This story contains depictions of sexual violence against a child. Reader discretion is advised.
“He preyed on the one little girl who loved and trusted him more than anyone in the world. And that is the most cruel kind of violation.”
The mother of a young child who was sexually abused by her own father delivered a powerful and heartbreaking victim impact statement during sentencing submissions in Kelowna court Wednesday. The Kelowna man who filmed his sexual abuse of his own infant daughter is facing up to nine years in prison.
The Kelowna courtroom was packed Wednesday for a sentencing hearing, after the man pleaded guilty this past July to sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making child pornography of his own daughter. Police estimated the child was somewhere between one and four years old when the abuse occurred.
Castanet is not naming the man to protect his daughter’s identity, which is covered under a publication ban. This story will refer to him as SA, which are not his actual initials.
Crown prosecutor Catherine Gagnon is seeking a total nine-year sentence for the three offences, while defence counsel Dave Johnson suggested a five-year prison sentence would be sufficient.
The child’s mother attended the sentencing hearing Wednesday, along with the support from members of the Urban Bulldogs Against Kid Abuse. About a dozen members of the local organization attended the hearing to support the child’s mother, who spoke eloquently for 20 minutes about the devastation her former partner's abuse has had on her and her daughter.
“My baby was harmed and I will never excuse him for what he did, [my daughter] did not ask to be treated this way ... she was just listening to her beloved and trusted father, she didn't know she was experiencing abuse,” she said.
“You have selfishly and irrevocably changed her ... She will never be the person she was meant to be because you took that away from her, and in doing so, you took what she could have been away from me too ...You gave her a life sentence and she is supposed to be the innocent one.
“You no longer have control of us. We can't take back the time you took from us but we can try to take our lives back. We will forge a new path without you. Our story has just begun, but your chapter in it has ended. Good riddance.”
SA’s sexual offending was uncovered after his wife discovered his posts about incest fantasies on an online forum. When police seized his phone, they found images and a video of him sexually abusing his infant daughter on two separate occasions.
The abuse is believed to have occurred between 2020 and June 2022, when he was arrested. He was released from custody shortly after his arrest, and subsequently attempted suicide. He survived the attempt, and has remained out of custody since.
Crown prosecutor Gagnon said SA’s sexual abuse against his daughter was encouraged by others on the social media platform he’d been posting his incest fantasies to. In an interview for his presentence report, SA said he would have possibly continued the sexual abuse if he hadn’t been caught.
Both the Crown and defence said SA had been quite candid in the presentence interview, and Johnson noted the court should believe SA's claims that he never uploaded any images of his sexual abuse to the internet.
SA said he was ultimately unsure as to why he committed the offences, but that he had had a strong sexual interest in incest. In the report, the psychiatrist determined SA is a moderate risk to reoffend.
SA made a brief statement to the court, apologizing for his actions.
“I just want to express how deeply sorry I am to my whole family, for all the pain and suffering my actions caused. I know there's no one to blame but myself and I take full responsibility,” he said.
“I'm grateful for the victim statement today because it was quite powerful and I'm also grateful for [my daughter] having a great, strong mom.”
While the Crown provided sentencing submissions for most of the day Wednesday, defence counsel Johnson spent less than 10 minutes arguing for the five-year sentence.
During defence submissions, Justice Andrew Tam pointed out the lone court decision that Johnson was relying on for the five-year sentence had been delivered years before the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision, R v. Friesen, where the country's top court ruled that sentences for sex crimes against children should be increased. Sentences for related crimes have substantially increased since that 2020 ruling.
Justice Tam reserved his sentencing decision to a later date. His ruling is expected to be delivered some time in the new year.
The members of Urban Bulldogs Against Kid Abuse helped fill the courtroom Wednesday to support the victim's mother. The non-profit biker organization advocates against child abuse and occasionally attends court cases to support victims of abuse.
Speaking outside the courthouse Wednesday, UBAKA president 'Smokey' said they were there simply to support the mother, and the group went out to lunch with her during the break in court proceedings Wednesday.
“It makes the victim feel safe knowing that she has moral support,” he said.