Ottawa

Family 'furious' with court after sexual assault charges stayed in home daycare case

An Ottawa father says the staying of sexual assault charges against a teen accused of sexually assaulting his young daughter left him and his family feeling angry and frustrated by the criminal justice system.

Warning: This story contains graphic details of an alleged sexual assault involving children

Three charges against a 15-year-old were stayed on Jan. 24, 21 months after the teen was arrested following allegations of sexual assault involving toddlers at a home daycare operated by his mother. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

An Ottawa father says the staying of sexual assault charges against a teen accused of sexually assaulting his young daughter left him and his family feeling angry and frustrated by the criminal justice system.

Three charges against the 15-year-old were stayed Jan. 24, 21 months after the teen was arrested in 2015 following allegations of sexual assault involving toddlers at a home daycare operated by his mother.

The father cannot be named in order to protect the identity his three-year-old daughter, who complained of the alleged abuse.

"Furious. It's really hard to put into words to be honest," he told Kelly Crowe, guest host of CBC Radio's The Current, recalling the moment he heard the judge's decision to stay the charges.

"That is probably one of the most frustrating situations I've ever been in. You're trying to stay composed, but it's difficult."

Ontario Court Justice David Paciocco said the accused's right to a speedy trial had been violated by delays in the court proceedings.

He pointed to the Supreme Court's "Jordan decision" from last July, which set reasonable time limits for trial — 18 months for most criminal cases and 30 months for the most serious cases, including murder.

Paciocco said the acceptable period for young offenders should be shorter than for adults, suggesting a maximum of 15 months.

'Things a parent doesn't want to hear'

The family had been sending their toddler to the home daycare for about a year when she told them one Easter weekend she didn't want to go back.

The father said this was unusual since she had friends at the daycare and seemed to be enjoying it.

He said the child described the teen taking out his penis, that he had licked her, and other "things a parent doesn't want to hear.

"This picture she was painting for us was so clear...we couldn't ignore it," he said.

"It was obvious that there was something disturbing going on in that house, and there was no way we were taking her back there."

He and his wife took their daughter to police.

Court ordeal

The father said the court system was "stressful" for his family, made even worse because the family wasn't supposed to talk about the case.

"You want to get information, but you're not allowed to have some of that information," he said.

"You're not supposed to discuss the situation with your spouse, you're not supposed to talk to the child about it. It's hard to really work through it, because you're not allowed to talk about it."

The Crown lawyer didn't think the Supreme Court's ruling on trial delays would apply since the Jordan decision didn't come until July 2016, after the 15-year-old's trial had begun.

The father said there were delays related to technical equipment connecting the courtroom to an adjacent room where the alleged victims — all children — gave their testimony.

"It seems like a ridiculous reason for a delay like that to contribute to a stayed charge of that severity, to me," he said.

Convicted on another count

After the initial three charges were stayed, the 15-year-old faced one remaining charge involving another toddler at the same home daycare.

That charge, also involving a three-year-old girl, was laid eight months after the initial three charges, and was therefore not stayed.

On Jan. 30, the teen was found guilty of exposing himself for a sexual purpose. A sentencing hearing is expected in June, according to defence lawyer Mark Ertel.

In the decision to convict on that final charge, Paciocco addressed the testimony of the three-year-old at the centre of the charges that were stayed, saying that while she's a "sweet child," she was "not a credible or reliable witness."

with files from CBC Radio's The Current

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