British Columbia

Man's abusive texts to former spouse amount to family violence against their daughter: B.C. judge

A "staggering volume" of abusive text messages sent by a man to his former partner constitutes family violence committed against their seven-year-old daughter, according to a decision in Prince George provincial court.

Over 700 pages of harassing and threatening text messages brought as evidence in the protection order hearing

A provincial court judge in Prince George said abusive text messages amount to family violence in the case of a woman seeking a protection order against her former spouse. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

A "staggering volume" of abusive text messages sent by a man to his former partner constitutes family violence committed against their seven-year-old daughter, according to a decision in Prince George provincial court.

Judge Cassandra Malfair made the ruling in granting a protection order to the girl and her mother, identified as K.R.L., against the girl's father, identified as N.P.

Over 700 pages of text messages N.P. sent to K.R.L. were brought as evidence. Most were from a two-month period between August and October of 2021, and were sent in breach of court-issued conduct orders meant to limit or stop N.P. from communicating with K.R.L. altogether.

"The text messages themselves are hateful, cruel and vulgar. They are intended to psychologically and emotionally abuse K.R.L.," said Malfair in her oral decision. 

"There were days where N.P. would start texting K.R.L. in the morning and text her continuously until 11 o'clock at night." 

According to Malfair, N.P. used derogatory epithets like a "deadbeat mom," "scumbag" and "stupid," and "particularly likes to refer to [K.R.L.] as a 'c--t'" in the texts.

She said N.P. also taunted K.R.L. about dumping her for a "hotter girlfriend," who he said would make a better mother to their daughter because unlike K.R.L., the girlfriend didn't work.

The decision noted N.P. does not work himself and has criminal convictions for growing and selling marijuana.

"It is concerning N.P. eagerly seeks to raise a female child while holding such antiquated views toward women and readily resorting to the use of misogynist language when angry," said Malfair. 

Terrorizing behaviour

The decision goes on to document a long list of terrorizing behaviour on N.P.'s part.

On one occasion when K.R.L. and the daughter were out, he broke into their home, sent K.R.L. a picture of the front door ajar and scrawled the word "rat" on her bedroom door and wall.

Malfair said given N.P.'s criminal history, she found his repeated use of "rat" to be threatening. 

"In the criminal underworld persons labelled as rats are typically subjected to or threatened with retaliative acts of physical violence. I do not accept N.P.'s explanation that he uses the word 'rat' as an insult directed at a mother who denies a father parenting time."

In other texts N.P. threatened to burn down K.R.L.'s home, distribute nude photos of her and forcibly take the daughter away from her 16-year-old babysitter or daycare.

Malfair said when K.R.L. called the police after receiving threatening texts, N.P. would just send another barrage of taunting messages.

"N.P.'s communications are intended to make K.R.L. feel powerless to stop his emotional abuse of her," she said.

"He has stated plainly that he will 'never stop,' referring to his harassment of her, and that he is prepared to go to jail ...  and, 'when I get out of jail I'll be texting more, I don't care.'" 

'Hateful and alienating statements'

Although N.P. had not made direct threats to the daughter, Malfair said evidence proved he had demeaned K.R.L. in front of the child, which falls under the broad definition of family violence by exposing a child to "hateful and alienating statements directed at the protected parent.''

In texts, N.P. told K.R.L. he would be "bashing" her in front of their daughter during his parenting time.

"'She already hates you just wait a bit longer lol,'" and, "'at least when I got to bed tonight I know she loves me more than she loves you scumbag, I'll be dissing you all weekend in front of her also you home-wrecking piece of s--t.'"

Although N.P. claimed in cross examination the texts were empty threats, Malfair rejected the assertion, saying "he has demonstrated repeatedly and dramatically that he cannot or will not restrain himself when he is angry regardless of the consequences." 

She said because N.P.'s relentless emotional abuse of K.R.L. was tied to him being allowed parenting time with the daughter, "this is one of those rare cases that in order to protect one spouse from further family violence the court must also restrict contact between the abusive spouse and child."

N.P. was under court-imposed conduct orders when he sent most of the texts. The first, issued in February 2021, restricted communication between him and K.R.L, who separated in 2020, to text messages related to matters of parenting arrangements.

On Sept. 3, 2021, two days after K.R.L. applied for the protection order, a different judge suspended N.P.'s parenting time and issued a second conduct order prohibiting him from communicating with K.R.L. and the child altogether. 

Previously, N.P. had custody of the daughter after school and every second weekend.