Big Brothers volunteer gets 2 years in sex abuse case

A former volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland has been sentenced to two years in prison on sex-related charges involving two pre-teen boys, one of whom he mentored for three years.

Newfoundland organization faces civil suit related to incidents involving pre-teen boy

A sheriff's officer escorts a former Big Brother convicted of sex-related offences out of provincial court in St. John's on Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)

A former volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland has been sentenced to two years in prison on sex-related charges involving two pre-teen boys, one of whom he mentored for three years.

The former Big Brother pleaded guilty to three charges in Newfoundland and Labrador provincial court on Tuesday afternoon —  two counts of touching for a sexual purpose and one of invitation to sexual touching of a person under the age of 16. The Crown withdrew two other charges.

The second victim was a family friend of the boy, who was staying at his house for a night this past summer.

“There’s a breach of trust in this particular case,” Crown prosecutor Jason House told the court, referring to the man’s role as a Big Brother.

“He’s taken advantage of that situation.”

CBC News is not identifying the man, because doing so could potentially reveal the identity of his victims, whose identities are protected by a publication ban.

Big Brothers Big Sisters matches children with volunteers in mentoring programs across Canada. (CBC)

According to a victim impact statement read to the court, the man's former Little Brother said he is afraid to go to sleep and wakes up screaming and yelling.

The boy also said he was upset that the man pretended to be friends with his father, who was dying at the time — and after the father died, he took advantage of the Big Brother relationship.

The Crown and defence agreed on a joint sentencing submission of two years behind bars, plus a probation term of three years and the man's name will be listed on the sex offender registry for 20 years.

The former Big Brother will also be barred from areas where there are children under the age of 16.

Newfoundland and and Labrador provincial court Judge Lois Skanes accepted the joint sentencing submission.

Skanes noted that it will take the former Little Brother a long time to get over what happened to him.

Prior fraud conviction

Last month, a CBC News investigation revealed that the former Big Brother had a fraud conviction dating back to 2006.

Big Brothers Big Sisters defended its screening process, noting that fraud is not on the list of crimes that bar someone from becoming a volunteer with the organization.

In October, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada's national president said officials will take a closer look to see if changes should be made to screening policies.

“In our 38-year history operating in the province, this is the most difficult situation Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland has ever faced,” executive director Kelly Leach noted in an emailed statement to CBC News on Tuesday. "We are dismayed and deeply saddened.”

We are dismayed and deeply saddened.- Kelly Leach, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland

Meanwhile, the mother of the former Little Brother has also filed a civil suit on behalf of her son.

That lawsuit names his abuser and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland as defendants, and seeks damages.

The civil matter is scheduled to be back in court later this week.

The mother told reporters Tuesday her son is not faring well.

“He’s doing terrible,” the mother said. “He harboured this for three years.”

She said it’s difficult for him to resume normal life with all of his fears and anxieties.

“It’s hard for him to be a kid anymore,” the mother said.