A Crown attorney has asked a judge to impose five years in prison for a former group home worker who sexually assaulted boys in care.
One of those victims — now an adult — was present in court as sentencing of his former abuser began.
Proceedings were interrupted when the victim had a grand mal seizure — the result of trauma from the abuse he suffered as a youth, and apparently the stress of the court proceedings.
"What you observed this morning occur, sort of the visceral reaction to being in the same room again with the perpetrator, spoke more words than I could possibly ever express," Crown attorney Yaso Mathu told Judge Donovan Dvorak after the man recovered and sentencing resumed in Brandon provincial court on Thursday.
Lionel Norman McCullough, 50, pleaded guilty in December to three counts of sexual assault for offences committed against three victims between September 1984 and August 1988.
At the time, McCullough worked at a Child and Family Services-run group home that housed several children at a time.
The victims had been placed at the home and were 13, 10 and nine to 10 years old. Each boy was sexually assaulted multiple times.
The crimes came to light in May 2012, when one of the victims reported the assaults.
Brandon police then obtained CFS records and searched for children who may have had contact with McCullough. They contacted as many people as possible to try to find potential victims and found two more.
McCullough had lost his job in August 1988 when he was charged with sexual assaults on other residents from the home. As a result, in April 1989, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail and three years probation for three counts of sexual assault.
In December 1991, he was also convicted of another sexual assault on a charge that originated in the Carberry area.
Police tracked McCullough to Vancouver where he held a long-term job as manager of a department store. He was arrested in January 2013.
The victims — who can’t be identified — are now men, and two of them were present in court on Thursday.
Mathu read a statement on behalf of one of them — the man who made the initial report to police — and described his struggles following the abuse, which included drug addiction and thoughts of suicide and violence.
In addition, Mathu said, the man has had a long history of seizures which are the symptom of post traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the abuse.
Minutes after Mathu told the judge of the condition, the man had a seizure in court. Paramedics were called, but the man recovered and seemed to be OK. After a break, he was able to listen from another courtroom via a court computer system as proceedings continued.
The second victim also described how the abuse affected his life — he became an alcoholic, and had difficulty trusting people in authority which led to problems holding a job and trouble with the law.
His own family didn’t believe him when he told them what had happened.
Now, all he wanted was to hear an apology from McCullough.
"I will accept his apology but will never forget, ever," he said.
McCullough did apologize to the victims.
"I’m truly sorry. It’s not your fault, you’re not to blame, you are not responsible. I am," he said.
Bob Harrison said his client, who has stayed out of trouble for nearly 23 years, is remorseful. During the summer, McCullough had a nervous breakdown and sank into depression.
McCullough pleaded guilty even though he can’t clearly remember the offences due to electroshock therapy, Harrison said.
Based on sentences from similar cases, Harrison said he didn’t oppose the Crown’s suggestion for a five-year sentence.
In total, McCullough has spent 183 days in pre-sentence custody, which Harrison asked to be credited toward his sentence.
Dvorak delayed imposing a sentence so he could give the case more thought, and set a date to deliver it in mid-March.
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