“When I got to the park and parked my car, I said to myself, ‘This is a breach, but it also looks like fun with the kids and the adults.”
That was 66-year-old David Ernest Friesen’s testimony during the second-day of his trial Wednesday in Penticton court when asked about allegedly breaching probation on Oct. 14, 2018, and entering the Kiwanis Park Playground in Penticton on Edmonton Ave.
Friesen is facing two counts of breach of probation, two counts of exposing genitals to persons under 16 and one count of committing an indecent act in a public place.
Friesen was previously convicted of exposing his genitals to two children in 2017 and was under probation when he testified that he entered the playground on Oct. 14 to “have fun” and “enjoy his afternoon.” Conditions of his probation stipulate that he is not to have contact with minors under the age of 16 and that he not attend beaches, public parks, community centres or any other place a person under 16 could reasonably be unless he was with an adult who was made aware of his probation order and previous criminal history.
The Penticton court heard further testimony from Friesen Wednesday regarding his past criminal record and the accounts of that day, where he is alleged to have exposed himself to an eight and 13-year-old. During his testimony, Friesen admitted to knowingly breaching his probation order but denied exposing himself to the children.
“I know it was something I shouldn’t have done. It was just a moment of weakness, I decided I wanted to go out and enjoy the afternoon,” said Friesen in response to why he chose to drive to and enter the park that day following his church service.
“What exactly is fun for a 66-year-old man playing with children that he doesn’t know?” asked Crown counsel Nashina Devji.
“I had fun playing tag with them … and they did too.”
Contrary to the testimony given on March 12 by the 13-year-0ld involved in the incident, Friesen said he was playing with the boy and his younger sister once the other families had left the park. He described playing tag and other games using the playground equipment with the children when they suddenly decided to leave.
According to the teen’s testimony, he was not aware that Friesen was playing with him and his sister and only noticed the man when he heard him call out to come over to him. The teen said when he looked over, the man had his pants pulled halfway down his thighs and he could see his “private parts.” The boy said he immediately went over to his sister and took her home and that he did not believe his sister saw the man exposed.
When questioned by his defence lawyer, James Pennington, if he exposed himself to the children, Friesen said no and reasoned that if he had, both children would have seen, not just the boy.
“If I had exposed myself to (the boy), then I would have also exposed myself to (the girl). Because if it happened to (the one), it had to happen to (the other),” said Friesen.
Friesen testified that he and the children were using a digging tool provided at the park when the kids got up and left. The teen had testified that he was on the monkey bars and his sister was on the slide when Friesen allegedly exposed his genitals to the children, causing them to leave.
Due to the contradiction of testimonies, Pennington delivered his closing statement urging Judge Gregory Koturbash to not consider the teen’s testimony as reliable in relation to Friesen’s charges of exposing his genitals to a person under 16. He also reasoned that because the teen could not recall certain details about the incident, he may be wrong or incorrect in other parts of his testimony.
“(The boy) is adamant that he saw Mr. Friesen with his pants down and exposed, that’s what he said and, we can only assume at this point, that’s what he believes,” said Pennington. “I suggest that he is mistaken… If he is mistaken about playing tag with this gentleman, he could be mistaken in other aspects of this evidence as well.”
Devji said the teen was honest during his testimony about details he was unsure of, but was very clear about what he alleges he saw Friesen do.
“(The teen) was on the stand for quite a long time, and (at) 13 years old I submit that he was a particularly good witness,” said Devji. “He was able to provide to the police a clear description of the man at the park, including age, clothing, facial features. He even managed to pick this man out of a photo lineup, where (Friesen’s photo) was placed among 10 or so other people that had similar appearances.
“He said he was absolutely certain of what he saw. It is fairly rare for a young child to see a grown man with his penis exposed at a park. It’s something that would stick out and be immediately noticeable,” said Devji. “That’s something the boy saw, and he also saw it on a man that he didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to but observed well enough to identity in a photo line up.”
A decision on these charges will be given on March 14 at the Penticton Court House at 9:30 a.m.