Penticton dad pleased with jail term for son’s abuser

But victim's father still intends to carry on with lawsuit against Okanagan Skaha School District

Rene Burke

Rene Burke

A Penticton father said he plans to continue his lawsuit against the school district now that the man who sexually assaulted his teenage son has been sentenced.

“The one thing I am looking for is, ‘I’m sorry, we screwed up on our end,’ and I haven’t gotten that.

“I’ll let them get on the stand and they can justify it that way.

“They would rather hide behind court,” said the father of the victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban. “Not one of them (from the school district) have the decency to say I’m sorry to my son.”

Rene Mark Bernard Burke was sentenced on Thursday to 40 months for touching a young person for a sexual purpose and had an extra three months tacked on for two breaches.

It is alleged that in 2011 Burke took over custodial care of the teen in the Okanagan Skaha School District’s eyes, without the biological father’s knowledge or permission, by signing a transfer request to another school.

The father has filed action against the school district in small-claims court over the matter.

He said they will return in October for a pre-trial conference, with the trial slated to start in January.

“If the school didn’t sign him over I think I could have stopped four or five of those (sexual encounters),” said the father outside the Penticton courthouse.

Burke took the 16-year-old into his home providing him with alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, grooming the teen to do whatever the man said.

That included four to six sexual encounters, during which Burke instructed the teen that he needed the protein from the boy’s semen to treat a medical condition.

After being arrested and released under strict conditions to not contact the teen, Burke sent a text message to the boy within days and provided him with alcohol.

A victim impact statement provided to the court by the father describes the teen as having suicidal thoughts, no longer trusting anyone and hiding his pain behind alcohol and drugs.

Outside the courthouse the father said his son is starting to get better and “turn his life around.”

Burke, who pled guilty to the charges, previously stated through his counsel that he hopes the teen can re-establish a relationship with his family and move on from this.

Judge Meg Shaw said in her decision that Burke has a prior record which includes a conviction for gross indecency while in Sudbury, Ont., in the mid-80s and a conviction for sexual exploitation in 2007, also in Ontario, for which he served 18 months.

Burke will have 20.5 months left remaining behind bars followed by three years of probation.

Part of his conditions include no contact with his victim or the father, no contact with anyone under 16 and not to be alone with anyone under 16 except for incidental contact where a member of the public is present or while at work.

Burke also will be on the sex offender registry for 20 years.