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Why a jury found a Vernon man guilty of raping his daughter, but not of incest

Vernon Supreme Court
February 20, 2015 - 2:29 PM

VERNON - A Vernon man continues to show no remorse for years of sexual abuse on his daughter and her friend and that got him some extra time in prison.

The man, who cannot be named by court order to protect the identity of his daughter, was originally charged with three counts of sexual assault—two against his daughter and one against her friend—as well as a count of incest. But despite evidence the girl was his biological daughter, and that he had sexual intercourse with her, the jury found him not guilty of incest.

During sentencing submissions Thursday, Feb. 19, Crown counsel Shirley Meldrum said part of the requirement for a guilty incest verdict is to establish the accused was aware of his relation to the victim. That could have been accomplished easily enough by questioning him on the stand, but Meldrum admitted she never pointedly asked him if he knew he was the victim’s biological father.

“One of the elements was knowledge and I failed to prove that,” Meldrum said.

The jury did find him guilty of sexually assaulting his daughter over a four-year period, starting when she was just 12 years old. The girl, now in her late 20s, testified her father raped her approximately twice a week when she was a child. The girl faces mental challenges and described the events in a blunt manner, Meldrum said.

The jury also found the man guilty of sexually assaulting his daughter’s friend, who stayed at the home for about a month in the summer of 2001.

“There’s no remorse on the part of (the accused)….” Meldrum said. “He denies any of this is true.”

During a psychiatric assessment, the man held fast to his innocence, saying his daughter made the whole thing up. He also insisted upon his innocence in a prior conviction against a different daughter in 1982. The psychiatrist put him at a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

Meldrum asked Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames to consider a jail term of between five and eight years for the assaults against the accused’s daughter, plus a year for the offence against her friend.

Defence lawyer Juan O’Quinn noted the not guilty verdict on the incest charge convoluted things for Beames because case law—historical cases used to provide a baseline for sentencing—have typically considered incest when determining the length of prison time. O’Quinn also took time to point out a trend toward steeper punishments in cases of sexual abuse involving young, vulnerable victims, which has seen courts impose longer jail terms over recent years.

“I think that’s a recognition that the way society views these offences has changed,” O’Quinn said.

Had his client been prosecuted in the late 1990s, he likely would have gotten two years after an appeal, O’Quinn argued. In today’s climate, however, he said a prison term of five-and-a-half years was appropriate.

Before Justice Beames gave her decision, she asked the accused if he had anything to say. He took the opportunity to profess his innocence, both in the current proceedings, and the prior conviction from 1982.

Beames said the young age of the victims, the prior offence against another child, and the position of parental trust that was breached by the accused aggravated the situation. She could find no mitigating factors of significance.

“He continues, including in his remarks to me this morning, to deny his guilt….” Beames said. “He has no remorse and as a result, has poor prospects for treatment and rehabilitation.”

Noting the escalation in recent years of jail terms imposed in similar cases, Beames said an appropriate sentence was six years for the assaults against his daughter, plus six months for the offence against her friend. She granted him 21 months of credit for time already served in custody.

Beames also ordered a DNA sample, a 10-year firearms prohibition, and lifetime designation on the sexual offender registry. The accused is also banned from being in the presence of any person under the age of 16 unless supervised by another adult.

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, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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