A long, traumatic sexual abuse trial came to a quiet end Wednesday, July 4 in Lillooet Provincial Court.
Judge Herman Rohrmoser imposed jail sentences on two of three brothers previously convicted of multiple sexual assaults committed in a Lillooet-area community in the 1980s. A third brother, who admitted his guilt, was placed on probation with conditions for one year after he also was convicted for multiple sexual assaults that occurred at that same time. All three men were in their early to mid teens when the offences occurred and were themselves victims of abuse and neglect.
The oldest and youngest brothers were sentenced to 120 days, or four months, in custody – 80 days in a youth jail and 40 days of supervision in the community. Because the brothers are now adults, it’s expected they will serve their 80-day sentences in an adult correctional facility. They were also placed on probation for one year and ordered not to possess firearms for a two-year period.
The Crown had asked that all three men be sentenced to 16 months in jail, eight months of supervision in the community and one year of probation.
Under the terms of probation for all three men, they were ordered to participate in and complete any assessment, counselling or program ordered by their probation officers. The assessment or program could include sexual offence prevention and individual or group therapeutic programs for sex offenders. The three were also ordered to report to the Forensic Outpatient Clinic in their area for participation in, and completion of, the Forensic Sex Offender Program followed by the Sex Offender Maintenance Program.
The conditions of their probation forbid the three brothers from having any direct or indirect communication or contact with their victims, and require them to provide DNA samples to the RCMP.
The Crown requested a banishment order, but Judge Rohrmoser rejected that request, saying banishing people from a community is equivalent to “saddling a neighbouring community with unbearable individuals.”
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 sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“We are dealing with adults, but we have to pretend we are dealing with them as young persons,” said Judge Rohrmoser.
“The main issue is this: What could possibly be a just outcome, where the lives of victims and accused alike have been warped by such a maladjusted environment in which the casualties of abuse became predators in their turn, in an atmosphere where the adults who suspected what was going on did nothing to stop it?”
In his written comments during sentencing, Rohrmoser contrasted the Youth Criminal Justice Act’s requirements for meaningful consequences, rehabilitation and reintegration with the community’s need to see the offenders held accountable for their crimes, ensuring public confidence in the justice system.
He said the case was challenging because the brothers were convicted for offences that occurred 25 to 30 years ago. Since that time, the oldest and youngest brothers have had no brushes with the law, while the middle brother was convicted for careless storage of a firearm.
The judge said a conspiracy of silence was at work in the community where the three brothers lived and their offences occurred. He said the brothers’ “terrible” sexual assaults created “lifelong pain” for their young victims and had an “enduring, often unbearable impact” on the victims, some of whom were pre-school age when they were assaulted.
Rohrmoser concluded the oldest and youngest brothers “bought into that conspiracy of silence” by continuing to maintain their innocence.
In contrast, the middle brother admitted his guilt, refused to let his lawyer cross-examine his victims and tried to apologize to the victims on several earlier occasions. For those actions, Rohrmoser said the middle brother was shunned by his brothers and mother.
“The community will not accept the attitudes (of the oldest and youngest brother) as amounting to anything other than continued defiance and might well wonder why that should earn them the same consideration on sentencing as might be given to the one truly repentant brother,” said Rohrmoser.
“The two brothers saying they respect the process of the courts cannot be taken as indicative of remorse when each of them wholly rejects all of the court’s findings as they relate to them,” he said. “The family has presented a unified front against all the accusations that have swirled around them in the community for decades, and their continuing to do so will be viewed by the victims, as well as a large component of the community, as showing an arrogant lack of any sense of responsibility for the crimes committed, and the very opposite of acknowledgment of the harm done to the victims and the community.”
He continued, “To treat all three offenders leniently and identically…would amount to a declaration that contrition does not count and that a lack of acknowledgment or taking responsibility simply does not matter.”
Rohrmoser said the judicial process cannot restore the victims’ innocence and wholeness.
“The unfortunate reality is that work of recovery, if it is to succeed, will come about primarily from the efforts and strengths of the victims themselves, aided by whatever supports and assistance are available to them.”