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A Penticton man will spend the next four years in prison for molesting his then-common law spouse’s children for months in the latter half of 2016.
The man, who cannot be named due to a publication ban on any information that might identify the young victims, had pleaded guilty in February after he was arrested on Nov. 21 last year over a string of sexual assaults on his stepdaughters, aged 12 and nine at the time.
The four-year sentence came at the high end of the sentencing range proposed by lawyers in a hearing in early November. Crown sought four years, while defence was seeking two for the crimes.
In summer 2016, the man began groping two girls, with whom he had been living, along with his common law spouse at the time, for about five years, and whom he had known for about 12 years. At the sentencing Judge Michelle Daneliuk said the incidents started with the man grabbing the older girl’s thigh and progressed to fondling her breasts, digital penetration of her vagina and later felatio.
“The exact number of incidents was a bit uncertain in the statement of (the older daughter), but it was clear that these events occurred on multiple occasions.”
However, according to the girl’s statement, felatio occurred between two and four times.
Her younger sister was not spared from persistent sexual touching and harassment from their stepfather, who repeatedly climbed into bed with her, touched her vaginal area and attempting to get her to touch his penis.
She resisted his advances, but the sexual assaults were so frequent she resorted to setting up a booby trap in her room that would shoot a Nerf gun at intruders.
In sentencing, Daneliuk pointed to the major effect the assaults had on the girls and their mother, who had to move to another town to stay with family after losing income from the man.
Both girls said in victim impact statements they have struggled with trust issues, nightmares and mental health since the assault, while the mother lamented a strained relationship with her daughters.
The young age of the victims and the man’s relationship with them in a position of trust are automatically considered aggravating factors in sentencing.
Daneliuk also noted extraordinary remorse from the man since the assaults came to light.
After he was arrested, the man was reportedly co-operative with the investigation, confessing immediately, and he also entered an early guilty plea.
An early guilty plea on its own is considered a mitigating factor in sentencing as a common test of remorse, but Daneliuk pointed to the man’s remorseful behaviour beyond his interactions with the legal system as noteworthy on its own.
The man has reportedly struggled with suicidal thoughts and mental health since the incident, and has attempted to get help through therapy, but has not found proper therapy as of yet.
“Counsel for (the man) commented that in the 30 years he has been practicing criminal defence, he has never seen a client contrite as (the man),” Daneliuk said.
“(The man) took full responsibility for his actions, and appeared as though he understood the effect on his victims, not only those on the children but also on the mother.”
Daneliuk handed the man 30 months for one count of sex assault and 18 months for another count, adding up to a total of four years in a federal prison.
Because he has been convicted of two assaults, even if committed simultaneously, he will be on the sex offender registry for life, rather than 20 years.