Warning: This story contains details related to sexual abuse.
A Nanaimo man found guilty of sexually abusing his young children has failed to have his conviction overturned.
A provincial court judge found the man, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, guilty in 2021 of two counts of sexually touching a person under 16 and one count of encouraging a person under 16 to touch a part of his body.
The offences were against his two sons, occurring between 2013 and 2016. The boys were six and eight years old in 2018 when they made the revelation to their mother, the ruling said. While being interviewed by police, the boys stated the man “squeezed [their] genitals,” noted the ruling, and the younger son detailed how he was asked to touch the man’s genitals.
The interviews, recorded and used as evidence, involved an officer employing the ‘step-wise method’ while talking with the children “to obtain information without traumatizing the child giving the statement and to achieve good quality and quantity of the information in order to protect the integrity of the process.”
In 2019, the younger son told his mother about other sexual touching incidents and the boys were subsequently “re-interviewed by the same police officer,” court documents stated. Many details related to time and facts varied from those given in the initial statement.
During the trial, defence counsel pointed out the inconsistencies between the children’s statements. However, Crown counsel argued that the children had “understandably” relayed what had occurred incrementally, giving more details after “they had time and support to enable them to process their experiences.” Given their age, it shouldn’t have come as a shock that inconsistencies would arise in some of the surrounding details, stated the court documents. Ultimately, the evidence was accepted by the judge, who found the case had been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In his appeal, the man said a mistake was made as the judge “impermissibly” relied on his failure to explain why the children would lie about the events “as a reason why his testimony was rejected.” This led to the shifting of the burden of proof to the man “to show why [his children] were lying.”
A panel consisting of justices John Hunter, Mary Saunders and Lauri Ann Fenlon disagreed.
As the judge mentioned “the totality of evidence” in the ruling, there was nothing suggesting the children had reason to lie, Hunter said in the decision.
“The judge also stated that there was no such suggestion ‘by either parent.’ Finally, the judge stated that there was no suggestion by the appellant that the children had a motive to lie,” the appeal court noted, adding that the provincial court judge recognized that “inconsistencies in detail do not necessarily mean that [the children] have misconceived what happened to them and who did it.”
The man was previously charged and sentenced to three years for taking naked pictures of a girl in an unrelated case.
The appeal was heard in Vancouver on March 8, with the judgment being rendered Nov. 2.