An 82-year-old man has been sentenced to 51/2 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 in the province.
The attacks began in 2009 when the victim was 10 and the accused was 77. They ended in 2013 when she disclosed the abuse to her mother and they went to the RCMP.
Provincial court Judge Mary Curtis blasted the man during a sentencing hearing Monday and rejected his bid for a lenient penalty, 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 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 suffers from nightmares and emotional trauma. Curtis applauded her for her "courage" in speaking out.
"She must know that none of this is her fault," she said.
The accused wanted a prison sentence as short as three years, citing his quick guilty plea as a sign of remorse.
He had no criminal record before the charges were laid.
"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 but the girl kept quiet because of his control over her.
"He defended himself by telling her he was not hurting, but helping her," said Curtis. "He told her what he was doing was out of love for her."
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 gone to him rather than report the attacks to police. He also said he's not a bad person because "I have the support of God."
The judge gave him 19 months' credit for the 13 months he spent in custody. As a result, he must spend 47 months in prison.
He will be placed on the national sex-offender registry.