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Vernon judge comes down hard on missionary's 'corrective' child beatings

Accused box in Vernon Supreme Court
December 16, 2014 - 7:30 PM

“WHEN CONDUCT BASED ON RELIGIOUS BELIEFS IS CONTRARY WITH THE CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA, THE CRIMINAL CODE MUST PREVAIL”: JUDGE

VERNON - He said he punished his kids so they would never find themselves tangled up in the criminal justice system, like he is now. 

The 42-year-old, who met his wife while doing missionary work in Africa and moved back to start a family with her in the North Okanagan, ‘corrected’ his three children, often by hitting them with a one-and-a-half by 9 inch plastic comb. He said “this is the way the bible tells us to treat children, otherwise they will become liars and prostitutes.” After the assaults, the family would pray together. 

The accused, who cannot be named to protect the identities of his wife and kids, was sentenced to four and a half years in jail by Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole.

In sentencing submissions, Crown counsel Cristina Cabulea said the abuse had a severe and long-lasting affect on the children, just toddlers at the time. She said they suffer nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and have post traumatic stress disorder. The oldest child thinks it’s her fault her father hit her and blames herself for everything that happened. The younger ones are scared to leave the house and are fearful of men.

The wife, who suffered ongoing sexual abuse, has anxiety, fear of men, self esteem issues and an eating disorder. She’s afraid of talking too much; something that annoyed her husband. He once put a butcher’s knife to her lips and said ‘let’s cut that off’ because he complained she was talking too much.

A psychiatric assessment found he had no remorse for his actions. While he was undergoing religious counselling, he did not seek professional help, or anger management treatment, and continually insisted he was innocent. The assessment found no sign of mental illness, and concluded his risk of reoffending was highest in intimate relationships and child rearing.

Defense lawyer Juan O’Quinn said the accused committed the crimes because of his religious beliefs, not because he took pleasure in them.

“It wasn’t random. It was unacceptable, but there was a reason,” O’Quinn said.

Justice Cole said it was an aggravating factor that the assaults took place in the family home, where the wife and kids had a right to feel safe. He called the accused ‘controlling and manipulative’ and said his lack of insight into the crimes was disturbing.

“By beating these children it seems to me he’s sending a message to the children that parents who love their children are entitled to abuse them. Thats just an awful, awful message to send to children,” Cole said, adding society no longer accepts physical punishment as a child rearing tool.

In his sentence, Cole noted religious freedoms are protected by the Canadian charter.

“But when conduct based on religious beliefs is contrary to (and) conflicts with the Criminal Code of Canada, the criminal code must prevail or else we would have anarchy,” Cole said.

When asked if he had anything to say to the court, the accused chose to say a few words. He said he punished his kids so they would never experience what he's going through. 

“I’m willing and ready to be punished because of what my wife said.... I’m sorry if it (teachings of Jesus Christ) is against the court and the whole nation.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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