A man who argued in an Ontario court that he was simply being a "touchy feely" father when he regularly pinned his daughter under him — face down — and ground his genitals on her over roughly a decade has been convicted of sexual assault.
Court documents show the man, whose name cannot be released in order to protect the identity of his daughter, was arrested in 2014 after the then-teenage girl told a teacher she was being sexually abused.
During trial, the young woman, who is now 18 years old, told the court the incidents began when she was six and usually took place every few weeks while her mother and siblings were away.
She testified both she and her father were fully clothed when it happened, and that she would squirm and tell him to get off her.
A file photo of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. (Photo: Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)
Though the abuse briefly stopped after a complaint to child welfare authorities that was later withdrawn, the young woman testified it escalated to the point where her father once touched her genitals while she was sleeping.
She said she reported the abuse to her school around age 15 after an incident in which her father barged into a locked bathroom while she was showering.
The accused "sought to portray himself as an affectionate fun-loving, 'touchy feely' father who in retrospect may have not been sufficiently considerate of his teenage daughter's sensitivities and privacy concerns, but was nonetheless well intentioned," Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland wrote in his decision.
"In fact, however, the grinding incidents that he would portray as playfulness were escalating and becoming more problematic to the complainant as she matured and this resulted in the (Children's Aid Society) involvement," Hackland said.
Mother wasn't aware of abuse
"His view that there was no genuine problem to address at that point was bizarre and self-serving."
According to court documents, the young woman testified she never told her mother about the abuse for fear of what would happen to their family, which did in fact fall apart after she came forward.
She told the court she confided in a friend during a game of truth or dare when in her early teens, and that friend told a parent, who alerted the Children's Aid Society.
But the young woman said she was interviewed by a caseworker within earshot of her parents and retracted the allegations.
'Unwilling to face a serious problem'
Her father testified that he never addressed the issue with her even after the caseworker's visit.
The judge said he found it difficult to understand the accused's "complete non-engagement" with his daughter. "This was the behaviour of someone unwilling to face a serious problem within his family — a problem he knew was his sexual abuse of his daughter," he wrote.
The man was initially facing charges of sexual touching and voyeurism as well but the sexual touching counts were conditionally stayed since he has been convicted of the more serious charge of sexual assault.
He was cleared on the voyeurism charge in connection with the shower incident because the judge said the man had not behaved surreptitiously, which is a defining element of the offence.
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The following signs may indicate the possibility of child abuse, according to the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre:
Unexplained bruises or injuries, especially in places of the body that children do not normally injure during regular play or movement
A child who is continually hungry, unsuitably dressed for the weather and/or always dirty
Burns which leave a pattern outlining the object which was used to make the burn, such as a cigarette, an iron or an electric stove burner, burns on the hands, feet or buttocks caused by scalding water and rope burns caused by being tied
A young child who is often left alone
A child who is unusually aggressive, angry and hostile to other people
A child who demonstrates withdrawn behaviour, who refuses to participate or dress appropriately for physical activities
A child who shows unusual knowledge of sexual matters beyond their age of development, who exhibits sexualized behaviour around adults or other children
A child who hints or talks overtly about sexual abuse
An adolescent who is extremely withdrawn or aggressive
A child or adolescent who repeatedly runs away from home