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February 21, 2011 permalink
A father used to whip his children to correct their behavior. One child that he whipped was still in diapers. The "large red whip marks" left on the toddler launched a criminal investigation. In one instance the father ordered one of his young boys into the basement after he had kicked his daughter. The father then headed downstairs with a leather belt and whipped his young son so severely that the little boy could not walk up the stairs after the assault.
How did this father avoid jail? He was a member of the Ottawa police force. The sentence imposed by the court will allow him to continue as a member of the force. The story does not say where his children are now.
Police officer avoids jail for child abuse
Given conditional discharge for whipping his children as form of discipline
OTTAWA — A disgraced Ottawa police officer, who pleaded guilty to severely whipping his young children as a form of discipline, has been spared jail.
Justice Gilles Renaud on Friday sentenced him to a conditional discharge in the child-abuse case.
"I find that the refusal of a discharge in this instance would be contrary to the public interest by depriving the community of the skills and talents of (the accused) as a police officer," Renaud ruled.
The judge also prohibited the officer from physically punishing his children for two years.
In court in Cornwall on Friday afternoon, Renaud acknowledged the sentence was lenient, but he said he sided with the officer's ex-wife who had pleaded for mercy in her victim-impact statement. She told the court she feared her four children would lose financial security if their father lost his job.
Crown Attorney Dan Brisebois argued that the public needed to be sent a message that "when you abuse a child, you seriously run the risk of going to jail." But the judge disagreed, citing past decisions that favoured leniency.
The officer, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, used to whip his children to correct their behaviour.
One child that he whipped was still in diapers. The "large red whip marks" left on the toddler are what launched the criminal investigation.
In one instance documented at sentencing, the officer ordered one of his young boys into the basement after he had kicked his daughter.
The officer then headed downstairs with a leather belt and whipped his young son so severely that the little boy could not walk up the stairs after the assault.
The officer was originally charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of assault with a weapon. He pleaded guilty to assault at Christmas after the more serious charges were dropped.
It was his ex-wife who first called police about the abuse. She told court in a statement that she "never thought it would have resulted with criminal charges." She said she wanted only to improve the lives of her children.
The Ottawa police officer has taken parenting and anger management courses this past year.
In her victim-impact statement, the officer's ex-wife said: "If he is the changed person he claims to be then I cannot see any problems in the future."
In an agreed statement of facts filed in court, his ex-wife said she had always thought the officer's method of punishment was "too severe for children," but she said she was unable to stop (him).
The officer declined to speak at the hearing. Outside the courtroom, he could be seen laughing moments after the ruling.
According to his lawyer, the officer has expressed remorse.
"He has come to understand how criminal his behaviour was," Bill Carroll told court.
The court also heard that corporal punishment is acceptable in the officer's homeland though no evidence was entered to establish the statement. The prosecutor told the court that did not matter. He said the punishment meted out exceeded the Canadian standard. The prosecutor also reminded the court that "agents of the state" should obey its laws.
The officer's conditional discharge requires him to obey the law, and as the judge said, to "continue to prove himself" for the next two years. If he does, the officer will not have a criminal record.
The officer is suspended with pay and the Ottawa Police's internal-affairs unit is reviewing the case to see if charges under the Police Services Act are warranted in the child abuse case. The child abuse happened in 2009 and the criminal case was investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Gary Dimmock can be reached at email@example.com
Source: Ottawa Citizen