VERNON - A Vernon man in his early twenties who met two 15-year-old girls on the website MeetMe showed a “pattern of behaviour” of developing relationships with young women, the Crown said today during his sentence hearing.
The man, who was 22 years old in 2013 when the offences occurred, has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual interference of people under age 16. iNFOnews.ca is not publishing his name in order to protect the names of the complainants.
Crown counsel Margaret Cissell said the accused was in a relationship in May of 2013, but it wasn’t going well and he decided to seek other female companionship by creating a profile on the dating website MeetMe. There, he met the first complainant, who was age 15 and six to seven years younger than him. The age of sexual consent in Canada is 16.
The first time they met in person, the accused drove to her high school and met with her during recess, Cissell said during the morning portion of the sentence hearing on Sept. 28 in Vernon Supreme Court.
Over the next few weeks, he continued to meet up with her, and the pair had unprotected sex at least twice. The complainant grew concerned about pregnancy, and told her mother, who told the police.
Around the same time, the accused met with another 15-year-old girl he met on MeetMe. They also had unprotected sex.
Cissell noted that neither of the complainants was coerced, but said the accused “deliberately planned and went about executing a plan in terms of developing relationships with these young women.” She said it was a pattern of behaviour that went beyond a single incident.
The accused is mentally challenged and receives disability assistance, however Cissell pointed out that he has a driver’s license, has had various jobs and has a social life. A psychiatry report indicated his mental condition likely influenced his behaviour but did not outright cause the offence.
The accused stated he did not know the the victims’ ages at the time and once informed, broke it off, Cissell said. She said it is not difficult to determine age, and the fact that he was visiting the first complainant at a high school would have been an indicator of her young age.
The first complainant filed a victim impact statement with the court, stating she struggles with depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. The other complainant chose not to be involved in the proceedings.
The Crown is seeking the one-year mandatory minimum for sexual interference with a person under 16, followed by three years probation. The accused’s defence lawyer, Jonathan Avis, is making a constitutional challenge against the one-year minimum sentence.
Sentencing is expected to continue Friday before Justice Gary Weatherill.
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