Big Brothers mentor sentenced to two years in jail for sexually abusing young boys
He wasn’t in the courtroom, but a 13-year-old boy’s words brought many who were there to tears.
© — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
Defence lawyer Brian Wentzell (right) and his client during a break in his client’s sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday. The man can’t be named to protect the identities of the victims.
“You have taken away my ability to be a kid,” the boy wrote in a letter directed to the man who sexually abused him for three years.
The one-page victim impact statement was read aloud Tuesday in provincial court in St. John’s by Crown prosecutor Jason House during the man’s sentencing hearing.
The 31-year-old — who can’t be named in order to protect the identity of the victims — was the boy’s mentor through the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program from 2009 to August of this year.
Countless times during those years — the last two of which he lived with the boy and his family — the man molested the boy.
On Aug. 31 of this year, the man also molested one of the boy’s friends, an 11-year-old, who was visiting from Ontario at the time with his family.
The first boy only admitted what happened to him after the second boy told his mother.
The man was sentenced to two years in jail and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual interference and one count of invitation to sexual touching.
But before the judge made a decision, the court heard the rest of the first boy’s letter, telling how the man’s actions affected his life.
Several of the boy’s family members, including his mother and uncle, who were in court wept as House continued reading.
“Because of what you have done, I am afraid to go to sleep at night, … I have nightmares and wake up a lot yelling and scared,” he wrote.
“I feel sad and angry at myself that I trusted you, believed (that) you actually cared about me.”
During the time the man was mentoring the boy, the boy’s father fell ill and died.
“I am angry that you took advantage of me and my family. … At any time is bad, but for us, it was the worst time of our lives,” the boy wrote.
He said he no longer feels comfortable going out without his mother or being with friends. He said he worries that people will find out what happened and whether or not the man did the same thing to others he has mentored.
“Hopefully, in time, with counselling and other supports, and the love of my family, I will be able to feel less of the worry, the panic, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the paranoia and the poor self-image,” he wrote.
“Right now, I am consumed by all of those things and it really sucks.”
When Judge Lois Skanes asked the man if he had anything to say before he was sent to jail, he shook his head and said no.
In rendering her decision on sentencing, Skanes went along with an agreed recommendation from House and defence lawyer Brian Wentzell.
House pointed to the serious breach of trust involving children and said the public doesn’t tolerate such behaviour.
“We have an individual who volunteered his time to mentor, to assist, to help a younger individual … and he took advantage of that situation,” House said.
Wentzell said the man took responsibility as soon as he was approached by police officers, whom he told he was sick and needed help.
“He’s admitted his offences and wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Wentzell said.
As part of his sentencing, the man will have his name listed on the national sex offenders registry for 20 years.
His probation conditions include that he have no contact or communication with the victims and their families.
He is also prohibited from being in any public place — parks, community centres, etc. — where anyone under the age of 16 would be. He also can’t be employed in, volunteer for or have any position of trust over anyone under the age of 16.
That order will be in effect for 10 years after his jail term ends.
Outside court, the boy’s mother told reporters she’s relieved the case is over.
“I feel at least one door can be closed,” she said.
About her son, she said, “He’s doing terrible. He harboured this for three years.”
“Since this has been disclosed, he will say at least he doesn’t have to go through that part anymore. But now, the part of him trying to resume a normal life with all these fears and anxieties, it’s hard for him to be a kid anymore. It’s going to be a long process.”
She’s also upset with the Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Canada, which allowed a man with a criminal record in their program.
She only found out after his arrest that the man was convicted in 2006 of fraud on his employer. The woman said stricter screening needs to be put in place, and she believes the organization should take some responsibility for what happened.
“Did they carry out the abuse? No. But if he wasn’t matched with my son through the organization, he would never have been part of our lives,” the woman said.
“He would never have been able to get through our door, never been able to groom my son, groom our family.”
The woman has filed a civil suit against the organization. The case is due in Newfoundland Supreme Court today.