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5.5-year sentence for man who sexually assaulted granddaughter

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An 82-year-old man has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for repeatedly sexually abusing his granddaughter while living on a Manitoba Hutterite colony.

Justice officials say the case is unique because of the advanced age of the accused when the crimes occurred. As a result, he is believed to be one of the oldest sex offenders ever caught in the province.

The attacks began in 2009 when the victim was just 10 and the accused was 77. They ended in 2013 when she disclosed the abuse to her mother and they went to RCMP.

Provincial court Judge Mary Curtis blasted the elderly man during a sentencing hearing on Monday, saying he committed the ultimate breach of trust.

"His actions were solely for his own personal sexual gratification," she said. "He stole the remainder of her childhood."

Curtis noted how the senior began targeting the girl shortly after her father – his son – died of cancer.

The name of the accused can’t be published to avoid identifying the victim, who told court she still suffers from nightmares and emotional trauma. 

The man was seeking to be sentenced to as little as three years behind bars, citing his quick guilty plea as a sign of true remorse. He has no prior criminal record.

"He will never have to live with, and deal with, the scars of his actions as long as his granddaughter will," said Curtis.

The accused was working on the Hutterite colony as a massage therapist and began molesting the girl under the guise of treating her, court was told.

His attacks intensified over the years but were kept quiet because of the grandfather’s control over the victim.

"He defended himself by telling her he was not hurting, but helping her," said Curtis.

A court-ordered report shows the senior still has little insight into what he did, at one point telling probation officials his granddaughter should have just come to him rather than report the attacks to police.

He has spent almost 13 months in custody since his arrest, which was given enhanced credit of 19 months by Curtis. As a result, he has another 47 months left to serve going forward. He will also be placed on the national sex offender registry.

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