June 18th, 2024

Man pleads guilty to sexual contact with children


By Delon Shurtz on July 7, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 48-year-old man who admitted he inappropriately touched his two young children several times in 2018 and 2019, has been sentenced to six and a half months in jail.
The father, who can’t be named to protect the identities of his son and daughter, pleaded guilty in February to two charges of sexual contact with a person under that age of 16, and was sentenced Monday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench by Justice D. K. Miller.
“The facts are most unfortunate and somewhat egregious,” Miller said during the sentencing hearing.
According to an agreed statement of facts read by the Crown in February, the father touched his children sexually, and had them touch him, when they visited him on weekends in 2018 and 2019. The man was arrested in June 2019 after his son told his school teacher about the touching, and he was interviewed by a social worker and police officer.
The offender admitted during his statement to police that he touched his children as they alleged, but court was told he does not remember, because of his own cognitive and memory issues, how many times the offences occurred.
Crown Prosecutor Dawn Janecke said Monday a forensic psychiatric assessment was ordered in February to provide some insight to the father’s assaults against his biological children, but as of Monday the assessment had not been conducted. Janecke said the forensic unit notified the Crown only a few days ago that it was finally ready to begin the assessment, but it was unable to say how long the assessment would take given the challenges from COVID and the resulting backlog of cases.
Rather than wait several more months, the Crown and defence agreed to proceed without the assessment.
Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford told court his client suffers from a “severe learning disability,” and is currently under the care of a psychiatrist. And while the father is not allowed to see his children without direct supervision, his former spouse remains supportive.
Judge Miller noted that although some people might expect a significantly longer sentence for the offences, he took into consideration the father’s guilty plea, which saved his children from testifying at trial; his co-operation with authorities; and his special needs. He also expressed dismay that medical authorities had failed to conduct the court-ordered forensic assessment.
“It is extremely frustrating that this court, as the judicial branch of government, is thwarted by a department under the executive branch of government, and does not honour this court’s direction.”
Although sentenced to nearly seven months in custody, the father was given full credit for time he already spent in pre-trial custody, which concludes his jail sentence. However, he will be on probation for two years, during which he is to receive a forensic assessment as an outpatient.
He is prohibited from from having unsupervised contact with his children, or to be with anyone under the age of 14 without the individual’s guardian or parent, and he must abstain from consuming alcohol and drugs. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank, and he must register with the Sex Offender Information Registry for the rest of his life.

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