Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Powerful victim impact statement made during sentencing of Nanaimo sex offender

Jun 14, 2024 | 6:26 PM

NANAIMO — A victim who long suffered in silence made an impassioned address to the court as she stood just a few feet away from her abuser.

Sentencing arguments in B.C Supreme Court in Nanaimo for Craig Allen Sims, 41, took place on Friday, June 14 after he was convicted earlier this year of a child luring offence.

His crime primarily relates to disturbing private Facebook messages Sims sent to a girl who was between 12 and 13-years-old in 2007 and 2008. A close friend with the offender’s daughter, the abuse of trust by Sims involved him making sexual overtures toward the girl.

“I know you like cuddling with me and stuff like that, but I’m sure you have other things you’d like to do with me that I don’t know about,” was one of many messages flagged by police.

While he pleaded not guilty to child luring, he voluntarily admitted guilt at trial, stating it was obvious to him he was attempting to lay the groundwork for a future relationship.

Sims was found not guilty of three charges related to allegations he inappropriately touched the victim on two occasions, with justice Catherine Wedge stating in late January that the credibility of the complainant wasn’t the issue, but rather the reliability of her evidence was.

The Crown’s Suzanne Cassell lobbied for a 12-month jail sentence, followed by two years probation and for Sims to be included on the National Sex Offender Registry for 10 years.

She proposed a scaled-down number of restrictions tailored for sex offenders to last for two years to ensure Sims not be in position of trust as a paid or volunteer employee with anybody under the age of 16.

“The nature of the communication is aggravating here. They were primarily in 2008 when the victim was 12, turning 13-years-old,” Cassell said, who noted Sims sent her about 135 messages in 2008.

Craig Allen Sims went to trial last fall and was convicted of child luring in late January. (submitted photo)

Victim addressees court
The victim rose to address the court, saying making the statement was exceptionally hard and raised every hair on her body.

“I have spent many years learning how to push my feelings aside always saying to myself ‘It wasn’t that bad, I got out before things escalated.’”

She said she suffered in silence for years, then decided to go to police in 2020 to file a complaint to help protect other potential victims.

The woman, who has her identity protected by the court, reported being traumatized every time Sims sent her a message.

“His abuse wasn’t a moment in time or a bad decision, it was a plan to be executed. He disregarded boundaries and chose to keep pushing me at every opportunity he had.”

Fighting back tears and her voice trembling at times, she described herself as being a “master of hiding in isolation” and the trial process and being forced to acknowledge her history made her “so angry.”

“Angry that I never learned how to process my emotions, angry that my relationships now might be different if I could talk about my feelings rather than shoving them down to protect myself, angry that a father figure in my life decided I wasn’t worth protecting, angry that I didn’t speak up or yell in front of mountaintops.”

She doesn’t think Sims is genuinely remorseful, but rather believes he’s sorry he was caught.

The victim reported she remains traumatized by the offender’s actions, avoids going to certain places in Nanaimo and struggles to communicate her emotions.

“I am not fighting for me, I am fighting for all of the other kids who cannot fight for themselves, the kids who are too scared to say anything or feel they have no other option. A parent’s job is to protect, that is not what this man did.”

A pre-sentence report and psychological assessment were provided for the court.

Sims was deemed a low risk to re-offend during the forensic evaluation.

He declined the opportunity to address the court.

Defence submissions
Defence lawyer Cheyyne Hodson pushed for a 12-month non-custodial sentence and a probationary term between 18 and 24 months.

While case law dictates most people convicted of child luring should be jailed, Hodson said Sims’ circumstances are exceptional, pointing to no prior criminal record as a key consideration.

He also noted his client has suffered greatly as a result of his conviction, referencing a NanaimoNewsNOW article with Sims’ picture published.

“Mr. Sims is known to (the) Nanaimo community generally now for the offence of which he was convicted, that has had a significant impact on Mr. Sims and his family. Mr. Sims has been fired from his job of 20 years as a result of the conviction.”

Sims, who’s not in custody, is a married father of two and stepfather to another.

Court heard he now works a minimum wage job after being let go from his unionized and pensionable position as a janitor at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital

Saying “their social-economic position has suffered greatly”, Hodson told the court Sims’ limited financial resources is why he hasn’t undertaken counselling.

Hodson noted Sims’ wife has also been ostracized in the community, including being “pushed out” of volunteering at her children’s school as a result of her husband’s transgressions.

If a non-custodial sentence were to be accepted, Hodson suggested house arrest for the first year with a condition allowing Sims to continue working to support his family.

Justice Wedge decided to reserve her decision on Sims’ punishment until Friday, July 26.

Join the conversation. Submit your letter to NanaimoNewsNOW and be included on The Water Cooler, our letters to the editor feature.

Ian.holmes@pattisonmedia(dot)com

By Admin

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