An Abbotsford man who once led Bible programs, was involved in pastoral care programs, worked as a child and youth counsellor, and was a foster parent has been sentenced for sexually touching two young girls.
Bradley Roland Smith, 55, was sentenced Friday in Abbotsford provincial court to a 90-day jail term – to be served on weekends – for offences that occurred between 2006 and 2008 when he was babysitting the children of close family friends.
Smith was initially charged with eight offences last year but pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual interference. The other six charges were stayed during Smith’s sentencing hearing.
The court heard that Smith had touched the girls on their buttocks, outside of their clothing. One of the victims was touched 10 times at the ages of six and seven, while the other child was touched once when she was around the same age.
Judge Kenneth Skilnick commended the victims for their courage in coming forward – which they did in 2014 – and in cooperating with the prosecution.
“It just evokes a tremendous sense of sadness that a person in a position of trust, as Mr. Smith was, could harm children in this nature,” he said.
Skilnick said victim impact statements, which were not read aloud in court, indicate that the two young women are still suffering the effects of the offences. Both have difficulty trusting others and forming bonds.
Crown lawyer Dorothy Tsui said Smith was a “trusted figure in the community” prior to the charges being laid.
Defence lawyer Richard Ballantyne said Smith has “devoted his life to the community.”
He has a master’s degree in divinity; ran a Bible school in Michigan; worked with troubled youth and was involved in pastoral care programs at the Surrey Community Resource Society in the 1990s and early 2000s; worked with Abbotsford Community Services in 2001-02; and volunteered with his church and with the Abbotsford chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
He and his wife also took in several foster kids over the years and adopted three children, now ages 8, 14 and 15. The foster children have since been removed, and Smith does not currently live at the family home, the court heard.
Ballantyne said Smith faced some personal and financial struggles, which led to him drinking alcohol more frequently and in secret, and in accessing pornography on a regular basis.
It was during this period that the sexual offences occurred against the two girls.
Ballantyne said the touching was “under the guise of play” and “it never went further than that.”
He said the scale of the offences is “on the low end,” and Smith has since taken counselling and will be taking more.
“I don’t think there’s any basis to find any risk here,” Ballantyne said of Smith’s potential for committing further sexual crimes.
Both lawyers filed a joint submission, recommending a jail term of 90 days. The judge agreed that Smith could serve his time on weekends so he can continue to work at his greenhouse job and support his family.
Smith’s prison term will be followed by two years of probation.