St. Clair man sentenced for “shocking and egregious… intimate partner abuse”

·5 min read

A sordid case came before Sarnia Court on Oct. 19 as a man learned his punishment for sharing intimate photos of his wife without her knowledge.

The “betrayal” – as his wife said during her victim impact statement – came to light at the end of December last year when she attempted to find a shopping list on her husband’s phone. Instead she discovered her husband was sending sexually explicit images of her to another man. Many of the photos were taken without the woman’s knowledge.

The photos were accompanied by texts where the husband encouraged the other man to describe what sexual acts he would perform on his wife. The man – who the woman did not know – sent the husband a sexually explicit photo of his own during the exchange.

The woman collected screenshots of her husband’s conversations as evidence. The man turned himself into OPP in March this year. During the investigation another person said the husband had showed them an intimate video of the woman, however the video couldn’t be recovered.

The man received a conditional sentence of one year for his actions, which he will spend under house arrest. This will be followed by 18 months of probation. He cannot have any contact with the woman during the 2.5 years.

The wife delivered an impassioned victim impact statement during the telephone trial that detailed the effects of her husband’s actions. She described him as “the person I chose to spend my life with. I expected him to love, honor, and protect me. He did not protect me. He did not love me. And he certainly did not respect or honor me.”

“It’s impossible to express the feelings I experienced… when I discovered what [husband] had done. Seeing those private images of myself, taken without my knowledge, in a place that I called home. Home is a place where I should feel safe and secure from a predator. In that moment I instantly felt like my heart was being stabbed over and over. My stomach had felt like it had been punched. My hands and body shook, and tears rolled down my face. I’ve never experienced such a strong, physiological reaction. It impacted every part of my being,” the woman says.

“I am still sick to my stomach when I think about the conversation… The vulgar, repulsive, offensive and revolting language that [husband] used to describe what he wanted another person to do to me sexually. I could not have imagined a scenario more degrading. Reading what the other person responded with – what he told [husband] he wanted to do to me – and seeing with my own eyes [husband] not only encourage it, but in the most abhorrent way be turned on by it.”

She went on to explain the moment she confronted her husband. “I’ll never forget him saying ‘It isn’t as bad as you think it is.’ When I close my eyes, I can see the look on his face in that moment, and his voice trying to explain to me what he did was not a big deal, that I was overreacting.”

“There was no remorse or repentance in his voice or his body language. That was almost as hurtful as his actions themselves. In my opinion this is the ultimate betrayal of a husband to a wife. I felt disrespected, humiliated, demeaned, disparaged, and worthless. I have been trying to put the pieces of my life back together that have been shattered completely.”

The woman says she is left to deal with ongoing medical issues following the discovery. “The loss of sleep, the numerous trips I’ve made to the hospital with stress related medical issues, the prescription medication I have to take daily now for the stomach pain caused by unbearable stress. How much time and money I’ve spent on counselling… The frustrations I have felt, the financial burden I’ve experienced, the abundant anxiety, stress, worry, fear, and embarrassment I have felt.”

“I live with this every day, and I have to live with this the rest of my life. Nothing can eradicate the revulsion of [husband’s] actions. He broke my heart, and he broke the law. I have changed forever. I’ve been damaged forever.”

The woman ended on a defiant note however. “I’m a survivor of a heinous and horrendous act… I hope that one day I’m able to love and trust again. I will learn to not be afraid. I have people in my life who love me. I have an incredible family and amazing friends who support, encourage, and stand by me. I will move forward.”

“I will remind myself that when life gives me reasons to break down and cry, I will show life that I have many reasons to smile and laugh. Thank you,” she concluded.

“Thank you for being strong enough to share that with the court,” Justice Deborah Austin says when the woman finished the victim impact statement. Austin added the woman “demonstrated great dignity in the way that she has expressed herself here today.”

The husband responded to his wife’s statement in a monotone. “I’m very sorry and I feel horrible that I went along with doing everything I did. I hope to be a better person moving forward.”

Austin did not mince words in addressing the offense. “This is a shocking and egregious crime of intimate partner abuse that blindsided an unsuspecting spouse. It is an offense of deep and fundamental betrayal of trust, and it is an offense of exploitation of the relationship between partners. It demonstrates a deep disrespect… sharing intimate images of her for what I would describe as cheap and vulgar thrills, all at the expense of his wife’s sense of privacy and personal space.”

“He violated her trust in a most demeaning and dehumanizing way. He exploited her both sexually and emotionally. It is a kind of abuse which had a devastating impact on [the woman].”

The man will be under house arrest for the entirety of his conditional sentence and probation. He cannot contact the woman or go within 100 meters of anywhere she might be. He is ordered to take counselling for sexual offending and healthy relationships and cannot use any messaging or social media apps that can share pictures. Forfeiture of the images, a DNA sample and a $200 fine were also imposed.

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent