PEI

Prison sentence recommended for man who sexually abused 7 girls

The Crown and defence lawyers are recommending a two-year prison sentence for Leo Arnold Dowling, 63, of Watervale, P.E.I. He was convicted after a Supreme Court trial of sexual offences against seven girls, who were five to 15 at the time of the offences, back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Leo Dowling convicted of offences

Leo Dowling arrived at P.E.I. Supreme Court Wednesday to hear his lawyer and the Crown make arguments over an appropriate sentence for him, after being convicted of sexual offences against seven girls. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Crown and defence lawyers are recommending a two-year prison sentence for Leo Arnold Dowling, 63, of Watervale, P.E.I., who was convicted of sexual offences against young girls. 

Dowling was found guilty after a P.E.I. Supreme Court trial last fall. The victims were seven girls, who were five to 15 at the time of the offences, back in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Dowling pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him and continues to maintain he did nothing wrong.

The seven victims testified at the trial that Dowling fondled them, in some cases, dozens of times, under and on top of their clothing.

A court publication ban prevents identifying any of the victims.

Convicted of 15 charges

Justice Nancy Key convicted Dowling of 15 charges, including: 10 charges of sexual assault, two charges of sexual interference, two charges of sexual exploitation, and one charge of indecent assault.

In her decision in January, Key said she found the victims credible and did not believe Dowling's denials. 

Court heard the victims came forward recently, fearing for the safety of other children.

The Crown and defence lawyers Wednesday jointly recommended a two-year prison sentence for Dowling.

The Crown prosecutor Valerie Moore said she wants Dowling put on probation for three years after he gets out of prison so the justice system can keep an eye on him. Three years is the maximum length the courts can impose for probation.

Moore also asked the judge to put Dowling on the national sex offender registry for life.

Dowling's lawyer, Scott Barry, said his client has no prior record and has been a contributing member of society.

'I thought no one would believe me'

Several victim impact statements were presented to Justice Nancy Key to consider in her sentencing.

One victim read her statement to the court: "As a teen when this was happening to me I was withdrawn and insecure. I thought no one would believe me.… I had a lot of fear to overcome.… Since my 20s I have had anxiety and depression."

Moore also read excerpts from other statements: "Since the molestation happened I became defensive of my body and did not want anyone to touch me because it reminded me of him. I felt isolated…. 30 years later it still hurts."

Another victim said she never lets her kids go to sleepovers, as a result of her own abuse.

Several victims said they are afraid Dowling will reoffend and victimize other children.

Key will sentence Dowling May 16.

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With files from Brian Higgins

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