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This article was published 24/7/2017 (1111 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He was a father figure, one who gave a young girl an escape route out of a group home she wanted to leave and sexually abused her in the process. Now, in a case that has prompted a judge to remark on the "apparent never-ending cycle" of the abused becoming abusers, the 41-year-old man has been sentenced to five years in prison.
He was 38 in May 2013, when he harboured the 13-year-old ward of Child and Family Services without telling her legal guardian where she was. He gave her alcohol and drugs until she passed out, had sex with her in his home in a small community in Manitoba, and took her on a road trip across Western Canada in his truck. While authorities searched for her, he continued to sexually abuse her.
"What occurred during the trip to B.C. in the spring of 2013 had the effect of stealing the innocence of the victim. In this case, it's not only the past that you have stolen (from the victim) ... but you continue to steal her present and her future as well," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheldon Lanchbery said as he imposed the five-year sentence Monday for one count of sexual interference. The Crown had been seeking six to seven years while defence lawyer Ryan Amy asked for two years less a day in jail and three years of probation.
The Free Press is not identifying the attacker or the town where they lived because it could identify his victim to many people.
When the girl was a baby, the accused was in a relationship with her mother, and he stayed in her life as a father figure, court heard. She turned to him to get out of her foster-care placement and he "took advantage" of her, for which he later apologized in a letter his lawyer read aloud in court Monday.
"I know I took advantage of you at an extremely vulnerable point in your life and have no doubt in my mind that I've caused you a lot of mental, emotional and psychological trauma. If I could, I would take it all back. I hope that you find the healing and the help to deal with the damage I caused you," he wrote.
The accused disclosed that he was sexually abused as a child, but that his parents initially didn't believe him, and that during his youth, he had committed sexual offences against others.
"It is easy to protect your own family by denying that there may be skeletons in your own closet," Lanchbery said, commenting on the accused's allegations of childhood abuse that his family at first denied.
"We now know that by allowing those allegations to be denied, the problem that existed has festered and grown out of proportion."
The judge emphasized that despite the abuse the accused suffered, he "placed the victim on the very road that's causing him trouble."
"I do not know how many times I have commented upon the apparent never-ending cycle of abused persons continuing the cycle of sexual assault that has been experienced by them," Lanchbery said. "Far too many people victimize the most vulnerable in our society. For whatever reason, children are treated as playthings. The victim in this case deserved far better... especially (from the accused), who was responsible for her."
Manitoba has one of the highest rates of sexual offences against children in Canada, according to a Statistics Canada report that used data from 2012. The report found the rates of child sexual abuse that was reported to Canadian police were highest in the three territories, followed by Manitoba with 316 reports per 100,000 people and Saskatchewan with 306 per 100,000.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.
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