Describing an assault on a 14-year-old girl as horrible and monstrous, a provincial court judge gave a Kamloops adoptive mother a six-month conditional sentence on Friday, including two months' house arrest.
The 50-year-old woman was ordered to undergo counselling as part of her conditional sentence order, but Judge Stella Frame stopped short of imposing a jail sentence.
A worker with the Ministry of Children and Family Development called police last October after the girl showed up at a friend's house saying that her aunt had kicked her in the face. The woman is the girl's great aunt but provides a family home as the adoptive mother of the girl and her sister.
Crown prosecutor Don Mann told court that the girl had spent the day with friends instead of attending school. Confronting the girl, her great aunt pushed her to the floor and began kicking her, "five times, maybe 20," Mann said. The girl ran from the home, was picked up by a passing female motorist and dropped off at the friend's house, where a parent called authorities.
An aggravating feature of the assault was the fact that the accused was in a position of trust, said Mann, who suggested that two to three months' incarceration would be warranted. However, since the public would not be endangered, he proposed a conditional sentence to be served in the community.
Defence counsel Renzo Caron told Judge Stella Frame that the incident was out of character for his client.
Around the time of the assault, the girl went missing for nine days and was later hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, so there were underlying issues that contributed to the violence, he noted.
"Today there appears to be a restoration of the family unit," he said. The family, including the girl, now 15, sat together in court as her great aunt appeared before the judge. The girl has improved since she was placed in St. Ann's Academy, and her sister is doing quite well academically.
The girl is currently in foster care. Although the family is reconciling, Frame ordered that there be no contact between the two without the agreement of Secwepemc Child and Family Services.
Frame acknowledged that the girl is undergoing adolescent challenges with drugs and alcohol. However, it is up to adults to maintain control in such situations, she stressed.
"It was violent and it was horrible, and no child should have to endure that," Frame said before imposing a sentence that includes counselling as instructed.
"You do need counselling. As long as your fuse was, why that violence was so off-side, so over the top."
The judge also imposed a no-alcohol-or-drugs condition, which is mandatory with jail sentences served in the community.