The mother of two girls their stepfather is accused of sexually assaulting for several years described Tuesday the events that led up to her worst fears being confirmed during a trial at the Prince George courthouse.
The woman, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban on information that will identify the alleged victims, said that after her return from studying abroad for several months in August 2010, there were differences in the relationship between the stepfather and the oldest of the two girls.
She also noticed that the stepfather insisted on holding hands with the daughter, 21 years old at that point, despite her reluctance.
"He never held my hand, I walked behind them," the mother testified. "I thought that was weird."
Further, he told the mother that their marriage had changed and they were "basically friends without benefits," the woman told the court.
In earlier testimony, the mother testified that upon her return to Prince George, the girl said she wanted to move out, which prompted an emotional outburst from the man, who begged her to stay.
"He just cried and was depressed and was like he was losing his best friend," she said.
The next watershed moment occurred on an evening in October 2010 when the stepfather was out of town on training but was communicating with the mother and the girl via Skype on a computer in their home's master bedroom.
An "odd conversation" between the stepfather and the girl broke out in which he reprimanded the girl for wanting to abandon him.
"He said he was like this lost lifesaver in the middle of the ocean and she doesn't care," she said. "It was just so weird."
When the conversation ended, the girl, who had just gotten off work, went to her bedroom while the mother went to have a bath. When the mother returned to the master bedroom, the Skype on the stepfather's computer repeatedly sounded that a message was coming in. Thinking it was for one of their stepsons, she decided to send a message back to the stepfather to say he was not home.
That was when she saw a written conversation of a sexual nature between the father and the daughter. She immediately ran to the daughter's bedroom and banged on her locked door until it was finally opened.
"I just kept banging on it, I was going to break it down," the mother told the court.
She found the girl naked from the waist down and pulling down her T-shirt.
With the mother screaming and distraught, the girl immediately left the home and found a place to stay at a friend's after saying her parents were having marital trouble and she didn't want to be there, the court was told.
When the man returned to Prince George a few days later, the mother picked him up at the airport. Because the girl was of age and it appeared to be consensual, the mother decided not to call the police.
Then, in mid November 2010, on the day of their wedding anniversary, she told him they would not be staying married. Two days later, he left a suicide note on a computer desktop and overdosed on an anti-anxiety drug that made him nauseous enough to put him in the hospital.
The mother moved out that day and went to live with the girl into a basement suite she had eventually acquired. But on strong advice from legal counsel, she convinced the man to move out of the home and by mid December 2010 she moved back in. She found most of the computer towers that had been accumulated over the years were either dismantled or taken away.
Five days later, the youngest of the two, who had been away at university, moved back into the home and the mother was preparing herself to tell her what was going on. But the girl cut her short, the court heard, to say the stepfather had been touching the two since they were 12 and were having intercourse by age 14.
"When she tried to say no, he would beat her," the woman testified. "There was a two-by-four in her bedroom that was there all the time and she said that he would beat her with it and that sometimes when she would sit at the dinner table, she could hardly sit because she was so sore."
He also forced the girls to watch pornography and to have sex with each other, the woman testified. A search of the older girl's bedroom uncovered sex toys and pornographic stories on her computer.
She texted the stepfather to say she knew what he did to the girls and he responded that that's why he wanted to kill himself, the court was told. The older girl then confirmed the younger one's story.
"I believed them 100 per cent and yet I couldn't believe what I was hearing," the woman sobbed while on the stand. "Things started to make sense."
The next morning the police were contacted.
The man is facing 14 counts in B.C. Supreme Court, 10 of which deal with sexual assault and sexual interference regarding two of his stepdaughters. Two others charges relate to making or publishing child pornography and possession of child pornography. The final two counts relate to bestiality.
The stepdaughters are expected to testify that the man began abusing them around the age of 12. The eldest victim is expected to say the abuse went on for 10 years, while the younger victim was able to stop the abuse after she turned 18 and moved out of the house.
The trial continues today.