Judge Herman Rohrmoser will meet with defence lawyers and Crown Counsel on May 24 to set a date for the sentencing of three Lillooet-area brothers convicted of sexually assaulting 10 young victims.
A sentencing hearing concluded May 8 in Lillooet Provincial Court with Fred Kaatz, lawyer for the oldest brother, arguing that his client should be placed on probation and should not receive a jail sentence.
The Crown has asked that all three men be sentenced to 16 months in jail, eight months of supervision in the community and one year of probation.
The three brothers and some of their victims – seated only an arm’s length away - crowded into the tiny Lillooet courtroom to hear Kaatz’s submission and rebuttals from Crown Counsel Carol Hawes and Cat Elliott. Some of the victims and their family members cried softly as the lawyers recounted details of the case during the hearing.
The three brothers were convicted in November 2011 on a total of 12 of 16 counts. They cannot be identified because their crimes were committed while they were juveniles. Because of their ages when the crimes occurred, they were tried under the Young Offenders Act.
In his submission, Kaatz seized on his client’s age at the time his crimes were committed 30 years ago, asking Judge Rohrmoser, “What would you have done to Mr. _______ if he was 14 or 15 at the time of these offences? Nine times out of 10 somebody would have been sentenced to probation with provisions for counselling.”
Noting the amount of time that has passed between the time the offences were committed and charges were laid, Kaatz argued that “timely intervention is out of the question here.” Because his client is now an adult, he urged the judge to look at his client’s conduct since the crimes occurred. He said his client was married with children, was a successful businessman and a “productive member of society” and had no subsequent brushes with the law. Kaatz produced several written character references for his client.
Noting that rehabilitation, reintegration and the long-term protection of the public have to be considered when sentencing or incarcerating young offenders, Kaatz suggested there was no need to jail his client because the man had already taken the necessary steps on his own to “break the cycle” and rehabilitate himself.
Kaatz acknowledged that his client has not shown remorse, although Judge Rohrmoser convicted him on two counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault. He said case law states that a person cannot be punished for a lack of remorse. Kaatz added that his client respects Rohrmoser’s decision and feels “sympathy and concern” for the victims, but maintains his innocence.
“Lack of remorse is not an aggravating factor and should not be considered as a factor,” Kaatz stated. “A finding of guilt is an opinion. It is not an absolute and many decisions have been overturned.”
In her response, Crown Counsel Carol Hawes said the fact that 25 or 30 years had passed since the crimes were committed meant that all three brothers “have escaped accountability for 25 or 30 years.
“The passage of time doesn’t take away from the fact that these brothers committed serious sexual assaults on 10 small children. Now is the time for accountability to be addressed,” she said.
Hawes observed that a decades-long conspiracy of silence prevented the cases from coming to trial when the offences occurred. She said if “just sanctions with meaningful consequences” are not handed down now by Rohrmoser, “then the conspiracy of silence will have won out.”