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Trial begins for Vernon foster father accused of sexual abuse

Witness box in Vernon Supreme Court
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
August 09, 2016 - 9:00 PM


VERNON - A Vernon man has pleaded not guilty to a number of sexual abuse allegations brought forward by two siblings fostered by him when they were children.

The complainants, now 18- and 19-years-old, say they were sexually abused by their foster father between the collective years of 2006 and 2013. Their names are protected by court order. In order to protect their identities, the name of the accused cannot be published.

The man’s trial began today, Aug. 9, in Vernon Supreme Court before Justice Patrice Abrioux. Crown lawyer Iain Currie began by calling the youngest sister, who now identifies as a man, as his first witness.

The complainant testified he started getting abused by his foster father when he was around 8-years-old. The abuse involved sexual touching, hand jobs and oral sex, and normally occurred when his foster mother was out of the house, he alleged.

He said he didn’t tell police or his foster mother about the abuse because he didn’t think they would believe him. He also hid what happened from his older sister because "it probably would have destroyed her."

“It’s always been a giant weight on my shoulders since I moved out, since it first started,” he said.

While he didn’t come forward to police with the accusations until 2014, after he’d moved out of the house, he testified that on at least one previous occasion he did tell a counsellor he was being sexually assaulted and nothing was done about it.

During cross examination, defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen suggested the complainant made up the allegations out of anger at being made to leave the home in 2013.

“I’m suggesting you did this out of spite,” Verdurmen said.

Court heard the complainant was made to leave the home in 2013 because a sick relative was moving in.

While the complainant agreed it was devastating to leave the home, in part because his younger brother was still in the house, he insisted he did not make up the allegations.

Verdurmen asked the complainant why he stayed home with the accused while his foster mother and most of the other children in the house were gone. The complainant said he stayed to protect his younger brother, who was also in the house.

Verdurmen also pointed out inconsistencies with dates and timelines between the complainant’s police statements and previous court testimony, and asked why he didn’t seem to remember everything clearly.

“Because it’s something you push out of your head, especially when it’s something like this. It makes you feel like crap all the time,” the complainant said.

The accused faces a total of seven charges, including sexual interference of a minor, invitation to sexual touching, and sexual exploitation.

The trial continues this week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 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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