With his “fall from grace” complete, Gary Leaman left a Penticton courtroom on Friday under guard and en route to RCMP cells where he was to begin serving a 21-month jail sentence.
Following his release from jail, Leaman, a former Penticton city councillor who pleaded guilty in provincial court in January to two counts of sexual assault, will then be subject to a 27-month probation order.
Details of the offences are covered by a publication ban intended to shield the victims’ identities, but in his reasons for sentence, Judge Gale Sinclair described the offences as “morally reprehensible.”
Sinclair “strongly” recommended the 59-year-old Leaman be assigned to Ford Mountain Correctional Centre in Chilliwack, which offers an 18-month sex offender treatment program.
The judge said he recognized Leaman’s age, past community involvement, lack of a criminal record and efforts to begin treatment on his own as mitigating factors.
“Nonetheless, the fall from grace involved a hard landing here, to say the least,” Sinclair said.
Among the terms of Leaman’s probation are requirements that he remain in B.C. except with permission from his probation officer, and abide by a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. He’ll also be placed on the national sex offender registry.
Leaman issued a wide-ranging apology as he read from a prepared statement before being sentenced.
“I want to share my heartfelt regret for the embarrassment and anger that I’ve caused my former friends, colleagues and the greater community,” he said.
Defence counsel Michael Welsh suggested a jail sentence in the range of seven to 10 months, noting his client pleaded guilty early in the proceedings.
“He’s never shirked responsibility for what he did,” said Welsh, adding Leaman “accepts that he’s the one at fault for having brought this about.”
Welsh also noted his client has been busy acquiring “tools to assist himself so this isn’t going to be an issue again,” including studying Buddhism as “another form of therapy.”
“He’s also been shunned, of course, for what he did,” Welsh continued, “and that’s natural, but he’s been shunned by his friends or his ex-friends, he’s been shunned by his associates, he’s been shunned by the community.”
Crown counsellor Catherine Crockett asked for a sentence of 24 months in jail, followed by three years’ probation.
“The protection of the public is really what these terms speak to,” said Crockett, adding Leaman has shown a “real interest” in moving to Thailand, and “protection of the public has to extend beyond the borders of Canada.”
On the first day of the sentencing hearing in August, a forensic psychiatrist testified that she had diagnosed Leaman with a narcissistic personality disorder, although two other doctors hired by the defence disagreed with that diagnosis.
Leaman served one term as a Penticton city councillor from 2002 to 2005, but was not re-elected, and failed in two subsequent runs at municipal office. He retired in October 2013 from his long-time job as manager of Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.