'Trapped in a secret game': Victim of childhood sexual abuse forgives stepfather at sentencing

"Broken" by sexual assault and "torn down by shame" after years of being molested by her stepfather, Taylor French faced the man who spent years abusing her on Wednesday to explain the impact of his crimes.

Allan Dean Griffin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting his 2 stepdaughters

Lisa Fox, Kylie French and Taylor French stand outside the Calgary Courts Centre after Allan Dean Griffin was sentenced to nine years in prison. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

"Broken" by sexual assault and "torn down by shame" after years of being molested by her stepfather, on Wednesday Taylor French faced the man who abused her to explain the impact of his crimes.

"I felt trapped in a secret game," she said of her childhood. "I don't know if it made me who I am today, or if it broke me."

The man Taylor addressed was Allan Dean Griffin, who was sentenced to nine years in prison by Court of Queen's Bench Justice John McCarthy after being found guilty in April of sexual assault.

'I am innocent'

Before he was sentenced, Griffin addressed the court, again denying his guilt.

"I am innocent, I will maintain my innocence," said Griffin from the prisoner's box. "I have never and would never do these things I am accused of."

A publication ban on the names of the accused and the complainants was lifted several years ago at the request of the victims, who are now in their 20s but were between the ages of seven and 14 at the time of the assaults.

Griffin was also originally charged with molesting his biological daughter but was acquitted after trial.

'The biggest mistake of my life'

In 2013, Griffin was found not guilty of the charges after a first trial, but that acquittal was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal because the original trial judge, Justice K. Yamauchi, was found to have relied on "discredited myths and stereotypes" about the disclosure of sexual abuse.

In their testimony, court heard Griffin's stepdaughters eventually told each other about their experiences — considered in law to be major sexual assaults —  before confiding in their biological father, who brought them to the RCMP in 2010.

Lisa Fox, Griffin's ex-wife and the mother of his two victims — Kylie and Taylor French — said she lives with the guilt that many of the crimes against her daughters occurred when Griffin was taking care of them while she was at work, trying to build a career. 

"How could I have not known how evil he was?" she said. "I felt like I had failed as a mother, as a human being on so many levels … my decision to be with Griffin was the biggest mistake of my life."

'I forgave him'

Fox's other daughter also wrote a victim impact statement but asked the judge to read it privately instead of having it read aloud.

Griffin's supporters packed the courtroom and many wore large nametags that read "DEAN."

Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik had proposed a 10 to 12 year prison term while defence lawyer Paul Brunnen asked the judge to consider a five to six year sentence.

Despite the "constant trauma" she lives with, including memory triggers that complicate her relationships with men, Taylor French says she is trying to move on. 

"I forgave him so that I wouldn't be destroyed by him," she said.