A Kamloops honours student who sexually assaulted a pair of classmates during a high-school graduation party last spring will spend nearly two years on probation.
The incidents took place during an overnight grad party for a Kamloops high school last year. Provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act prohibit the publication of the name of the school and the name of the offender and victims.
The party took place on May 11, 2018, on property outside Kamloops city limits. It was attended by 60 to 80 students, court heard, with no parental or teacher supervision. Everyone involved in the incident had been drinking, court heard.
At the time of the incident, the attacker was 15 years old. His victims were 16- and 18-year-old girls.
Court heard the attacks began after one of the complainants turned down a sexual advance made by the offender. After being rejected, he asked one of the girls if he could sleep in the tent the two victims were sharing because his friend was vomiting in his tent.
The girls said yes, but told the boy to sleep near the door of the tent while they slept near the back.
An agreed statement of facts describes the incidents involving the attacker sexually groping the two girls intermittently through the night, despite being told to stop touching them and having the girls physically try to stop him.
“[The two victims] describe [the boy’s] behaviour as intermittent, but lasting throughout the night, until around 6:30 a.m., when they packed up their tent and left the campsite,” the agreed statement of facts reads. “[The 16-year-old girl] says that she was scared throughout the night.”
The boy was charged in June and required to change schools.
The 16-year-old girl spoke in court, reading a victim-impact statement detailing complex anxiety and panic attacks in the months since her sexual assault. She also said she has been the subject of jokes at school.
Kamloops provincial court Judge Marianne Armstrong called the girls “courageous” victims, noting a “quite clear expression of lack of consent” made to the boy.
Defence lawyer Ken Walker said the attacker has been an honours student throughout high school and has played varsity sports and been involved in other community organizations.
“He is a good young man with lots of supports in his community,” Walker said. “He truly regrets this event and wishes he had not drank to excess like he did.”
Armstrong pushed back on the alcohol claim.
“Not everybody who drinks alcohol engages in this type of behaviour,” she said. “Even more central to this is the idea of respecting women and how the alcohol interacts with that.”
Walker said the boy, who had no prior criminal record, told him he did not blame alcohol for the incident and wanted to take responsibility.
Armstrong handed the boy a 20-month probation term with conditions requiring he abstain from alcohol and stay away from the victims, with the exception of a potential letter of apology.
“There is some real asymmetry for what has happened to [the attacker] since this has happened and what has happened to the victims,” she said. “School became a horror show for them after this event. Particularly [the 18-year-old girl], she was on the cusp of graduation. … This was supposed to be a celebratory event for graduation. [The 16-year-old girl] ended up dreading school and had to get medicated because she was having anxiety attacks. There is a real asymmetry as far as what happened as a result of this offence. [The boy] did what he could to make his life better, but [the victims] couldn’t.”
The attacker will also be required to undergo counselling as directed by his probation officer. Armstrong said that could include programming for sex offenders.