Parents sentenced, fined as ‘general deterrence’ for beating girls

Vancouver Sun (Canada), Jan. 25, 2003
Dan Rowe

A Vancouver man who beat one of his teenaged daughters with a broomstick for failing to clean her room was sentenced Friday to three months in jail.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Tysoe said he was following the principle of “general deterrence” when he sentenced the man, who also slapped another daughter in the face until her nose bled for attending a Buddhist temple and refusing to eat meat.

The man’s wife was fined $500 for her role in the assaults, which included cutting the girls’ hair against their will and tying the hands and feet of one of them.

Both were convicted earlier by a jury. Neither can be named because of a publication ban.

Court was told the assaults began in late 1999 and continued into the early months of 2000 after two of the couple’s four children began to frequent a Buddhist temple and declared their intention to become vegetarians.

The parents believed the two girls were falling under the spell of the temple, which they compared to a cult.

Prosecutor Carla Taylor said the violence began with the forced haircuts and culminated with an incident in which the father tied one daughter’s hands and feet before slapping her repeatedly in the face, causing her nose to bleed and face to bruise.

During this beating, Taylor said, the father said, “I’m going to slap you until you awaken from this cult.”

Court was told a police officer and then a social worker told the couple on two occasions to stop treating their daughters that way.

Citing a series of precedents, Taylor called for sentences of four to six months in prison for the father and two to three months for the mother.

That outraged the couple’s lawyer, Peter Kendall.

“This is overkill,” he told the court. “This is like the cultural revolution of political correctness. There wasn’t this behaviour before and there certainly hasn’t been any since.”

Kendall, describing the offences as “overblown,” said the couple cut the girls’ hair short because they believed going to bed with wet hair would cause them to become ill.

Outside the courtroom, he added that the couple wanted a jury of their peers, but only three of the jurors were of Asian descent.

“It would have been different maybe,” Kendall said.

The mother spoke to the court for about five minutes, through a Cantonese translator, after Tysoe asked if she had anything to say before her sentencing.

During her often incoherent and histrionic statement, she challenged the veracity of the Crown’s case and questioned Canadian laws.

“Why is there a law in Canada as to how one should contact a child?” she said.

The father later told the court: “I have a clear conscience and, as far as my thinking is concerned, I treated my children well.”

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