A Colwood mom convicted previously for sexually assaulting and luring a 15-year-old boy has had her sentence significantly reduced.
In September 2022, Judge Ted Gouge sentenced the woman, referred to as Ms. P, to two separate two-year jail sentences for sexual assault, and one 18-month jail term for internet luring. All of the sentences are to be served consecutively for a total of five and a half years.
Gouge wrote in the sentencing decision that the suffering of the victim is the key factor in determining the seriousness of the crime. Gouge said that in this case, the victim’s impact statement made it clear how badly impacted he has been by the incident.
“It is necessary to reject the stereotype that teenage boys are less vulnerable to the (impacts) of sexual assault than are teenage girls. (The) victim’s impact statement effectively refutes any such proposition.”
But on Monday, Justice Anthony Saunders of the B.C. Supreme Court cut that five-and-a-half-year sentence down to three years after Ms. P appealed.
Gouge originally wrote that he was concerned about the impact the jail sentence would have on Ms. P’s son, but determined that wasn’t a good enough reason to reduce the sentence. Gouge added Ms. P’s expression of remorse was unconvincing and that she repeatedly blamed the victim for lying about his age.
The incidents took place in April 2020. One evening, the victim along with two friends, visited the house of Ms. P, having agreed to swap cannabis for alcohol. The group partied in the house and during the evening, Ms. P had sex with the 15-year-old, Gouge outlined, leading to the first count of sexual assault.
On a separate occasion, Ms. P invited the victim to her house for a “hot make-out sesh.” The pair had sex, leading to the second count of sexual assault as well as the charge of internet luring.
Saunders wrote about the case and the issue of consent was detailed.
“The defence of consent was not available to the appellant,” reads the judgment. “The appellant did however rely on the defence of honest but mistaken belief as to the age of her victim. There was conflicting testimony at trial as to what the boys had said about their ages. The appellant testified that she had asked her victim three times whether he was 18, and each time he affirmed that he was. In cross-examination, she acknowledged having been a ‘little skeptical’ about his assertion that he was 18. The trial judge found that she had been conscious of the risk that he might be under age 16; that it was this awareness on her part that had led her to ask him three times to state his age; and that her proceeding to have intercourse with him despite her skepticism was reckless, depriving her of the right to rely on the defence of mistake of age. Alternatively, the trial judge found that in the circumstances she did not take all reasonable steps to ascertain her victim’s age.”
Saunders then detailed how the trial judge “erred” in the case.
“I do however find that the trial judge erred in failing to properly apply the totality principle expressed in s. 718.2: that ‘where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh.’”
“A full accounting of the appellant’s moral culpability also ought to have recognized that though the offences were separate, they were all rooted in the appellant’s initial reckless failure to ascertain her victim’s true age,” wrote Saunders. “Further, consideration of her moral culpability on the luring charge ought to have recognized that though a telecommunications device had been used to intrude on the victim’s sphere of privacy, exposing him to sexual exploitation, this was not a case of electronic media being used to ‘groom’ a potential victim, and the degree of intrusion through text messaging was on the low end of the scale. These considerations militated against the total sentence simply being the sum of separate consecutive sentences.”
In Canada, the legal age of consent is 16. Exceptions are made for youth aged 14 or 15, who can consent to sexual activity with someone less than five years older, and 12 or 13-year-olds, who can consent to sexual activity with someone less than two years older.
– With additional reporting by Bailey Moreton
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