July 24th, 2024

Woman jailed for sexual and child pornography convictions


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on June 2, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 30-year-old Lethbridge woman who, along with her common-law spouse, sexually assaulted the man’s four-year-old daughter six years ago, has been sent to a federal penitentiary.
The woman, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the young victim, was sentenced Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court to six years in prison; one year less than the sentence her spouse received last November after he pleaded guilty to sexual interference and making child pornography.
The woman stood trial last September and was found guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference and making child pornography. The charge of sexual assault charge was, however, subsequently stayed by the Crown.
Calgary lawyer John Oman had asked Judge Sylvia Oishi to sentence his client to four years in a federal penitentiary, and said the woman, unlike her spouse, did not have a criminal record and committed the offences under duress.
“She clearly has some very significant medical issues, including things from birth that significantly affect her, and, I suggest, make her vulnerable,” Oman said during the woman’s sentencing hearing in April.
The child’s father gave his daughter a drink of Sleepytime chamomile tea and three to five milligrams of melatonin in February 2016. He and his then common-law spouse – who is not the girl’s biological mother – sexually assaulted the child while she was passed out, and made a video recording of the assault.
The woman told police she was forced to commit the offences, and when police showed her a forensic report indicating she was seen in the video taking part in the assault, 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.
During the sentencing hearing, the child, who is now 10 years old, said she remembers what her father and stepmother did to her.
“I hope one day you can forgive yourself, I don’t know if I can,” she said.
Judge Oishi acknowledged the woman’s lack of criminal record at the time, and noted she had also been sexually assaulted as a child and came from a toxic and dysfunctional family. But Oishi said there were numerous aggravating factors, and pointed out the woman was in a position of authority; the assault was premeditated; and the couple recorded the assault.
“It is aggravating that there were two adults acting in concert to abuse a single child,” Oishi said.
In addition to the woman’s prison term, she must submit a sample of her DNA for the National DNA Databank, and register with the Sex Offender Information Registry for life. She will be prohibited for five years from volunteering or working in positions of trust or authority involving anyone under the age of 16, and from having contact through the Internet with anyone under the age of 18. She is also prohibited from possessing certain weapons for 10 years, and others for life.

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