An Ontario woman has been sentenced to 3½ years in prison for webcasting sexual assaults on her two-year-old son, in a crime the judge called "an abhorrent breach of trust."
The woman from Lakeshore, Ont., near Windsor, cannot be identified to protect her child.
Ontario Court Justice Guy DeMarco handed down the sentence after taking two days to consider the details of a case in which the evidence presented wove a graphic tale of sexual abuse and exploitation.
'Society expects that a mother will protect her child no matter what from harm. Not only did you not protect your child, but you hurt him and broke the trust.' —Justice Guy DeMarco
The woman had pleaded guilty to five of 12 charges, including sexual assault, making child pornography and possessing child pornography. An earlier charge of bestiality was dropped.
The Crown and defence had submitted a joint request, asking that the woman be sentenced to 18 months in an Ontario jail, rather than a federal penitentiary, followed by a three-year probation term.
DeMarco instead sentenced her to 3½ years less 18 months for time served, leaving her with a provincial jail sentence of two years less a day.
The woman cannot use a cellphone, computer, or be alone in the company of children or go to any public place where children might be during her probation.
She will be placed on the national sex offender registry, and must remain under the care of a psychiatrist, while completing psycho-sexual counselling.
During his sentencing, DeMarco spoke directly to the young mother. "Society expects that a mother will protect her child no matter what from harm. Not only did you not protect your child, but you hurt him and broke the trust," said DeMarco.
The woman was arrested in April 2009, after a man she had met a few weeks earlier on the internet contacted police about her web activities.
Windsor police arrested her and seized her computers and cellphone, which the Ontario Provincial Police e-crimes unit in Orillia investigated.
Officers found images and video in which the woman engaged in live sex acts both with herself and her toddler. In other instances, the woman involved her pet pit bull in the acts, and in many of the cases the child is seen walking around in the background and using sexualized language with his mother. The videos were broadcast live to the man who eventually turned the woman in to police.
In his sentencing, DeMarco said the most important part of the woman's sentence was to protect the public.
"It must be made clear to the community that such behaviour will not be tolerated," he said.
'She appears to show no emotion whatsoever'
Defence attorney Robert Dipietro told CBC News he will not appeal the sentence. "You can't quarrel with what Justice DeMarco has done today, let's put it that way," he said.
However, DiPietro said the judge recognized there were mitigating factors in the case, including the woman's past history as a victim of abuse, though he noted "there's no indication that she suffered any sexual abuse."
"She has a very disturbed set of thoughts about sexual activities, so she obviously needs some help in addressing those issues," said DiPietro.
The woman's lawyer said he's not sure the mother fully grasps what she's done. "She appears to show no emotion whatsoever, but that's just part of her personality … she's fit to stand trial, but I don't know if she understands the seriousness and consequences of her actions."
DiPietro expects his client will serve, at most, another eight months' in jail before she is released on probation, but he said she will never see her little boy again.
"The foster parent indicated the child plays regularly, sings and is really doing well," DiPietro told CBC News.
"I hope that the child doesn't have a recollection of any of these things, and he can go on and be a healthy young boy and grow into a healthy young man."