Former Similkameen sex offender jailed for 4 years in historical sex assault case

Jailed for 1970s sex crimes

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A sex offender with previous victims in the Similkameen has been sentenced to four years in prison in a historical sex assault case dating back to the 1970s.

Roy O'Donaghey, 67, was sentenced last month after being found guilty at trial of “indecently assaulting another male person” — the Criminal Code provision at the time of the sex assaults that occurred between 1974 and 1977.

O'Donaghey, who was in his early 20s, sexually assaulted the young boy regularly over the span of three years in a small community in the Fraser Canyon. The abuse escalated over time from touching to oral and anal penetration. Castanet News is not naming the small community to protect the identity of the victim.

The victim has since lived a life marked with alcohol and drug abuse, mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide.

Prior to being charged for the historical offence, O'Donaghey had already racked up multiple convictions for sex offences involving minors, including six counts of gross indecency in 1981 and a count of indecent exposure to a person under 14 in 1992.

In 2014, he was sentenced in Penticton court to nine months in jail and three years of probation for two counts of indecent exposure to a person under 16 for an incident that occurred in Keremeos in 2011.

Crown prosecutors argued for an eight to 10 year sentence for the historical offences, while the defence suggested O'Donaghey’s risk of reoffending has been reduced by time.

O'Donaghey is an Indigenous man who was caught up in the “sixties scoop” and was removed from his birth mother at two weeks old and placed in the care of a non-Indigenous woman who raised him for 16 years.

At the age of 10, O'Donaghey was sexually abused himself by two older boys, acts he would repeat on his victim more than a decade later. O'Donaghey did not learn he was Indigenous until the 1980s, court documents say.

“We need to protect our children. History has not been kind to Indigenous people who were taken from their community when they were young and learned all kinds of unhealthy behaviours, acted out and charged with such offences and they either are incarcerated and/or are shunned by communities with no support,” the Chief of O'Donaghey’s First Nation told the author of a Gladue report on the offender.

Gladue reports are ordered for Indigenous offenders to help the courts understand, prior to sentencing, the unique issues an Indigenous person can have in their background.

O'Donaghey has been with his wife for nearly three decades. She, like her husband, believes all his convictions are the result of false accusations.

Judge Stephen Harrison eventually settled on a four year sentence, ruling that it struck a balance between the “profound wrongfulness and harmfulness” of the sex assaults and the “circumstances of the offender and the need for treatment and rehabilitation where possible.”

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