A Nova Scotia provincial court judge has delivered a stern rebuke to a 37-year-old man who tried to get a reduced sentence for a charge of sexual interference after he admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Terry Leonard George Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to the charge, but argued the Crown was wrong to proceed by indictment. He asked the judge to sentence him for a summary offence.
The difference is considerable. A conviction for sexual interference as an indictable offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The same conviction as a summary offence carries a maximum of 18 months in jail.
Fitzgerald admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old girl. In arguing for the lighter sentence, Fitzgerald's lawyer said the sex was consensual and so the penalty should be lighter.
But in his decision, Judge Del Atwood wrote, "The submission of the defence seems to be that, as the 14-year-old victim was sexually active, she is somehow less worthy of the protection of the law that criminalizes sexual intercourse between 36-year-old men and minors."
"That position is unsupportable. It is, in its essence, the bonnet-and-crinoline polemic that is based on inappropriate myths and stereotypes."
In her statement to police, the 14-year-old victim said Fitzgerald initiated the sex, but she did not object. She said Fitzgerald told her not to tell anyone and he also told her they would be "friends with benefits."
Her identity is protected by a publication ban.
The teenager also told police Fitzgerald wanted to take her and her younger sister to Antigonish, where he apparently planned to force them into prostitution.
Atwood wrote that had the Crown decided to proceed summarily against Fitzgerald, "that prosecutor ought to have had his or her head examined."