August 11, 2014 - 4:44 PM
VERNON - A former missionary and pastor who 'corrected' his children by beating them with a comb and who forced himself on their mother was found guilty of assault with a weapon and sexual assault in Vernon Supreme Court Monday.
The North Okanagan man, aged 42, met the complainant while the two were doing missionary work in Africa. The woman’s name, and those of her children, are protected by court order. To ensure their identities remain concealed, the accused’s name will not be published either.
The accused and the complainant eventually moved to the North Okanagan and stayed with the woman’s mother before getting an apartment of their own in the area.
Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole detailed a series of ten assaults against the children over several years up until 2012 when the complainant fled the house with her kids, seeking refuge at a women’s shelter.
The assaults included hitting their three-year-old daughter in 2009 with a comb because she was crying, saying she “had to respect him.” When the complainant asked him to stop, he shushed her. She said the beating, executed with “a very strong force” left red welts on the child’s head.
On another occasion, the accused slapped the child across the face and asked the other children to fetch the comb. He told the complainant this is what the bible called for to prevent children from growing up to be prostitutes.
In 2009, the couple’s son, a toddler at the time, pooped himself and earned a blow to the head from the accused. Later that year, the boy dropped his toy box and as punishment, the accused covered his mouth and nose with his hands. Other assaults against the boy also involved the comb. The complainant said her son’s fingers were swollen and sore after being struck with it.
If the kids played outside and fell, the accused would ‘correct’ them, so much so the complainant said they never wanted to go outside. Even if their mother wanted to seek help for them, she said she was scared of him and afraid he’d take the kids away, potentially all the way to Africa. He told her anyone who tried to take his children away from him would go to hell.
Cole also detailed multiple sexual assaults the accused committed against the complainant. One day in 2010 the complainant arrived home after work and the accused told her he needed sex. He put the children in front of the television, gave them some snacks, and brought her to the bedroom where he forced himself upon her while the kids kicked against the closed door. This happened several more times, the complainant testifying she was in pain during the assaults but let him do it so she could get back to caring for the children. She said she was ashamed at being used by him.
In July 2012, she was rocking one of her children to bed when the accused sat beside her and tried to put his penis in her mouth. She told him she didn’t want to, but he held her head still and succeeded in his attempt.
“The child was in her arms still sleeping,” Cole said.
The complainant said she never went to police because the accused had a good reputation in the community and in the church.
“The evidence of the complainant is after the assaults of the children they would pray together as a family and he would ask forgiveness,” Cole said.
A friend described watching the complainant become nervous and scared. The complainant’s mother said her daughter was not herself, and added the children appeared to be prisoners in the apartment. The accused denied the allegations, saying the complainant hit the children more than he did and that he only hit them to correct them.
In his decision, Cole said the complainant was a reliable witness but the accused had “no credibility whatsoever.”
Cole found the accused guilty on multiple counts of assaulting the children, saying the violence was beyond the boundaries of corrective force. He said the assaults with the comb constituted assault with a weapon.
He also found the accused guilty of sexually assaulting the complainant because she did not consent to the acts.
Cole found the accused not guilty on a count of uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm to the complainant and issued a stay of proceedings on two counts of assault.
The accused is expected to appear for a sentence hearing Tuesday morning. He was not present in court for the judge’s decision Monday, nor was his lawyer Juan O’Quinn. Lawyer Shane Dugas, representing the accused on behalf of O’Quinn, said the date of the hearing had been changed and no one had been able to reach the accused. Crown lawyer Cristina Cabulea was also in attendance.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014