The now-separated wife of a man accused of sexually assaulting two of his stepdaughters described a whirlwind courtship Wednesday that began when they met during a church youth-group function at her home.
That occurred in summer 1999 and by mid-December he had proposed to her, just two weeks after he first asked her out for coffee. She accepted, the court was told during cross-examination, but then changed her mind.
"I felt I had made my decision too quickly," said the woman, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban against any information that may identify the victims.
But he convinced her to change her mind and accept the proposal
"He assured me that God had told him that I was to be his wife and that he had a love for me that he couldn't explain," she said.
It just so happened she had bought a dog from the man, who also cannot be named, about one-and-a-half years before, and had cleaned his house one time in spring 1999. She said she saw him in her church twice before they met at the church function.
By March 1999, he and two of his three sons had moved into her home, where six of her own children were living, including the two girls he allegedly sexually assaulted for several years beginning when they were 12 years old. They were nine and seven years old when he moved in.
The couple's relationship did not go over well with her church who asked her to step down from her leadership roles because they were living in a common law relationship, she told the court. By November 2000 they were married but had stopped going to a formal church. In earlier testimony, the woman said it was because they finally decided they could "access God" through her husband.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Tony Zipp suggested that was overstated. The woman agreed when Zipp said the man never said he was a prophet but she disagreed with Zipp's assertion that his demand that misbehaving children pray "until they were right with God," was just a variation on a time out.
Of the three security cameras installed in their home, connected to a monitor in the master bedroom, she agreed that the first was to keep an eye on a "troubled" social agency client who was staying at the home for a period of time.
Making note of photos of the home, Zipp also suggested to her that, contrary to her testimony, there was no lock on the upstairs fridge only on a freezer and a small fridge in the garage where the children stored their treats, such as ice cream products they had purchased.
She agreed that she never saw anything inappropriate, such as an erection, when either of the two girls sat on his lap, nor when she saw him leave one of the girls' bedrooms one night wearing only boxer shorts, and never saw child pornography on the computers in the home.
She also agreed that the youngest of the two alleged victims would binge eat and slash herself with a razor, but upon further questioning from Crown prosecutor Cassandra Malfair, said that began only after the stepfather had moved into the home. She also agreed that she never saw bruising on her daughter despite the girl's story that the man would beat her if she refused to have sex with him and never saw him attack her.
Much of the cross-examination centred on the couple's sex life, in which sex toys appeared to play a prominent role, although she denied assertions they were used as extensively as Zipp's client was suggesting though his lawyer.
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 other 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.