The father of a 12-year-old girl who allegedly had sex with much older guys believes she will overcome it, but isn’t sure about himself.
“I wouldn’t mind these boys understanding my life has been destroyed because of this,” said the man, whose name the Star is withholding to protect his daughter.
“My daughter is young. We can get her the counselling she needs. But in the meantime, I’m not young. I’m damaged huge because of this.”
Police say the girl was one of three who were involved in sexual activity with four males, aged 16, 16, 19, and 20. The four males have been charged with sexual interference. The other girls, her friends, were 12 and 13 at the time of the alleged offences in January and February.
Canada’s age of consent is 16, although 14 and 15-year-olds may have partners up to five years older, and 12 and 13-year-olds may have partners up to two years older.
The father says last year he noticed a change in his daughter’s behaviour and the friends she was hanging out with.
During a visit to his place, he looked at her cell phone and saw pictures of her with friends “sniffing some sort of powder.”
He went to police, who investigated, but did not press charges. Then in early March, he learned his daughter was involved in sexual activity with much older boys.
“She and her friend came and talked to me about it one night because apparently some of the boys involved were now being mean to them and ignoring them,” he says. “When I found out, it was over. I told her she wasn’t allowed to hang out [with them].”
He believes the boys were giving her drugs, which then led to sex.
“I don’t think it was a prostitution thing going on. It was give them drugs, talk about sex, get them curious and in the mood. They worked these little girls for months.”
He again went to police, which resulted in the recent charges.
His daughter was kicked out of school and is now living in another community. He believes the other girls have also left town.
“I thought that would be much better than me keeping her here,” the man says. “She was still getting into too much trouble in this town.”
He says his daughter regularly snuck out at night.
“I was staying up until 5 in the morning making sure she was good and asleep. She would stay up until 3 waiting for me to fall asleep and I would have to outlast her.”
He says his daughter understands having sex with much older males is “not normal,” but she had been desensitized by exposure to sexuality and drug culture.
“With the times, with the Internet, everything’s geared toward sex and children. There’s a huge emphasis on it,” he says.
The man has met three of the accused, and has some sympathy for one.
“He is a very meek, messed up kid that I really feel sorry for,” he says. “There’s hope for him. I have great faith he’s going to come around.”
Another, however, he describes as “most definitely a predator.” He has only met the third fellow once, and doesn’t know who the fourth is. Two are due back in court next week and the others August 9.
The man says he’s had trouble coping.
“Every guy in this town under 30 that fits the profile, I have to stop myself from tackling,” he says. “I’m emotionally unstable because of it. Even though it didn’t happen to me, it happened to the person I love most in the world.”
Although presently unable to work due to an injury, the man says once healed, he plans a fresh start in another town. He adds that he has trouble trusting anyone and expects to be in counselling for years.
However, he praises victim services worker Sarah Bolton of the Advocacy Centre.
“She’s been amazing. She’s been everything she said she would be and more,” he says. “Sarah is fighting for my daughter.”
On the other hand, he’s critical of the police response to his initial drug complaint, feeling he wasn’t taken seriously, and that the later sexual activity might have been prevented.
However, Nelson police chief Wayne Holland says the allegations were “followed up exhaustively and promptly and found to be unfounded.”
The man also believes the three girls are not the only victims.
“It’s not an isolated incident with these boys and these girls,” he says. “This town is infested with sexual predators. It’s unbelievably rampant.”
Holland refutes this as well.
“This is one of the safest cities I have ever experienced,” he says. “Parents have no reason to be concerned, as long as they’re being reasonably vigilant to know where their kids are and what they’re doing, whether they’re male or female.”
Holland agrees, however, that such incidents can happen in communities of any size, and that some may not be reported.
“In some cases people are reluctant to come forward because they’re so intimidated or absolutely affected by it,” he says. However, if victims aren’t comfortable coming to police, he urges them to seek help from places such as the Advocacy Centre.
“We trust them implicitly. We want some professional or support agency to do what they can to help the victims, notwithstanding whether the police are brought into it.”
Holland says police take any such allegations seriously, as they did in this case.