Kamloops News

Former Salmon Arm optician convicted of sexually assaulting young boy

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO


KAMLOOPS - It's been more than 30 years since a young Salmon Arm boy was sexually assaulted at local optical store by the optician. Yesterday, the then 42-year-old man accused of the crime was convicted.

Kenneth Pilkington, now in his 70s, was found guilty of sexual assault in Kamloops Supreme Court yesterday, Dec. 1. The identity of the victim is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.

Justice Joel Groves poked holes in the Pilkington's testimony from the September trial as he delivered his decision yesterday.

Court heard the victim in the case, who was 14 years old back in the mid-1980s, lived in Salmon Arm with his family when they made a trip to the local optical store at the mall.

Pilkington ran the shop, but his wife worked there on an almost-daily basis. 

After the trip with his family, the boy returned approximately one month later, when Pilkington offered to show him some lens-shaping equipment in the back room, court heard. The boy obliged and Pilkington, the only person in the store at the time, closed the door behind them.

That's when Pilkington stepped behind the boy, reached his hands around and touched the boy's penis over his pants, and "gyrated" behind him.

"He described how he was scared and intimidated," Groves told the court. "He described the gyrating motion from behind as a thrusting motion."

The age of consent at the time of the offence was 14 years old, but Crown prosecutor Carol Hawes argued during trial that no consent was given.

The victim testified the incident lasted for approximately 30 minutes, and that he was so scared, he was unable to move. He testified he didn't try to push away because Pilkington was much bigger than him and he was scared.

He also testified Pilkington never asked for his consent and afterward gave him money, telling him to not say anything to anyone about what had happened at the store.

Groves found Pilkington guilty of one count of sexual assault, but acquitted him of a separate charge of sexual assault, which encompassed alleged incidents following the first act, and a charge of gross indecency. The judge cited inconsistencies in the victim's testimony on those charges.

Pilkington testified during September trial he had a relationship with the victim, but argued it never stemmed from an incident inside his office. Instead, he would routinely pickup the boy — who he was told was 17 years old — when the boy was hitchhiking in the area.

Eventually, Pilkington said, they developed a consensual relationship over time.

Groves said this wasn't likely, especially due to the large age gap between them. The victim also testified during the time period Pilkington said their relationship took place he wasn't living in the area.

"I have considerable problems with the accused's evidence and I do not find him to be believable," Groves said.

The judge also pointed out certain witnesses were not asked questions during direct questioning, which he said possibly could have confirmed some of Pilkington's story.

Groves also said much of the accused's story wasn't put to the victim during cross-examination. He said this gave the impression the story was being made up on the fly in response to the victim's testimony.

Groves called the failure to ask these questions coupled with the story's lack of believability "concerning."

A date for sentencing has not yet been set.

Information relating to how the accused was arrested and when the complainant came forward was not disclosed in court Friday.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 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.

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