A 73-year-old man from Cortes Island was sentenced for sexual interference in Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Thursday. (News Bulletin file)

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

A 73-year-old Cortes Island man will spend three years in jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing his granddaughter, who has special needs.

The man, who pleaded guilty to sexual interference, was sentenced by Judge Palbinder Shergill in Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Thursday afternoon. The man can’t be named in order to protect the privacy of the victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

During the sentencing, Shergill said the girl, now 12, who has developmental delays and special needs, was nine years old when her grandfather began sexually assaulting her in the summer of 2016 and began with him touching her thighs and having her touching his genitals. The man found the sexual contact stimulating, said Shergill, and over the course of the next one and a half years, abused her. Courtenay and Cortes Island were among the areas the abuse took place, said John Boccabella, Crown counsel, after sentencing.

Abuses happened every other week, with the two touching each others’ genitals and the man rubbing his genitals on hers, Shergill said in her ruling. On numerous occasions, the girl asked the man to stop and while he promised to, even “pinkie” promising at one point, the abuse continued. It only ended when the man’s wife caught him.

The victim, Shergill said, has been profoundly impacted and it has affected her at school and socially. She has angry outbursts and is highly anxious about her personal space and does not want to be touched, the Supreme Court justice said. While she is undergoing therapy, she still has a difficult time talking to her parents about the situation. She also requires an individual caregiver.

Shergill said the man didn’t have a prior criminal record and was raped by an older roommate when he was in his 20s, but never reported the crime. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2012, but survived, and relatives said he changed after that, forgetting things and putting himself in dangerous situations. However, he has no mental health concerns, Shergill said.

Boccabella sought a three-and-a-half-year sentence, while Al McGarvey, defence, sought a provincial term between 18 months to two years, less a day.

In sentencing the man to jail, Shergill said the offence was egregious and that the man psychologically manipulated the victim. She added that the man admitted to the offence early and entered the plea, stating that he did deserve to go to jail. Universal in all the documentation provided to the court was that the man showed “perplexing lack of remorse,” said Shergill.

The man will be required to register under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo man sentenced to jail for convincing teenage boy to touch him sexually


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