Summerland lifeguard could get five years for sex crimes - InfoNews

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Summerland lifeguard could get five years for sex crimes

Former Summerland lifeguard Edward Casavant was sentenced on several sex counts in Penticton court today, Dec. 9, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RCMP
December 09, 2019 - 5:06 PM

A Summerland lifeguard could face five years in jail for sex-related offences discovered during the purchase of a new computer.

Edward Rupert Joseph Casavant entered guilty pleas on four counts including possession of child pornography, secretly recording nudity in a private place, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability and making or publishing child pornography in July this year.

He was arrested after an investigation which began a year ago after a retail store employee in Penticton found child porn on Casavant’s computer while transferring files to a new one Casavant had just purchased.

Casavant has been in custody since his arrest on May 15 this year. He originally faced 10 counts related to incidents that took place between 2008 and 2014, some of which occurred at the Summerland Aquatic Centre.

Crown prosecutor Dorothy Tsui told court the 55-year-old Casavant had ready access to children while working as a lifeguard at the Summerland Aquatic Centre from 1983 to November of 2018.

He also worked as a contract lifeguard for schools and summer camps and had an early childhood education certificate which allowed him to provide overnight care for children.

Police began an investigation after seizing two computers from Staples in Penticton on Nov. 19, 2018. They were called by the manager after an employee found evidence of child porn on an old computer Casavant had left at the store in order to transfer its files to a new unit he had just purchased.

Police found photos of nude children at the Summerland Aquatic Centre, in addition to video images of naked children in the change room. 

Tsui said Casavant had clipped a spy camera to a clipboard, covering it with paper and to secretly record change room activities for a period of between 10 and 15 years.

In another incident, Casavant was providing respite care for an autistic five-year-old when allegations of sexual touching surfaced in 2014.

Police investigated at the time, but couldn’t bring charges against Casavant.

Police reviewed the case again in 2019 and found photo stills of an eight-year in a sex act and later confirmed the boy was the one Casavant had been providing care for.

Tsui said Casavant had provided respite care for a number of other families over the years, but an extensive police investigation has so far failed to turn up any more complaints.

Police found 62 pornographic images and 415 videos on four of Casavant’s computers, including 130 images and 59 videos of a less pornographic nature.

Tsui said Casavant's pre-sentence and psychiatric reports indicated Casavant presented a higher than normal risk to re-offend. She said Casavant preferred boys aged five to 15 and professed to "not seeing himself with someone his own age" in a sexual relationship.

She asked Judge Lisa Wyatt for a sentence totalling five years for Casavant, calling the request a joint submission.

Defence lawyer Don Skogstad said his client faced a "publicity factor" following his arrest in May, attracting Canada-wide publicity. He said his client waived a bail hearing and release option in addition to issuing early guilty pleas to spare his victims.

Skogstad said his client had worked at the Summerland Aquatic Centre and at summer camps in the region for years, and no other victims of his have been found or have come forward, saying his client had been "incredibly candid to his own disadvantage" in cooperating with the authorities.

Skogstad described his client as a loner, maladapted and socially isolated, who came from a "dysfunctional, abusive and alcoholic" family.

He said Casavant had "never fit in," struggled since his teens with his sexuality and depression, and was "like a perpetual child in many ways."

Skogstad said his client had never meant to get abusive with his autistic victim but developed a "bond of caring he'd never had before" that led to his sexual desires and behaviour with the boy.

Casavant also spoke to the court, issuing an "apology without reservation."

Casavant's voice broke several times as he issued a specific apology to his victim telling the court he misused his authority and broke a trust.

Judge Wyatt reserved her decision with the next hearing date to be scheduled through the judicial case manager's office.


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