Jailed for touching child

A 14-month jail sentence was handed out in Kelowna court Friday for sexually touching a child – a case that brought a tear to the eye of the judge who heard the case.

Jeremy Carlson, a transgender person who has since transitioned to a woman and legally changed her name to Riley, was charged in 2016 after the victim, who was under 10 years old, came forward to her mother.

While Carlson was originally charged with sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under 16, she pleaded guilty to the sexual interference charge in November 2017, and the Crown dropped the assault charge.

Carlson's defence had sought a 90-day intermittent sentence, while the Crown had argued a sentence closer to 20 months in jail was more appropriate. On Friday, Justice Monica McParland handed down the 14-month sentence, adding that the appropriate sentence should strongly denounce crimes against children.

During sentencing, McParland said Carlson sexually touched the victim on nine different occasions, between 2015 and 2016.

The case garnered national attention this past summer when Carlson's defence, Jacqueline Halliburn, argued McParland should remove herself from the case after the judge reportedly cried when the victim's impact statement was read in court. Justice McParland said she had simply “dabbed a tear from her eye with a tissue,” and chose to stay on the case.

In a victim impact statement, the victim's mother said her daughter suffers from nightmares, anxiety, apprehension of being outside and is fearful of encountering Carlson again.

During sentencing, McParland noted Carlson had a “tumultuous family life,” and has used drugs and sex to cope with difficulties. She has since attended sex offender treatment therapy sessions, which her doctor says has “somewhat reduced” her risk to reoffend.

McParland noted that when it comes to placement of transgender inmates, BC Corrections makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, and if Carlson is initially placed in a male institution, she can apply to be transferred to a female one.

Following the jail sentence, Carlson will be under probation conditions for two years, which includes avoiding parks, playgrounds, community centres or any place where people under 16 may be present, unless with the written permission of her probation officer.

Carlson will be on Canada's national sex offender registry for a 20-year period.

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