West Kelowna  

West Kelowna man handed 10-year sentence for sexually abusing own daughter

Years of abusing daughter

Reader advisory: This story contains descriptions of sexual abuse of a child.

A West Kelowna man was handed a 10-year prison sentence Wednesday for sexually assaulting his teenaged daughter over a five-year period.

The sentencing hearing was held in Kelowna court Wednesday, following a trial that led to a conviction of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.

Castanet is not naming the convicted man in the case, as a publication ban is in place restricting any information that could identify the victim. Castanet will instead refer to him as C.M. and the victim as A.M. These are not the actual initials of the people involved.

During sentencing, Judge Cathaline Heinrichs said C.M. sexually touched A.M. many times between 2014 and 2018, when A.M. was between 10 and 15 years old. Judge Heinrichs previously ruled the sexual interference conviction involved many instances of sexual touching, one instance of attempted oral sexual abuse, and one instance of anal penetration.

A.M. testified that she slept in the same bed as her father for years and often showered with him, during which he would sexually touch her.

“[A.M] should have been able to rely on [C.M.] to keep her safe, rather than be the perpetrator of sexual offences against her,” Judge Heinrichs said. “This was not a one-time indiscretion, but a repeated series of increasingly serious events. The behaviour was persistent and became normalized for [A.M.] until she became older.

“The context created by [C.M] in the home is a further aggravating factor, as it conditioned [A.M.] into thinking that what was going on wasn't wrong ... [A.M.] described her father as her best friend and as she matured and realized that the sexual aspects of their relationship was not part of a normal or appropriate father-daughter relationship, it became more difficult for her to disclose what was happening. She did not want to lose her friend or her father.”

Judge Heinrichs also highlighted the “clear evidence of physical violence” and the “angry environment” in the family home, which led to A.M. feeling hesitant to disclose the abuse.

Denies abuse

C.M. has continued to deny the offending, and has blamed A.M. for making up the allegations.

“[C.M.] takes no responsibility for his actions,” Judge Heinrichs said. “He addressed the court and seemed at a loss as to how he had become a monster that his children see him to be, and hopes that he can turn things around to someday resume a relationship with them.

“Neither in his comments in court, nor to the authors of the pre-sentence report or forensic report, is there any remorse or empathy for [A.M.] He did not take responsibility and he places significant blame on others, including his former spouse.”

But Judge Heinrichs ultimately believed A.M.'s testimony following trial, and during sentencing, she highlighted A.M.'s “heart-rending” testimony.

“In trial, [A.M.] had a deeply visceral reaction to the question posed [about whether the offences occurred], such that her answer that it had happened was projected not only in her words but in her entire body language, tone and emotional response.”

Tears in courtroom

Judge Heinrichs said C.M. was not sexually abused as a child, and there was “nothing to excuse his behaviour or reduce his moral responsibility.” She said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but continued to sexually abuse his daughter over a five-year period.

When Judge Heinrichs announced the 10-year sentence, a young woman in the courtroom burst out in tears.

“I love you girls, always and forever,” C.M. said to a group of people in the courtroom, as a sheriff put him in handcuffs and took him into custody.

The 10-year sentence is at the high-end of the range of sentences handed down in most sexual interference cases in Canada. The conviction has a maximum sentence of 14 years, but Judge Heinrichs noted past similar cases have resulted in sentences between eight and 12 years. C.M.'s defence counsel had sought a five-year sentence.

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