Crown seeking 10-13 years for autistic man who sexually abused child

10-13 yrs sought for abuser

Crown prosecution is seeking 10 to 13 years in prison for an autistic man who sexually abused and took pornographic photos of a girl when she was only five to seven years old.

The lawyer for the man, in contrast, proposed a sentence of two years in prison, less a day – the maximum jail time that can be served in provincial custody – followed by three years probation.

Defence lawyer Matthew James called the Crown's proposed sentence "drastically disproportionate to the nature of the offence, and the nature of (the man)."

The man, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban to protect the identity of the victim, was living in the home of a family member in Prince George, Crown prosecutor Lisa Sukkau told the court on Friday. The family trusted the man alone with their young daughter, who was a member of his extended family.

Over a period of years he took hundreds of images of her naked body, escalating to sexually touching her on the buttocks and eventually attempting to rape her, Sukkau said.

"(The man) abused his position of trust. (The offences) took place in her home, in her bedroom. The place where she is supposed to be safest," Sukkau said. "(He) tried to have sex with this young child – it just doesn't get worse than that."

The man denies the charges, and was convicted after a trial for sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching of a person under 16, sexual assault, making or publishing child pornography, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography.

Sukkau said the Crown is seeking seven to 10 years in jail for the charges related the sexual interference of a minor, plus three additional years for the charges related to making child pornography, in what could become a precedent-setting case.

The case is one of the first of its kind to come forward following a landmark April 2020 Supreme Court of Canada decision. In the case of R. vs. Justyn Kyle Napoleon Friesen, the Supreme Court ruled that jail sentences for sexual offences against children need to increase to reflect changes to federal law and "because society’s understanding of the gravity and harmfulness of these offences has deepened."

High single-digit and double-digit jail sentences "should be neither unusual nor reserved for rare or exceptional circumstances," the Supreme Court ruled.

The Supreme Court ruling is clear that old sentencing guidelines and precedents no longer apply, Sukkau said.

"There is no case that is the same, thankfully," she said. "It's a dangerous path to not denounce and deter people from sexually abusing children."

The man engaged in "grooming behaviour," telling his victim that what they were doing was normal, and warning her not to tell anyone, she told the court.

"They were planned, they were deliberate," Sukkau said. "He knew her age, he knew she was a child. (He) never misunderstood that he shouldn't have sex with (the victim)."

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