A Port Alberni mother and stepfather pleaded guilty on Friday to assault in a suspected child-luring case involving their 13-year-old daughter.
The couple and a family friend had been accused of assault causing bodily harm and unlawful confinement. They were alleged to have beaten and tied up a man who had come to the couple’s home to allegedly have sex with their 13-year-old daughter.
A publication ban was put in place to protect the girl’s identity.
The mother and stepfather originally pleaded not guilty on Jan. 2, but changed their pleas on Friday in provincial court in Port Alberni. The girl’s mother pleaded to a lesser charge of common assault, while the stepfather pleaded to one charge of assault causing bodily harm.
The family friend also pleaded guilty to one count assault causing bodily harm.
Charges of unlawful confinement were stayed for all three.
All were given conditional discharges of six to 12 months, meaning if they follows certain conditions, they won’t have a criminal record for the matter once their sentences are up.
The assaults occurred last April, when RCMP were called to a disturbance in the 3600-block of Bruce Street and discovered a 28-year-old man injured and secured with zap-straps.
The man, who is the subject of an ongoing child-luring investigation, had allegedly come to the home to meet and have sex with a 13-year-old girl, according to the girl’s mother.
RCMP have said the man has not been charged, and that the incident is “still under investigation.” Crown counsel confirmed there are no charges against the suspect.
In presenting the sentences, Justice Ronald Lamperson cautioned people against vigilante justice.
“We don’t in Canadian society condone vigilante justice,” he said. “That message should be clear to the community.”
A small group of supporters sitting in the courtroom clapped after the judge sentenced the mother and stepfather.
Maureen Kelly was one of many who arrived early outside the courthouse to hold a sign in protest of the charges, even though she doesn’t know the people involved.
“Maybe it wasn’t right what they did, but they were left with little choice,” Kelly said before going inside to listen to proceedings. “How else are you supposed to protect your children?”
Natasha Geddes also went to the courthouse in support of the parents. “I think it’s disgusting. Maybe what the parents did wasn’t the greatest, but I don’t think there’s anything else they could have done.”