PENTICTON - A former Penticton man will have to wait to find out his fate following a sentencing hearing today in Penticton court on a charge of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.
Rick D. Allen, 27, has pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the Feb. 23, 2014 offence. Court heard at his sentencing hearing today, Jan. 9, Allen was 24 years old at the time of the offence.
Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji said RCMP were notified on the morning of Feb. 23 after the girl’s mother reported her daughter was missing after sneaking out of the house the previous night. Police eventually pinged the girl’s cellphone, which led them to an address in west-central Penticton where they found the girl at Allen's home. Police arrested Allen, later releasing him with a promise to appear.
Devji said Allen and the 11-year-old girl had met through an internet dating website called Plenty of Fish. The girl told Allen she was 18 years old and they agreed to meet, court heard.
The two met on the evening of Feb. 22 and walked to Allen's residence. Once in his room, the girl agreed to have unprotected sex with Allen. He admitted after meeting her to placing her age at 14 or 15 years old, but he never asked how old she was.
Statements taken from police revealed Allen's roommate asked the girl her age and the roommate believed her when she said she was 18 years old, Devji said.
A pre-sentence and psychiatric report revealed Allen has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Devji noted Allen’s admission regarding the girl’s age and failure to clarify her age raised questions as to his lack of insight about the crime, and his ability to keep out of trouble in the future.
Devji told court Allen did not have a criminal record, nor was there any hint of luring or premeditation on his part to have sex with a minor.
The pre-sentence report evaluated Allen as a low risk to commit further sexual offences, adding there was no underlying pedophilic interest or fantasy involved.
Still, Devji referred to the incident as “a serious act of sexual assault,” asking Judge Meg Shaw to consider a nine- to 12-month jail sentence followed by two years on probation.
Defence lawyer James Pennnington called the procedure “an ugly case” with “an ugly set of facts.”
He said case law with respect to similar court cases was difficult to find, a point also noted by Devji.
Pennington said his client, now living in Vernon, had been in an age-appropriate relationship for the past 18 months, and had a six-month-old child with the woman. His disorders have made finding work difficult but he was doing an excellent job as a stay at home dad, Pennington said.
Pennington conceded his client “wasn’t firing on all cylinders" and wasn’t thinking like a 24-year-old when the incident occurred.
He urged Judge Shaw to issue a 90-day intermittent sentence along with 18 months on probation.
Judge Shaw noted the difficulty both counsel had in presenting case law examples. She reserved judgement, with a date for sentencing to be set next week.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.