Abbotsford man sentenced to 18 months for sexual offenses

Change in age of consent law a factor in case of Abbotsford man who pleaded guilty to sex with an underage girl

Andrew Theodore Dennis

Andrew Theodore Dennis

Five months before Abbotsford resident Andrew Theodore Dennis and a teenage girl had sex, the Canadian parliament raised the age of consent from 14 to 16, making their encounter illegal.

On Wednesday, Abbotsford Provincial Court judge Jay Solomon sentenced Dennis to a conditional sentence of 18 months, nine months of it under house arrest with a dawn-to-dusk curfew.

Judge Solomon also ordered Dennis to be on probation for two years after serving his sentence.

The now-34-year-old Dennis had earlier pleaded guilty to two sex-related charges, one of sexual assault for having sex with the 14-year-old in September of 2008 .

Earlier that same year, in May, the Conservative government passed its Tackling Violent Crime Act , which raised the legal age of sexual consent in Canada to 16 from 14.

The judge referred to the change in law as an “unusual circumstance” of the case.

The other charge Dennis pleaded guilty to was communicating via computer to lure a child, which related to his internet conversations with the teenager.

Crown counsel Sylvia Domaradzki said when the teen’s family complained about the relationship in 2007, the initial police investigation did not result in any charges.

When the girl came forward in 2013, the investigation was revived and charges were laid.

The girl, whose identity is protected by a court-ordered ban on publication, chose not testify at the sentencing hearing and didn’t provide a victim impact statement.

Dennis has been free on bail without any breaches for more than two years since he was charged, under restrictions that included a ban on any kind of internet access.

Defense lawyer Peter McDermick said his client, who had no prior criminal convictions, has “limited cognitive functioning” but understands that what he did was not acceptable.

“I’m just very, very sorry it happened,” Dennis told the court when he was invited to make a statement.

“I just want to live my life and be good and behave.”

A pre-sentence psychiatric assessment rated Dennis a “moderate risk” to re-offend.

Under the terms of his conditional sentence, Dennis will be allowed to have a computer with internet access, so long as it has a filter for pornography and he keeps a record of his browsing history available for examination by his parole officer or police.

He is not allowed to have any contact with the former teenager, nor is he allowed to have any contact with people under the age of 18 on social media.

He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample to police.

Four other sex-related charges against Dennis were stayed by the Crown at the sentencing hearing.