He was 27. She was 15. They had sex numerous times over 3 1/2 months. They were in love, but that doesn’t make it all right.
The law says even if someone under the age of 16 is a willing participant, they cannot legally give consent.
So, in this case, which wrapped up Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna, the 27-year-old man was sentenced to 16 months in jail for sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.
Dark-haired and dressed in a grey hoodie, the man initially sat up straight in the prisioner’s box, listening quietly as Judge Gary Weatherill went through the proceedings.
As the judge got deeper into the reasons for the sentencing, he slumped.
The convicted man stood when asked to do so while the sentence was read out by the judge.
As he took his seat again, he slumped while conditions of his two years of probation, including sex offender treatment, and 20 years on the sex offender registry were read out.
“I wish you the best of luck,” the judge said to the man. “Move on and put this behind you.”
With that, proceedings ended, and a sheriff handcuffed the man and led him from the courtroom to start serving his sentence.
The victim cannot be named because she is a minor and to protect her identity. Other details that might identify the victim also can't be revealed.
The couple met in 2017. He was assistant manager at a movie theatre where she worked. Over three months, they became friends and started dating.
Initially, he thought she was 18, but even when he found out she was 15, they continued on.
On Feb. 13, 2018, they had sex for the first time after a dinner date.
Until May 29, 2018, they had sex many more times, sometimes at work, all without birth control.
That ended when another worker called police.
The man was ordered by RCMP to stay away from his young lover and not contact her.
Yet, he did on June 10, 2018, via Instagram, to ask her if she was pressing charges.
In a May 31, 2018, statement the girl made to police, she said they clicked right away, she professed her love for him, said they were boyfriend and girlfriend, she had no regrets and they would still be together if the police hadn’t been called.
She didn’t want charges to be pressed, but the girl’s mother did.
The man was originally charged with sexual interference of a person under 16, sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching under 16 and possession of child pornography in relation to nude photos the girl sent, which he kept on his smartphone.
He was also charged with breach of undertaking for contacting her on Instagram when ordered not to.
The possible sentence for sexual interference of a person under 16 goes all the way up to 14 years in jail.
The Crown suggested three years. The man's lawyer recommended a two-year suspended sentence in which he would spend no time in jail but be bound to some sort of house arrest and probation.
In the end, Judge Weatherill determined a 16-month prison sentence was fair.
He went light in considering the man was a good citizen until the affair, the couple had genuine affection for each other, he took responsibility for his actions, was regretful and pleaded guilty early so a lengthy and harmful-to-the-girl trial could be avoided.
That said, the judge stressed it was a serious crime, the relationship was exploitive because the man was in a position of authority and trust, and he was morally and legally in the wrong.