BY KEITH LACEY
A 74-year-old grandfather who groped his 10-year-old granddaughter while she sat on his lap was sent to jail for 90 days Wednesday.
Justice Guy Mahaffy said he could not accept a joint submission by defence counsel James Mason and assistant Crown attorney Karen Lische that the elderly man receive a conditional sentence to be served at home.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference.
Mahaffy ordered a rare ban on publication of the accused ruling it could lead to the identity of the granddaughter.
Even though the Sudbury senior had no previous criminal record, this incident cried out for a jail sentence as the accused definitely knows right from wrong, and those who interfere with the sexual integrity of young children must be punished harshly, said Mahaffy.
The incident took place last July. The court heard the accused ?wanted to teach her how to masturbate properly.?
The court also heard the accused became severely depressed after losing his wife after taking care of her for 17 years while she was seriously ill.
The court heard the accused had hugged and kissed another young woman for a prolonged period of time after this incident, but the woman didn?t press charges. She did not tell him to stop although she felt uncomfortable and didn?t understand what was happening to her.
The elderly man wept openly in court during the sentencing hearing.
Mahaffy told him he has no doubt the accused is remorseful. However, he couldn?t accede to any joint submission that didn?t include a jail sentence.
?There?s nothing here to indicate he wouldn?t be able to recognize the difference between right and wrong,? said the veteran judge. ?A 75-year-old man can?t use the loss of his wife against the seriousness of this act.
?A grown male doesn?t teach sex to a young girl by physical demonstration?the sexual integrity of this young girl has been violated.?
The fact the accused is the girl?s grandfather and was in a position of trust are strong aggravating factors which demand a jail sentence be imposed, said Mahaffy.
?A conditional sentence would send out the wrong message and it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute,? he said.
Besides the 90-day jail sentence, Mahaffy placed the senior on two years of probation where he?s not to be in the presence of anyone under age 16 unless the young person is accompanied by an adult who knows about this incident.
Mahaffy also ordered the accused to provide a DNA sample for a national crime data bank.
Mason told the court his client accepts the facts as read in relating to his granddaughter, but doesn?t accept any of the facts read into the record relating to the other young woman.
His client is a father of six grown children. He worked in the mining industry for 37 years and has owned another business since 1985, said Mason.
Despite his advanced age, his client still works part-time, he said.
The incident with his granddaughter occurred after his wife died in May 2002, said Mason.
?His wife?s death was devastating for him?he went through an extreme bout of depression,? he said. ?This clouded his judgement.?
There?s ?no rational explanation? for his client?s behaviour and he was so upset he asked to undergo a psychiatric assessment, said Mason.
That assessment indicated he has below average intelligence which could lead to poor decisions. He also suffers from elevated depression.
The report indicates it?s highly unlikely this man would re-offend as he doesn?t suffer from any sexual deviancy, said Mason.