The Penticton teen who suffered sexual abuse and was forced into prostitution by her stepfather sat quietly in the court as he was sentenced on Monday, but the judge spoke for her.
“This case is particularly tragic,” said Judge Gregory Koturbash.
He said the man was viewed as a true parental figure to the teen, who called him ‘dad’ at a young age despite him not being her biological father. Koturbash said the man used her for his own financial gratification and allowed others to abuse her so he could feed his own drug habit and sexual urges. He said the sexual abuse occurred in the girl’s own home, in her own bed, where a child should feel safe.
“He denied her childhood, he took her dignity and her family and he took her mother. (The stepdaughter) said he abused his right as a father,” said Crown counsel Wendy Kavanagh, who read portions of the teen’s victim impact statement. “‘He destroyed my soul, my self-esteem and most of my dreams.’ She will live with the consequences of that most of her life.”
The man, who cannot be named due to a court publication ban in order to protect his teenage stepdaughter’s identity, was appearing by video from North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre for his sentencing. He decided he had heard enough of what the judge had to say after learning he was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years behind bars.
“I’m done,” he said and covered the camera in the small cell he was placed in for the sentencing by video.
When he finally did uncover the camera, he sat with his back turned and slumped over in his chair with his hands on his face. Although sentenced to nine-and-a-half years, the man will serve seven-and-a-half years total, as he was given credit for time served since he was arrested in July 2011.
The man testified during the trial in August that he was innocent, and even after being found guilty of the 10 charges that included sexual assault, living off the avails of prostitution and a parent or guardian procuring sexual activity, he continued to show signs of protest on Monday.
The stepdaughter, now 18, said she started being sexually abused when she was just 12 years old while she lived with her stepfather and mother in Osoyoos, and this carried on when they moved to Okanagan Falls and later Penticton. She testified it was while they were living in Surrey, over a period of six months in 2011, that her stepfather forced her into prostitution. That activity continued from the bus stop at the Soupateria when the family moved back to Penticton. High school officials realized something was afoot with the girl and her family, and eventually an undercover RCMP operation led to the arrest of the man in July 2011.
The stepfather was shaking his head in defiance often during sentencing on Monday when Crown and the judge referred to evidence in the trial about his involvement in the teen stepdaughter’s sex-trade work. Judge Koturbash agreed with the Crown’s assertion that the man was the “mastermind” behind his teen stepdaughter’s prostitution and used threats and drugs to keep her involved.
Defence counsel James Pennington sought enhanced credit for time already served waiting for trial. He argued the man had been under some duress because he was not receiving adequate care to treat his diabetes. Pennington added the man was put into protective custody and under lock down for 23 hours a day because of the media coverage during the trial. The judge decided that some enhanced credit was applicable, but only because of the wait for certain reports to be concluded, and that there was no evidence before him about a lack of adequate health care or that he was denied general privileges in jail.
The stepfather was further shaken when the judge proceeded to start sentencing on a separate matter, a drug charge for possession of heroin. He began swearing and ordering his lawyer to take it trial, even though he entered a guilty plea to the charge on Oct. 29, 2012.
“It was hers. If I am going to do nine-and-a-half years, the truth will come out, it was all about the drugs. I’m not pleading guilty to that,” the stepfather blurted out.
“You are all about the truth. Let’s find out the (expletive) truth.”
That matter has been put over to April 24 to fix a date, the man also asked his lawyer to bring forward charges that stem out of Alberta at that time.
The man also earlier entered a guilty plea to breach of conditions for speaking with his stepdaughter and the teen’s mother while he was on a no-contact order. There was evidence of over 20 recorded telephone calls coming from the man while he was in pre-trial custody at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, ranging from general conversation to more detailed information about the case.
As part of his sentencing on the 10 charges, the man is to have no contact with his stepdaughter while he is in jail and is on a 20-year sex offender order.