Taking suggestive photos of his stepdaughter has landed a Keremeos area man in jail for nine months.
“I don’t know where to start,” said the man when asked by the judge if he had anything to say. “I’m thoroughly disgusted with myself.”
The man, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban on the victim’s name, pled guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced by Judge Brad Chapman at the Penticton provincial courthouse on Monday. Charges of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, possession of child porn, mischief and two breaches were stayed.
On Sept. 30, 2008 pictures of the naked girl were brought to the RCMP’s attention. The victim told police that the pictures were taken by the man she knew as her stepfather for 14 years.
The stepfather explained to RCMP he took the photo with a digital camera through a hole left open from uninstalled ducting in the living room that went into the bathroom. He said he took it just as a joke and snapped it without even looking in that direction. RCMP were also told the man printed off a copy to show his wife, deleted it off the camera and left the printed photo in a barrel outside to dispose of. He said friends of the girl must have taken it out of the barrel and that he was just trying to have harmless fun.
Defence council James Pennington said “nudity was commonplace” in the family’s residence, and with no door on the bathroom, it wasn’t unusual for the man to see his wife or stepdaughter naked. However, the victim said her stepfather had taken the photo from the hallway as she stepped out of the shower.
Judge Chapman decided, contrary to what the man said, it doesn’t appear as though the photo was taken through a hole in the wall and seemed “somewhat more purposeful and directed than just that.”
The victim told RCMP that ever since her parents put her in home-schooling she felt isolated from her friends. It was because of this she agreed to play strip blackjack or poker with her stepfather in exchange for time on the internet to communicate with her peers. Crown counsel Catherine Crockett told the court the girl said she had lost about six times, having to strip down naked, and that she had observed her step-father naked when he lost the game. The man admitted to RCMP of playing the game, stating he had only gone down to his underwear.
The girl told police the game also involved doing dares, and how one time she had to run around the house naked or in her bra and on another occasion she was dared to put ice cubes in her underwear or bra but she didn’t go through with it.
Days after the man’s arrest in 2008, his wife found two more pictures in his briefcase and turned them over to RCMP. One picture showed the stepdaughter sleeping in the back of the man’s semi-truck and the other showed a hand pulling down the girl’s pajama bottoms, exposing her pubic area. The mother said she recognized the hand as her husband’s because it clearly showed his wedding ring.
Pennington said he was advised by his client that the parents had many difficulties with the daughter regarding boys and her sexual behaviour. The man said he took the girl on the road with him because she was inviting boys over while her parents were away at work.
In his explanation, the stepfather said he was trying to put the bottoms back on the girl and had taken the photos to show his wife the sexualized behaviour she was conducting.
“I can see no reason for a parent to take photos of a 15-year-old as in the case put before me,” said Chapman.
The judge said the man has shown little remorse over how his actions affected the girl, and he should have been more “attuned” to them since the psychological report showed the man had himself been a victim of sexual assault by his own father. The report also said a daughter he had from a previous marriage was sexually abused by the man’s father (her grandfather) who was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Chapman said the pre-sentence report identifies a man who convinced his wife that it was his use of alcohol and drugs combined with his stepdaughter’s uninhibited behaviour that led him to make poor decisions.
The man also received two years probation with a number of conditions including no contact with the victim, not to be alone or in the presence with anyone under the age of 18 unless with an adult approved of in advance by the probation officer, not to consume alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol in the presence of anyone under 18 years and he will be on the sex offender registry for 20 years.