A Penticton judge has found a man guilty of sexually abusing his pre-teen stepdaughter.
It was in December 2009 that an 11-year-old girl told an Oliver school teacher that something inappropriate was going on at home.
On Thursday in Penticton court, the girl’s stepfather was found guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference of a young person under 16 and touching a young person for a sexual purpose, which took place over the course of three months. The man’s name cannot be used to protect the identity of the girl.
Judge Meg Shaw said she believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the stepfather had numerous sexual encounters with the girl, including sexual intercourse on one occasion. Shaw said the stepfather’s audio and video statement to police that was shown as evidence had “frequently conflicting” information and he “modified his statements” to back up his story. Shaw said they had no air of reality to them where the girl’s testimony was credible.
The judge pointed out the girl was not shaken in her description of the events when she took the stand, and although there were some inconsistencies, that was due to her young age.
The girl told the court the abuse started with the stepfather calling her “sexy” and “gorgeous.” She said she thought it was over when she told him to stop, but it only escalated to sexual encounters happening up to two or three times a week.
The girl said she was too scared to tell anyone because he made threats that he would hurt her family and that no one would believe her anyway. She said she couldn’t tell her biological father either, because they did not have a strong relationship at that time.
In her decision, the judge said after RCMP became involved, the girl’s biological mother was given the choice to tell the stepfather to leave the house or the girl. She chose to let the man stay with her.
The stepfather provided a defence, which included testimony from the mother, that the girl simply did not like him. The mother testified the girl was lashing back because the stepfather would enforce house rules and the girl did not like that. During his police statement, the stepfather admitted he had fallen asleep in the girl’s bed when tucking her in for the night. He said if his hand had fallen “in the wrong place” it was not intentional.
The stepfather applied that his constitutional rights to a speedy trial were violated as it has been over three years since charges were laid. The judge denied that application after hearing submissions from Crown counsel that there was no undue adjournments and very little, if any, financial prejudice due to lost work because of his bail conditions.
The stepfather is due back in court on March 20 to determine if a pre-sentence report has been completed and to fix a date for sentencing.