An Ottawa man broke his infant son’s ankles in September 2014, then sexually assaulted his five-year-old stepdaughter during his long wait for trial, a court has heard.
Details of the horrific case emerged last week in an Ottawa courtroom where the man, a 24-year-old security guard, pleaded guilty to four crimes: assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and possession of child pornography.
He cannot be identified because of a court-ordered publication ban to protect the children involved.
The man was originally arrested in December 2014, charged with assaulting his month-old son, and released from custody.
But the case took so long to reach trial that a judge threw out the charge against him in November 2016, saying the almost two-year delay offended his constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time.
Months earlier, the Supreme Court decision in R. v. Jordan had set tough new limits for trial delays.
In December 2017, however, Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin overturned the trial judge’s Jordan ruling in the case and ordered a new trial. The man’s assault trial was scheduled to begin next month.
But the complexion of the case changed dramatically in mid-July when he was charged by Ottawa police with sexually abusing his stepdaughter throughout the course of 2018.
This time, justice was swift.
He pleaded guilty last Wednesday to harming both his biological son and his stepdaughter. He is to be sentenced in November after a full psychiatric assessment, including tests to determine whether he has a deviant sexual interest in children.
News of his guilty pleas came as an immense relief to the mother and grandmother of the injured infant.
“We were hugging each other,” said the child’s grandmother, who was deeply disturbed by the length of time it took for the assault charge to be resolved. “This has caused the family so much anguish, so much pain.”
After learning the man was living with another woman and her children, the mother and grandmother twice called the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and warned them of the danger he posed. The CAS investigated, they said, but deemed the risk acceptable.
“We knew there was a possibility something could happen, and something did,” the mother said.
The grandmother said the father should not have been allowed any contact with children after he was first charged: “I hate our system and how it operates because it allowed him to be able to strike again against another helpless child.”
The facts read into the court record on Wednesday were disturbing.
Court heard that CHEO officials contacted the Children’s Aid Society on Sept. 25, 2014, after doctors treated a month-old infant with two fractured ankles.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Ottawa police interviewed the boy’s father who eventually admitted that he “flipped” the infant by his ankles from back to front. The man told police he was “exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed” by the infant, who would sometimes urinate on him when he changed his diaper. He said he did not realize that he had harmed the child by flipping him.
He pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm Wednesday in connection with that incident.
Court also heard that the man, after being removed from his son’s home, became romantically involved with another woman, who had several children of her own. After years of living together, they were to be married in July.
One week before the wedding, the woman asked her five-year-old daughter what she was doing in the basement with her fiancé. The girl was defensive, court heard, and told her mother the two had watched “special movies” together.
The woman confronted her fiancé, who told her that the girl had caught him masturbating to a porn video. Unable to explain sex to the child, he said, he had her watch the porn video.
The mother quit her job to provide closer supervision to her children, and the wedding went ahead as planned.
Court heard the woman subsequently investigated her husband’s email account and found one message that featured her daughter’s name in the subject line.
She opened the email, and discovered a cellphone video of her daughter performing oral sex on him.
The woman demanded that he immediately turn himself in to police. He went to an OPP detachment and was transferred to the Ottawa Police Service. He was arrested and charged one week after his wedding, and held in custody.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the family’s home where they discovered a bag with sex toys. They also seized the man’s computer and cellphone.
In an agreed statement of facts read in court — and later signed by the man at the judge’s request — he admitted that on multiple occasions during 2018 he made his stepdaughter perform oral sex, and filmed her in the act.
Crown attorney Fara Rupert told court that a forensic analysis of the man’s electronic devices was not yet complete and that police could lay more charges depending on what that investigation disclosed.
“No promises have been made in that regard,” she told Ontario Court Justice Hugh Fraser.
The man will remain in custody until his sentencing in November.