Girl faced years of sex abuse


In painstaking detail Tuesday in Penticton court, a young Okanagan Falls woman recounted six years of sexual abuse and rape she endured at the hands of her stepfather.

The man, who cannot be named under a publication ban to protect his victim, pleaded guilty in July 2017 to sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under 16.

He appeared Tuesday for sentencing, but disputed the age at which he started sexually abusing his stepdaughter, forcing her to take the stand to testify in detail Tuesday.

The now 19-year-old victim appeared via closed circuit TV from a separate room in the Penticton courthouse, while her abuser sat in-custody in the courtroom.

She told Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji her stepfather moved in with her mother when she was about nine years old after her biological father left the picture.

Starting around the age of 10, she said the accused would start to get uncomfortably cozy with her when the two sat on the couch watching TV.

Groping on top of the clothes progressed to beneath clothing and molestation by age 11.

She said the sexual assaults usually occurred in the living room on the couch, which is where he first raped her. As she was falling asleep, she said the accused climbed on top of her and entered her with his penis.

“I pretended to sleep because I didn’t want to look at what was going on,” she said, adding “it hurt, a lot.”

She said she didn’t tell her mother, because “I thought it was wrong, and that she would be mad at me.”

After that from Grade 6 on, she said her stepfather would have sex with her “more than once a week,” whenever her mother was at work.

She never told her mother, or any adult.

“I thought about it, but then I found out that my mom was going to have my brother, so I knew I couldn’t say anything,” she said. “I didn’t want my brother to not to have a dad in his life.”

She told a couple friends, but nothing ever came of it. In Grade 10, at the encouragement of a friend, she called her stepdad and threatened to call the police if the sexual abuse didn’t stop. He said on the phone he would stop, but didn’t.

She remained terrified of telling an adult, "maybe an adult would just ruin the family, they would blame it on me, I don’t know,” she said.

She said she continued to be sexually abused until the end of Grade 11, when the police became involved.

Her sister mentioned the situation to her grandmother, who sat her down and asked if her stepfather had ever touched her inappropriately.

“I said, how did you know?” she testified. “Because I never told anyone.” She said she had planned on telling the police or her family once she moved away to go to university and was removed from the situation.

Under cross examination, defence lawyer Jim Pennington prodded the victim about the timelines of when the abuse occurred, and asked her why she would continue to go anywhere near her stepfather while this was occurring.

“I’m going to suggest to you that [accused] would be sitting there on the couch watching TV, and you are the one that would plunk yourself on the couch beside him,” Pennington said.

“No,” she replied

“You say that never happened?” he pressed.

“Sometimes, I guess I sat down because you know I’d want to hang out with a father figure,” she said, adding she would sit at the opposite end of the couch.

Although the accused has already pleaded guilty, Judge Gregory Koturbash needs to rule on the timelines of from what age the sexual abuse occurred. Outside the courtroom, Devji said that ruling will somewhat inform sentencing — as the accused maintains he didn’t start the sexual abuse until age 15, not 11 like the victim claims.

Submissions on the length of sentence for the stepfather will likely be made at a later date.

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