Sexual exploitation is a very serious criminal offence against young persons. Similar to other sexual offences in Canada, it is fraught with long prison sentences as well as staying on file with the Ontario and federal sex offender registry.
Unlike some other categories of offenders, those found guilty of sexual exploitation are not eligible for a record suspension in Canada. It creates irreparable social stigma and can ruin anyone’s life, undermining opportunities for employment, finding a residence, volunteering activities and socializing.
Given the seriousness of the consequences, anyone facing charges of sexual exploitation should consult with an experienced sexual assault lawyer immediately. Here is more on what sexual exploitation is, how it is defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, and what are the available defence strategies.
What Is Sexual Exploitation?
Sexual exploitation is a sexual offence against young persons involving sexual touching. It is penalized by Section 153 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which presumes heavy prison sentences combined with additional mandatory minimum sentences no matter the individual circumstances of the offence.
According to Section 153 (1), sexual exploitation happens when an adult person, who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in an exploitation relationship with a young person, and who:
- touches directly or indirectly any part of the body of the young person for a sexual purpose, or
- invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch anyone else for a sexual purpose.
Sexual Exploitation in the Criminal Code
Within the context of Section 153 (1), a young person is anyone over sixteen years of age but under eighteen years. Meanwhile, the scope of people who may be deemed in the position of trust and authority towards a young person, and be potentially charged with sexual exploitation in Canada, is very broad.
The Criminal Code provides for extensive interpretation of listed conditions for an adult who can be charged with sexual exploitation. Thus, the judge may conclude that a defendant is in an exploitative relationship with a young person based on the nature and circumstances such as:
- the age of the alleged victim;
- the age difference between the accused and the victim;
- the evolution of the relationship;
- the degree of control or influence of the accused over the young person.
As a result, the list of those who can be potentially involved in sexual exploitation allegations is virtually endless. It doesn’t include only parents, step-parents, teachers, coaches, doctors and others who can be naturally considered as being in the position of trust or authority towards youngsters. For example, an adult who meets a young person over the Internet can be charged with sexual exploitation.
What Is Included in Sexual Exploitation?
When the Crown accuses someone of committing sexual exploitation, they must prove that the accused was in the position of trust or authority, for example, by having an obligation of responsibility or a duty of care. The Crown must also prove that the accused was exploiting the young person by using the position of trust for sexual purposes.
In doing so, the prosecution also needs to prove that an accused was involved in sexual touching with the young person. Meanwhile, touching doesn’t require force and can involve direct contact by hand or another part of the body or indirect contact with any object.
For the purposes of sexual exploitation charges, touching must be intentional as opposed to accidental. The sexual purpose can include sexual gratification of any sort or demeaning a young person in a sexual way to degrade them or assert superiority.
What Are the Sentences for Sexual Exploitation?
The consequences of being found guilty of sexual exploitation in Canada are grave and include lengthy prison sentences. Meanwhile, the perspectives on the outcome of the trial differ greatly depending on whether the Crown proceeds by summary conviction or by the way of indictment.
If the Crown chooses to proceed summarily, the accused faces a maximum prison sentence of two years and a minimum mandatory sentence of 90 days. When the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum penalty is 14 years of imprisonment with a minimum mandatory sentence for a term of one year.
Meanwhile, the consequences of being found guilty of sexual exploitation do not end with incarceration. The details of the offenders will be on file in the Ontario Sex Offender Registry (OSOR) and federal Sex Offender Registry (SOIRA) for at least ten years. In addition, the sexual exploitation offenders will have a criminal record with the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) accessible by employers, landlords and other persons without a chance of obtaining a Canadian pardon or having the record expunged.
In light of the severity of the consequences, sexual exploitation charges always call for a strong defence. Simply saying that the accused believed that the complainant was over eighteen years of age is not a defence unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s age.
While today most people in Canada find sexual partners online, any adult who meets a young person over the Internet faces the risk of being subjected to sexual exploitation charges. Building a strong defence often takes complex technological strategies to raise a doubt. An effective defence strategy has to unveil inconsistencies and improbabilities in the complainant’s version and present the defendant’s version in the best possible way.
Sexual exploitation charges present severe consequences for any adult in a position of trust towards a young person found guilty of sexual touching or inviting a young person to touch anyone for a sexual purpose. The punishment can include long imprisonment, being on record in sexual offender databases and an unpardoned criminal record for life.
Those facing charges of sexual exploitation or child pornography in Ontario are advised to consult with legal counsel from Vilkhov Law as early as possible. Our experienced lawyers for sexual assault cases will immediately start working on your release, access all evidence against you and raise a reasonable doubt against the charges.