May 19th, 2024

Woman found guilty in sexual assault of young girl


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 7, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge woman whose former common-law spouse was sent to prison for sexually assaulting his four-year-old daughter, has been found guilty of doing the same thing.
A judge found the woman, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the child, guilty last week in Lethbridge provincial court of sexual assault, sexual contact with a child under the age of 16, and party to the offence of making child pornography.
The woman initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and stood trial in September, and the matter was adjourned for the judge’s decision. After the verdict was given Friday, the court ordered the offender to be assessed for the preparation of a pre-sentence report and psychological report, and the matter was adjourned to March 3, 2022 for a sentencing hearing. The case will also be spoken to in February to check on the progress of the reports.
Defence had argued during trial that the woman committed the offences under duress from her ex-spouse, but the judge disagreed.
The 31-year-old man was sentenced Nov. 23 in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench to seven years in prison; five years for sexual interference, and two years for making child pornography.
According to an agreed statement of facts, the father, who pleaded guilty to the charges last May, gave his daughter a drink of Sleepytime chamomile tea plus three to five milligrams of melatonin in February 2016. He and his then common-law spouse – who is not the girl’s biological mother – then sexually assaulted the child while she was passed out, and made a video recording of the assault.
After he was arrested several years later, the man confessed to police and told them he did it to blackmail his spouse so she wouldn’t leave him.
“If she left me, I was going to come to the police with the video,” he told police in his statement.
His ex-spouse told police the offender forced her into the room where the little girl was sleeping and where he began assaulting her. When police showed her a forensic report indicating she was seen in the video taking part in the assault, as well, she said she didn’t have a choice.
“I know that just before that, he told me that if I didn’t do it, he would hurt me,” she said in her statement. “That was my main concern.”
The assault was not discovered until Feb. 6, 2020, after a man bought a storage locker in Lethbridge and found an SD memory card and USB drive. He discovered on the SD card numerous images and videos, including a video of the sexual assault. He took the card to the police, who conducted a forensic examination and identified the offenders.
Crown Prosecutor Carolyn Ayre told court during the man’s sentencing hearing that the little girl was not physically injured during the assault, and does not have a memory of it because she was given sleeping pills. But future psychological harm is possible.
“She was treated like an object, a sexual object,” Ayre said.

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