A Prince George man accused of sexually assaulting his two stepdaughters, one for as long as a decade, effectively took over the family when he moved into the home, the girls' mother testified Monday during a B.C. Supreme Court trial at the courthouse.
Prior to meeting the man, she was a single mother of six children following a divorce but, despite the usual sibling conflicts, thought things were fine.
"We just had a lot of fun, we were close, we did outings, we had people over all the time, we were involved in all kinds of church groups and we just really enjoyed being together, we just liked being together," she told the court. "Lots of laughing. I felt like I was the best mother in the world and I had the greatest kids."
None of the family members can be named under a court-ordered publication ban against information that would identify the victims.
She met the man through a church group but after he and his three sons moved into her home in early 2000, they were "uninvited" from the church group for living in a common law relationship and, within three or four months, they moved from having many close friends to "no more friends."
After a brief attempt to join a home-based church group, she decided to "access God" through the man.
"I already had this idea that he was this prophetic, Godly man that knew the voice of God and spoke to people's lives and was like a conduit," she said. "Just because we didn't go to church didn't mean that we didn't have access to God."
He could tell if someone had a guilty conscience and was not right with God, she testified and would often tell the children to go pray and not come out until they had an answer from God. He would accuse them of "manifesting the spirit of Jezebel" by withholding information and undermining his leadership.
The woman began taking courses at the local college and university and spent much of her time studying when she wasn't working night shift.
He accused her of not being there enough and she sensed her relationship with the children deteriorate. They would always turn to their stepfather to get permission and sort out problems.
"I was just a person that lived there," she said.
He ran a strict household, the woman testified, forbidding the children from staying overnight anywhere away from home; putting locks on the fridges and forbidding the children from eating after dinner without his permission; and would admonish them if they did not give eye contact or did not pray to his level of satisfaction.
One of the punishments would be to clean a portion of the house to an impossible standard, she said. Some moved out or were expelled from the home for not adhering to his rules, including two of the woman's four girls. When one of the girls got a boyfriend at age 16, he had her belongings packed up in garbage bags and left them outside the front door when she returned from work.
Those who remained were forbidden from contacting those who left for fear they would be "polluted," the mother testified.
Of the two who remained in the home, one was decidedly a favourite while the other could not seem to do anything right in his eyes. The mother also noted odd behaviour such as the girls sitting on his lap whenever he was sitting down.
"He told me they just like to sit on his lap," she said. "Because they had an absent dad, it would just make sense that they would want to have that affection of a father figure."
There was also extensive public kissing and hand holding and as they got older, it "just seemed weird."
One night, when she returned home unexpectedly, she found the door to the master bedroom locked and had to knock repeatedly before he opened it. She also once saw him leave one of the girl's bedrooms late one night in his boxer shorts and, when confronted, he told her he was worried the room was cold and wanted to make sure the girl was properly covered.
When they turned 14, the girls began taking birth control. They agreed it was a good idea to alleviate the emotional cycles they experienced, the woman told the court.
He eventually installed a security system that allow him to see from the master bedroom who was on the driveway at night, who was entering the home and who was coming up the stairs.
When the girls were given cellphones, he would constantly phone to check on where they were, the mother testified. The girls were "hyperparanoid" about the mother touching the phones.
"They became very dependent," she testified. "It was said almost like a joke on me, that if he ever left the girls would go with him, that they loved him more than they loved me and I would lose them," she said.
In the mornings the girls always seemed tired and never seemed to get enough sleep, she testified.
The man is facing 10 counts of sexual assault and sexual interference regarding the girls, now adults, allegedly beginning with fondling when they were about age 12, and escalating to oral sex and intercourse by age 14 and continuing for a further 10 years in one girl's case.
Two others charges relate to making or publishing child pornography and possession of child pornography. A final two counts relate to bestiality.
The trial continues today.