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Vancouver court approves support dog for child sex abuse case

Young victim wants emotional assistance dog to help her in court as she testifies.
vancouver provincial court criminal
Vancouver Provincial Court.

A young girl will be allowed an emotional assistance dog in court when she testifies against a man alleged to have sexually assaulted her in Surrey and Burnaby.

Crown prosecutor Jeff LaPorte made the application for the dog to be in court before Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Kathryn Denhoff Sept. 15.

“I’m happy to grant that order now,” the judge said.

A man Glacier Media has chosen not to identify as he was a friend of the victim, is charged with 10 counts in connection with the alleged events.

Publication bans prohibit any information that could identify or tend to identify a sexual offence victim or a minor.

The man is charged with two counts that, on Sept. 3, 2022 in Surrey, he invited a person under 16 to touch him for a sexual purpose.

He is charged with sexual touching in connection with an event between April 1 and May 31 in Burnaby. He is charged with the same offence relating to a Nov. 11, 2021 Burnaby event. He is also charged with invitation for sexual touching in Burnaby for that day.

Further, in connection with Nov. 21, 2021 and Feb. 13, 2022 events, he is charged with sexual touching.

He is also charged with, between Dec. 1, 2019 and March 3, 2022, using telecommunications to communicate with a person he believes is under 16 for sexual touching. And, he is charged with transmitting, making available, distributing or selling sexually explicit material to a person he believed was under 16.

The man also faces a further charge that, in Burnaby between April 8 and April 19, he accessed the internet in breach of a court order.

LaPorte told Denhoff the alleged victim has said the dog’s presence would help calm her during testimony and that the animal is certified as an emotional support dog.

“The court can be confident that it is not just a pet or house dog,” LaPorte said. “It is specially trained for situations like this.”

The trial is expected to last 10 days. A pre-trial conference is set for Sept. 23.