A Port Alberni couple and their friend, charged with assault for allegedly tackling and hog-tying a man accused of being a sexual predator, were met by dozens of supporters as they appeared in court Friday.
The trio carried out the amateur sting operation in April 2018 after allegedly learning that a 28-year-old man was intending to have sex with the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, which the mother said police failed to investigate.
After getting the man to their home, the couple and the friend allegedly pinned him to the floor, strung his hands and feet behind his back, and streamed the event live on Facebook while they waited for police, only to be arrested instead.
The trio, whose names can’t be released due to a publication ban intended to protect the identity of the daughter, was charged with assault causing bodily harm and unlawful confinement or imprisonment in October.
On Friday, the 33-year-old mother was handed a six-month conditional discharge, while her 38-year-old partner and the 36-year-old family friend were both given a conditional discharge with one year of probation. All three pleaded guilty to common assault.
The trio was given conditions for the discharges. None of them will see the incident appear on a criminal record as long as the conditions are followed.
Outside the courthouse, supporters of the trio held signs accusing the RCMP and Crown prosecutors of “failing children” while calling for tougher measures against alleged sexual predators.
“I’m outraged at the failure of the RCMP to act on the complaint from these parents,” Sam Brownlee said. “If the police won’t protect our children, someone has to.”
Another supporter put it more bluntly.
At the time of the incident in April, the young child’s mother said she had spent six weeks trying to get police to intervene after finding evidence that her daughter had been sent naked pictures and illicit messages.
In a statement to Global News, the RCMP said that it had already been investigating the alleged child luring and would continue to do so.
“An investigation was immediately launched upon receiving the information from the complainant in March and that the investigation was active and ongoing at the time of this incident,” said Cpl. Amelia Hayden.
“The RCMP was working diligently to advance the investigation and asked for patience to allow the investigative process to proceed. The victim and her family were provided with specific measures to ensure her safety while the investigation was ongoing.”
When asked if she regretted taking matters into her own hands, the mother said she was just trying to protect her daughter.
“I don’t think I could’ve done anything else differently, only the police could’ve done something differently.”
—With files from Kristen Robinson, Jon Azpiri and John Hua