A Yorkton Provincial Court judge heard sentencing submissions yesterday from the Crown and defence in the sexual assault of a 12-year-old Yorkton girl by a former Sturgis Elementary School teacher.
Trevor Latham pleaded guilty to the January 10, 2013 offence on September 10. The Crown outlined the circumstances as laid out in a statement by the girl two days after the incident.
The prosecutor said the accused had been drinking with the victim’s father at a local establishment then moved to the family’s residence. Latham, a family friend for nearly two years at the time, was invited to spend the night as he was too intoxicated to drive. In the early hours of the morning, he entered the girl’s room and asked to lie down. After checking that the father was asleep he returned and entered her bed where he put his arm around her hips and kissed her on the cheek while rubbing her stomach and saying “it’s okay, it’s okay.”
The girl expressed her discomfort and asked Latham to leave, which he did.
The Crown submitted that a custodial sentence was in order reminding the Court that in sexual assault cases in which the victim is under 18 the primary purposes of sentencing of denunciation and deterrence are paramount.
In anticipation of the defence bringing up the case of Eric Tillman who received an absolute discharge after admitting molesting his children’s babysitter, the prosecutor said that Tillman’s “diminished responsibility” due to “unknown and unanticipated” effects of his prescription medication was not comparable to the voluntary consumption of alcohol.
The defence admitted that intoxication was not a defence or even a mitigating circumstance, but said it should be considered as a factor that can cause otherwise dignified person to do unexpected things.
He cited Tillman calling it a “more aggravating” because of the nature of the sexual touching. He also cited a B.C. Court of Appeals decision that in a case where a discharge is available to the Court and not contrary to the public interest, it would be wrong not to consider it.
The lawyer also submitted numerous letters from a wide cross section of the community attesting to Latham’s character and calling the offence an aberration.
The defence requested a conditional discharge under which Latham would be required to attend treatment for alcohol and do community service. He said this was not contrary to the public interest because the fact of Latham’s public contrition and he will never teach again satisfies the purposes of denunciation and deterrence.
The parents of the victim, the father breaking down in tears out of sense of responsibility and guilt, both read victim impact statements into the record and the Crown submitted the girl’s victim impact statement to the judge.
Judge Darin Chow reserved his decision so he could have an opportunity to review the case law and victim impact statements, but did not want to delay procedures for long. He will render his decision on Oct. 11.