A local man who walked into the police station to confess he had been sexually abusing his step-daughters for years stood out as a rarity when he appeared in Brantford’s Ontario Court recently.
The man, who can’t be named as it would identify his victims, was fully repentant and, since confessing his crimes in June 2022, has been engaged in therapy and financially supporting his ex-partner and her children.
“It’s difficult to think of a more egregious breach of trust,” said Justice Kathleen Baker as she sentenced him to two counts of sexual interference.
She noted the sexual assaults occurred over five years, beginning with cuddling and inappropriate touching when each of the two victims was 12 and progressing to full intercourse.
“But, it is rare indeed for an individual to attend a police station and make a voluntary admission of sexual assault against children. He deserves some credit for stepping forward and accepting responsibility.”
Baker also noted the man was paying for intensive therapy to gain insight into his own behavior as well as continuing to contribute to the household he left, so that the children and his partner didn’t lose their home.
In victim impact statements read to the court, the mother of the girls described her devastation at learning what had been happening while she was at work and how her daughters expressed fear they had ruined the lives of the family.
The woman said she hoped her ex would get “as little time in jail” as possible because the family couldn’t live without his support and she noted the man’s own childhood trauma and abuse contributed to his behavior.
The eldest daughter, who rebuffed her step-father’s abuse when she turned 17, expressed her conflicted feelings about the man she “called dad for 12 years.”
“I missed him as a dad and I hated him for what he did.”
Assistant Crown attorney Samer Nakib encouraged the judge to hand down a five-year sentence, saying the man’s early guilty plea and proactive therapy were important but couldn’t diminish the severity of the offenses.
But defense lawyer Dale Henderson said a sentence of three years could encourage more offenders to turn themselves in, knowing they would get a lesser sentence by coming clean.
“We see people at their absolute worst but we sleep at night because, when someone gets five, six or seven years in jail, we’re sending a message to the public that if you do this terrible thing, you’re going to get whacked,” Henderson said.
“So what message do you send to the public for a person who walks into the police station and says ‘I did these things’, didn’t want a lawyer, pleads guilty, was a victim himself, and has taken steps toward rehabilitation? ”
Henderson said his client was in court to “take his lumps” and he hoped the man would get a “discount” based on his behavior since his June 2022 arrest.
The judge acknowledged a five-year sentence was in the appropriate range but said the offender’s “meaningful” commitment in an attempt to rehabilitate himself and a report from a clinic where he was taking intensive psycho-educational sessions which showed he has a low risk of re-offending, called for a lower punishment.
She sentenced the man to three-and-a-half years in prison and ordered that he go on the national sexual offender’s list.