MARK NIELSEN / PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN
A 74-year-old McBride, B.C. man has been found guilty of sexually exploiting a teenage girl when she was living in his home.
In reaching his conclusion, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale found the man, whose name cannot be published under a court-ordered publication ban against information that would identify the victim, used his position of authority to coerce her into having sex with him.
The girl and her mother had moved into the man's home in the community of 577 people 220 kilometeres east of Prince George in September 2009. She was 16 years old and he was 67 years old at the time.
During the time they lived there, he had sex with the girl on an ongoing basis whenever the mother was away as well as when she joined him on his trips as a long-haul trucker, Tindale found.
The girl had minimal education and no job and her mother relied on a limited income and the man was aware they had just left an abusive situation with the girl's father, Tindale said. Lacking the ability to support herself, Tindale noted the victim testified she had "nowhere else to go" and found she was "100 per cent dependent on the man" during the trips, which provided the only opportunity to leave McBride and see other parts of the country.
She also alleged the man raped her and, in one instance, threw her over his shoulder and took her into the bedroom to force sex on her. But Tindale found the man not guilty of sexual assault in part because injuries to his back and shoulder and a hernia suggested he was incapable of carrying out the acts. He also found she would not have gone on a road trip shortly after one of the incidents if her story was true.
Neighbours who testified at the trial described odd behaviour between the two while out in public given their difference in age. They were seen holding hands, engaging in open-mouth kissing, sitting close to each other in his truck and with the man's arm around her waist.
The man contended they were the acts of someone taking on the role of a father figure but Tindale disagreed.
"The manner in which the accused touched the complainant in public as described by the civilian witnesses is consistent with the accused and the complainant engaging in intimate sexual activity," Tindale said.
After about 18 months, the girl and her mother moved out of the home but she did not tell anyone what had happened out of embarrassment.
In March 2013 she filed a complaint with police. By that time, she had moved away from McBride and was living with a common law spouse but was concerned the man was stalking her, the court had heard during the trial.
The man, who appeared frail and had trouble standing and walking, faces at least one year in jail for the offence. He will remain out on bail until sentencing at a later date.
One year! One year for God only knows how many counts of statutory rape and child sex exploitation. Regardless of his health, he needs to be sentenced to much longer than one year, otherwise you're saying statutory rape and child sex exploitation are not a big deal. That would be a travesty of justice for underage girls.