Tears flowed from the Penticton man accused of prostituting his step daughter as he testified on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old man who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the girl, is facing 10 charges including sexual assault, living off the avails of prostitution and an adult or guardian procuring sexual activity.
The trial resumed from June with Crown counsel Wendy Kavanagh resting the Crown’s case and defence lawyer James Pennington calling the accused man to the stand. The stepfather vehemently denied ever having any sexual contact with the girl throughout the questioning. He called his stepdaughter his “best friend” and broke down in tears at one point when talking about the broken relationship between him and his stepchildren.
“I hate talking about them because it brings too many emotions. I can’t believe what is going on,” said the man referring to the charges.
The stepfather shed light on what the family’s life was like during the years they bounced from Osoyoos, Penticton, Okanagan Falls, Edmonton and the Vancouver area. The stepfather admitted he occasionally held down a job, but the bulk of his income came from dealing pot, cocaine and heroin. He said the family had no privacy as family and friends constantly were moving into their home to live with them. At one point, when they lived in Osoyoos, up to 10 people resided in their three bedroom home.
Several times the stepfather denied having every touched his stepdaughter, having sex with her or offering her drugs in return for sexual favours. Some of the claims that came from witnesses that testified earlier in the trial in June. The stepfather asked if that activity had been going on why hadn’t any of the people that had been living with them off and on in the different residences call the police on him.
“This is my daughter and I don’t know what world you live in, but if I noticed (expletive) like that I would have called the cops,” said the stepfather.
The stepfather said he decided they needed to get away from Penticton and said his common law wife and stepdaughter and himself each packed a backpack and left for Vancouver. “Dead broke” when they arrived, he said they panhandled to survive, eventually getting back on their feet and holding down jobs while living in the Bollywood Motel in Surrey.
It wasn’t until the family moved back to Penticton from Vancouver that he said he found out his stepdaughter was prostituting. He said it was Spring Break and he took his stepdaughter to Surrey to pick up heroin to bring back to sell. He told the court his stepdaughter said she was going to visit friends while he took care of his business. He left from meeting his heroin supplier and heard a police officer holler his name. The stepfather said he turned a corner around a building and heard his name again and then saw another police car with his daughter sitting in the back seat. He said the police officer informed him they had found a crack pipe on the girl and she was suspected of prostituting. The stepfather said he and the girl got into “a war over that” and she cried promising to not do it again if he didn’t tell her mother. He agreed and told the court he was scared of losing his stepdaughter and best friend, just as he did the other stepchildren who had moved out.
He claimed the girl did not stop once they returned to Penticton and the school became involved, meeting with the girl and her parents about her absence from classes and to talk about sightings of her at the Soupateria bus stop — a well-known place for sex-trade workers to hang out. The stepfather said he couldn’t stop his teenage daughter.
“I knew I couldn’t stop it but I had to make sure she was safe,” he said. “She is 17-years-old she can pretty much do what she wants.”
He made efforts to record licence plates and makes of vehicles she got into but said he did not know if she was going on dates or selling marijuana.
“I got her selling weed so maybe she wouldn’t do prostitution. At least if you go to jail its for weed, whoop de (expletive),” said the stepfather.
The stepfather admitted he only got involved in the girl’s prostitution business on two occasions, once to relay a message on price to his stepdaughter and to one person who owed the girl money. Undercover RCMP officers testified earlier in the trial they documented the stepfather sitting at a picnic table at a local park with the girl and one of the John’s. The John then got up and left with the girl, later returning. The stepfather told the court on Wednesday that he never sat at a picnic table with that John and said he had only gone with the girl to the park so she could go into the John’s apartment to sell weed.
More evidence will be heard on Thursday at Penticton provincial court. Visit www.pentictonwesternnews.com Thursday afternoon for more on this trial or see Friday’s edition of the Penticton Western News.