March 03, 2015 - 6:04 PM
VERNON - Before getting caught secretly filming young girls between 14 and 16 years old undressing on a school trip to Silver Star Mountain Resort, Jason Paur was a popular ski coach, mentor and friend to his students.
That all changed when a trio of girls noticed a Luminex camera hidden in the curtains of their Silver Star chalet in December 2013.
“(One girl) picked it up thinking it was a prank,” Crown counsel Margaret Cissell said during a sentence hearing Tuesday, Mar. 3.
The girls stopped the camera from recording and briefly viewed part of the tape. They saw the camera being set up in one of the other female students’ rooms by their ski coach, Jason Paur. At that point, they notified one of the senior girls, who then informed a chaperone.
Paur, 44, was then escorted to Kelowna by one of the chaperones and subsequently arrested on voyeurism and possession of child pornography charges. The former freelance writer and sports coach has been in custody in the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre’s segregated unit — with 22 hour a day lock-up — ever since.
Three videos were discovered on the camera’s SIM card. The first, an 11-minute video, shows Paur setting up the camera on something between two beds before leaving in a hurry. A young girl enters the frame, looking like she just left the shower. She opens her towel facing the camera, which is placed “such that the focus is on her breasts and genital area” Cissell said. The second video, eight minutes long, is much the same. The third shows three girls walk into the room, one of them in bathing suit bottoms. This video is interrupted at 14 minutes when the girls find the camera.
According to the complainants, on the evenings of Dec. 9 and 10 in 2013, Paur encouraged the girls to return to their rooms after spending time in the hot tub to get ready to do their homework.
“Mr. Paur had already very deliberately set up the camera in the bedroom, returned downstairs, requested, as a supervisor of these young girls, that they go up and do their homework and change,” Cissell said. “He then goes back into the bedroom and removes the camera.”
In victim impact statements, the girls described how they saw Paur not only as a coach, but as a mentor. One student said she “felt cheated out of her senior year” and another stated she spent hours crying about Paur’s decision to “make my teammates and myself victims.”
Given the young age of the victims and Paur’s position of trust and authority, Cissell submitted a recommendation of 18 months in jail to Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi. Paur pleaded guilty and is being sentenced on three of an initial 10 counts against him: secretly observing or recording nudity in a private place, secretly observing or recording nudity or sexual activity, and possession of child pornography. There is no evidence that he transmitted any of the nude images online.
Cissell said the offenses were pre-meditated, making Paur’s moral blameworthiness higher. She also asked the judge to consider a lifetime designation on the sexual offender registry, a ban on using the Internet, and an order for Paur not to attend public places like parks where individuals under 16 may be present.
Paur’s lawyer Richard Barton outlined several mitigating factors for Takahashi to consider. He said Paur was cooperative from the start, having owned up to the events after they occurred. It was his idea to contact the Bush School administration for direction on how to proceed, Barton said, and he saved the complainants the stress of a trial with his guilty pleas.
Barton added Paur was a popular subsitute teacher and coach who was selected to give the commencement address at a 2006 graduation ceremony. He said his client loved coaching kids and is “devastated by the knowledge he’s let down and hurt those same people.”
Barton read from several character references, including Paur’s father who died while his son was in custody. Paur, who maintained a neutral composure during most of the hearing wiped tears on his red prison sweatshirt as he listened to Barton read the character references. Paur took an opportunity to apologize to the court directly.
“I would like to say I’m profoundly sorry for all the pain and suffering I’ve caused. I take full responsibility for my actions,” Paur said. “I’ve struggled to try and find the words that are adequate to describe… the regret I have, and how I wish that my bad decisions had not caused so much sorrow. I’m completely ashamed of my behaviour and have just been totally consumed by remorse for what I did.”
Paur held his face in his hands and rubbed his eyes following his address. Barton argued Paur should receive a credit towards his sentence for time already served. Measured as time and a half because Paur was held in the segregated unit, that would equal 671 days.
The sentence hearing took considerably longer than the court time allotted, and was adjourned after two-and-a-half hours Tuesday afternoon. A new time to finish the hearing will be scheduled on Mar. 4.
Paur is facing extradition to the U.S. immediately after the conclusion of his sentence hearing to answer to similar offences. Click here for previous stories.
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