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Former Salmon Arm parents spared criminal records for 'excessive corporal punishment'

Salmon Arm Law Courts
May 10, 2016 - 5:33 PM


SALMON ARM - A mother and father found guilty of assaulting their teenage daughter with a miniature hockey stick and a skipping rope as punishment for sending nude photos on SnapChat won't be burdened with a criminal record for their actions.

The parents, who were found guilty of assault with a weapon in relation to the Feb. 14, 2015 offence, were sentenced today, May 10, in Salmon Arm Provincial Court, to a conditional discharge with a year-long probation. If they abide by conditions, they will not face a criminal record.

The parents cannot be named by court order to protect the identity of their daughter.

Crown counsel Marianne Armstrong asked for a conditional sentence, also known as house arrest, for two to three months based on the need to deter others from committing a similar crime. She also doubted the parents feel genuine remorse for the harm inflicted on their daughter and said the beating was done with enough force to leave bruising and swelling. In handing down a guilty verdict earlier this year, Judge E.F. De Walle called the spanking "excessive corporal punishment."

Defence lawyer Ian McTavish said while the spanking was wrong, it was done with the best of intentions. He said the parents were deeply concerned after discovering their daughter was sexting someone, and wanted to prevent her from doing it ever again. He alluded to the well known case of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, stating the parents in this case never wanted to see anything like that happen to their daughter.

McTavish added their daughter never complained about the spanking, or felt she was the victim of assault. She told her friends, who then told the school principal — she never actually reported the spanking herself.

“She puts it this way: ‘Throughout all of this no one has listened to me at all…. Everything is okay, but no one is listening to what I have to say,’” McTavish said, reading from a letter.

He said she has suffered shame and embarrassment due to the criminal charges against her parents and the court proceedings. McTavish noted how judge E.F. De Walle’s judgement, in which he found the parents guilty of assault with a weapon, has been broadcast in numerous news reports across the country. He brought a stack of printed comments about an inch thick from various news articles, and pointed out that Canadians have a wide range of viewpoints on what an acceptable means of disciplining a child is.

Some believe there should be no restriction at all, while others believe any physical punishment is wrong, he said. With the high profile nature of this case, he said people across the country have a much better understanding of the law as it relates to disciplining children.

“That is the value of this case,” McTavish said.

McTavish also read numerous letters of support which characterized the parents as caring, loving people who value family and Christian morals, and are highly involved in volunteer work, both in sports, school and other areas of the community.

Armstrong had also noted the Ministry of Children and Families investigated the case but found no reason to remove any of the children from the home.

“There is the sense that the safety of the children is not in jeopardy,” Armstrong said.

As part of their probation, the parents are banned from using corporal punishment on any child in their care under the age of 18.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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