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Jehovah's Witness Elder Gets Three Years [Sentence]

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:51 pm
by Mary
Pen time likely for (JW) Willick

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.


Jehovah's Witness Elder Gets Three Years [Sentence]

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:13 pm
by Mary
Jehovah's Witness elder gets three years for sexual exploitation

Source of Article: Betty Ann Adam , CanWest News Service

Published: Friday, November 09, 2007

SASKATOON -- A former Jehovah's Witness church elder has been sentenced to three years in prison for the sexual exploitation of a troubled teenage girl with whom he carried on a four-year relationship.

"Our courts must send a clear message to every person in authority over a child that sexual contact with them will not be tolerated and will result in lengthy periods of imprisonment," Justice Marty Popescul said Friday at the Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench.

Wendell Willick, 47, was counselling the girl at the behest of her parents - who were friends of Willick through their church - during the period of the abuse, which began in 1996, when the girl was 14.

The court heard during a sentencing hearing that Willick first had sexual intercourse with the girl when she was visiting his home on a weekend pass from a hospital psychiatric ward.

The victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, was in the midst of a troubled adolescence. She had once run away from home and had repeatedly cut herself.

Willick pleaded guilty in September to a charge of sexual exploitation.

The judge did not accept defence lawyer Daryl Labach's submission that the girl's apparent consent lessened the severity of the crime.

"As a society we have absolutely rejected the notion that children can properly consent to participation in sexual activity with adults or those who are in a position of trust or authority to them," Popescul said.

"An offence such as this does not require the use of threats or violence because of the power imbalance involved."

Willick's wife and adult children sat silently in the front row or the courtroom. The victim, who lives out of province, was not present. Her mother and stepfather sat in a back row. They declined to comment on the sentence.

The girl's trust and spiritual beliefs were shattered, she said in a victim impact statement that was read during the sentencing hearing.

"It made me feel like a person of no value with no voice. . . . Parts of myself are missing," she wrote.

Willick voluntarily gave up his role as an elder in the church several years ago, in part because of the allegations, and left the church entirely in 2004, the defence lawyer has said. He also has said Willick was not acting in his capacity as a church elder when the offences occurred.

Willick will be listed on the national sex offender registry for 10 years after he is released and must provide a DNA sample for the national data bank.