Jehovah's Witness Elder Gets Three Years [Sentence]
Judge hears lawyers' sentencing arguments in sexual assault case
Source of Article: Betty Ann Adam, The StarPhoenix
Published: Wednesday, November 07, 2007
A 14-year-old girl was on a weekend pass from a psychiatric ward the first time Wendell Willick had sexual intercourse with her, a Queen's Bench judge heard Tuesday.
Willick, 47, a former elder of the Jehovah's Witnesses Lakeview Church, pleaded guilty in September to a charge of sexual exploitation for touching the teenager with his hands and penis. The incidents took place between January 1996 and November 1999.
He was originally also charged with sexual assault, but was discharged on that count after a preliminary hearing in which the judge heard evidence the sexual relationship was consensual, said defence lawyer Daryl Labach.
Justice Marty Popescul will hand down a sentence on the sexual exploitation charge on Friday.
The girl's family had moved to Saskatoon a year before the incidents began, and had met Willick and his family through the Jehovah's Witness congregation. The two families became good friends.
The girl was in the midst of a troubled adolescence, having once run away from home for three days, and she had repeatedly cut herself, said Crown prosecutor Sandeep Bains.
Willick sometimes tutored the girl in school work and was counselling her at the behest of her mother and stepfather. The girl often babysat Willick's children and had gone on a summer vacation with them, Bains said.
The girl's parents and Willick were the only visitors she was allowed to have during the seven weeks in early 1996 that she spent in the Hantelman Centre, which is the psychiatric ward of Royal University Hospital. The girl was sometimes sedated while there and was under psychiatric and medical care, Bains said.
The parents were out of town when the girl was given a weekend pass to visit the Willick home. The Willick children were asleep while the victim watched a movie with Willick and his wife.
After his wife went to bed, Willick gave the girl a beer. He then kissed, fondled and undressed her and had intercourse with her, Bains said.
The victim, now 25, recalled during the preliminary hearing the advance began without warning and she didn't know what was going on, Bains said.
Afterward, Willick expressed remorse for the sake of his family. When the girl returned to the hospital, she didn't tell anyone there, or her parents, what had occurred, partly out of concern for Willick's family, Bains said.
Bains outlined nine more occasions of intercourse over the next four years. Labach said there were additional incidents of kissing, fondling and oral sex.
By the time the girl was 17, she was employed by Willick's computer software company, Point 2 Technologies, but worked out of her home, Labach said. She sometimes called him at work and when he had spare time, sexual activity took place, Labach said.
Labach said the fact that there was never any violence and that the girl was a willing participant in the sexual activity were mitigating factors. Willick has no other criminal record.
The sexual contact ceased in 1999 when the girl was 17.
The girl's trust and spiritual beliefs were shattered, she said in a victim impact statement read into the court record.