A judge condemned the friends and family of a convicted pedophile last month after they sought to excuse the man's behaviour by blaming his victim.
The 32-year-old Chilliwack man, who can't be named because of a publication ban on information that could identify the victim, had pleaded guilty to sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.
According to the decision, which was recently posted online, the man-who has a long criminal record-repeatedly had sex with his 13-year-old stepdaughter over the course of several months.
While family, community members and two pastors filed nine letters of support on behalf of the man, Judge Gary Cohen said he was disregarding seven of the letters because they suggested the man was the victim.
"These letters should not have been presented to the court," Cohen wrote.
Speaking about one letter that labeled the complainant as "promiscuous," Cohen said such a view ignores the fact that "much of what the complainant learned about life was from this stepfather."
Cohen said it also disregarded the fact that the defendant admitted to entering the complainant's bedroom and "abusing her in her own room." And even if that had not been the case, Cohen stressed that it would not have been a mitigating factor.
Another letter, Cohen said, "purports to be from a pair of pastors" who said the girl tricked her stepfather.
"It is my hope that these people are not allowed to minister to young people as they clearly have a complete misunderstanding of brain development in adolescents," Cohen wrote about the pastors.
Rather than helping the defendant, Cohen said the letters gave him cause for imposing a harsher sentence on the man.
"The one thing that I take from these letters is that they are from people who excuse the defendant and place blame on the child," Cohen wrote. "If these are his support people, then he does not have the support of good people around him. Having good family and community support is often mentioned in the case law as grounds for imposing a lesser sentence and therefore could have been a mitigating factor in sentencing. Instead, these letters tend to prove that the defendant has the sort of support that excuses this sort of criminal behaviour."
Cohen noted the abuse has "had a substantial impact on the complainant: she has twice attempted suicide; she has lost trust and innocence; she has lost her home; and she has even lost her family."
While the defendant apologized in court, Cohen said he considered the man's contrition in context of information laid out in a pre-sentence report that stated the stepfather minimized the impact of his actions on his victim.
When it came to imposing a sentence, Cohen did not go lightly on the defendant.
Citing the victim's age, the duration of the abuse and the fact that it occurred in a home where a young person is supposed to feel safe, Cohen sentenced the defendant to four years in prison with no credit for any time previously served.
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