought you liked it.” When he got no response from the victim, he again reiterated, “This is our secret.”
The court heard that things came to a breaking point during Christmas 1991, when the accused’s ex-wife called the home to condemn the man for doing similar things to his own daughter a few years earlier. His current wife overheard the call and asked him if these things were true, to which he tearfully admitted, said Pope. The mother then asked her son if these things had also been happening to him, but the court heard that the victim was too ashamed at the time to add any details to the story and only wanted the family to stay together.
Police then interviewed the daughter, who also said the accused began fondling her when she was around 5 years old, but prior to the earlier incident, as she was a few years older than the stepson and it was before the father remarried.
Pope says the girl told police that he would snuggle her on the couch, and then begin touching her private parts, inside of her underwear.
She also does not recall any penetration, but believes he tried on at least one occasion, but her mother came home. She also told police of another incident when the accused came into her room and put his face between her legs and began to perform oral sex, said Pope.
The daughter told police the accused said, “Mom doesn’t let me do this stuff. Mom and me aren’t getting along. You’re my favourite girl. Don’t tell your mom.”
She also told of other instances when he would lie next to her in bed and touch her and rub her beneath her underwear.
The accused was interviewed by police on May 25, 2013 and admitted that something happened many years ago, for which he is ashamed, said Pope.
He indicated to police that what he did was not right, that he had apologized to various people and had prayed for his sins. When asked to describe the incidents, the accused’s version is much less graphic and differs from that of the victims, said Crown.
A victim impact statement from the stepson spoke of how these memories still impact him on a daily basis, and he has suffered through nightmares and every kind of emotion in between. He said it’s like being in prison — he can’t leave. Those thoughts will always be with him.
The Crown had suggested a three-year prison sentence, and admitted the accused’s risk of reoffending was low — a psych report suggested the same thing. But Pope also pointed out that the case involves two different people that were victimized at different times.
The lawyer for the accused, Andrew Vandersluys noted to the court that his client had chosen to plead guilty in order to save the victims from testifying. He also said his client had contested some of the accusations thrown at him, saying he has a limited memory of what happened 30 years ago.
Vandersluys told the court his client is “accepting” what the Crown found as evidence, the allegations levied and the sentence that comes with it.
During the more intimate details presented by Crown counsel, the accused sat with his arms folded, quietly murmuring or exhaling through his lips and sometimes shaking his head.
When asked if he had anything to say, he stood and told the court, “This is hard. My heart is hurting. I love my children. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I wish I had a chance to make it up to them.”
He was then sentenced to two years in jail for each offence, to be served concurrently. That will be followed by two years of probation. He must also submit to a DNA sample.