Father sentenced to seven years in prison for sexual abuse of daughter

The case of an Edmonton man who sexually assaulted his daughter over a period of several years is "a complete tragedy," a judge said before sentencing him to seven years in prison.

Assaults only stopped when younger sibling came forward to a teacher

An Edmonton man was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing his daughter over a period of four years. (CBC)

An Edmonton man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting his daughter over a period of several years in a case the judge called "a complete tragedy."

A court heard the family has been ripped apart by the man's actions and the girl — along with her two younger siblings who lived in the home at the time — will forever be scarred by what happened.

"I have no doubt, this was an on-going nightmare in this household," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil said.

The man, 34, cannot be named to protect the identity of his children.

Belzil said he accepted a defence submission that the man himself had a terrible childhood, also rife with sexual abuse and family dysfunction. The man also struggled with drugs and alcohol. 

But his conduct, the judge said, was "despicable."

Girl told not to disclose

Earlier this year, the man pleaded guilty to one count of incest, one count of sexual interference, and another unrelated count of assault with a weapon.

The abuse started in 2013, when the girl was nine, according to the agreed statement of facts.

It continued for years, even after the girl once told her father she feared she was pregnant.

"The accused repeatedly told (the girl) not to tell her mother or anyone else because he would get kicked out of the house; he and their mother would go to jail and the girls would be taken away," the document states.

The accused repeatedly told (the girl) not to tell her mother or anyone else because he would get kicked out of the house.- Agreed Statement of Facts

When the girl eventually told her mother what was happening, the man apologized to his children. Their mother did not report the abuse to police but told her common-law-partner he could not be alone with the girls while she was at work.

But the mother worked three jobs, and was frequently away from the home, the court heard.

The middle sister once witnessed what was happening. She was often sent upstairs by her father, along with the youngest sister, when the abuse occurred.

The assaults continued for another year until the middle sister, racked with guilt, broke down at school and told a teacher what was happening.

All three girls are now in foster care and their mother is facing charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and causing a child to need protection.

A cycle of abuse

Crown prosecutor Jennifer Danker argued for a sentence of between eight to ten years. She called the man's actions "planned, deliberate, and manipulative."

She said the man had the opportunity to address his issues with drugs and alcohol. While he apologized when the girl first disclosed the abuse to her mother, he did not change. The abuse only stopped when authorities were alerted, she noted.

But defence lawyer Nicole Stewart said her client has extreme remorse for his actions. She read a letter the man wrote, describing his childhood in Central America. 

I thought he would change. I honestly did.- Mother of abuse victim

The man wrote that he was sexually assaulted for the first time when he was six years old by an uncle. In the years that followed, an aunt also molested him. From there, the abuse continued by other relatives and adults.

He wrote that he was diagnosed with his first sexually-transmitted infection when he was seven.

The man came to Canada as a young child, but the family dysfunction continued here.

"I'm at a point in my life when I know I've failed horribly and I need help," he wrote.

The defence asked for between five and six years of incarceration.

Among the victim impact statements was one from the man's ex-common law partner and mother of the girls. She read in court that she had trusted her ex-partner.

"I thought he would change," she said, tearing up. "I honestly did."

The two oldest girls have said they never want to see the man again. The daughter who suffered through the sexual abuse no longer refers to the man as her father, but only by his first name.