Man convicted in Ontario court of sexually assaulting daughter for close to a decade

A man who argued in an Ontario court that he was simply being a “touchy feely” father when he regularly pinned his daughter under him – face down – and ground his genitals on her over roughly a decade has been convicted of sexual assault.

Court documents show the man, whose name cannot be released in order to protect the identity of his daughter, was arrested in 2014 after the then-teenage girl told a teacher she was being sexually abused.

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During trial, the young woman, who is now 18 years old, told the court the incidents began when she was six and usually took place every few weeks while her mother and siblings were away.

She testified both she and her father were fully clothed when it happened, and that she would squirm and tell him to get off her.

READ MORE: Ontario chief justice looking at increased sexual assault education for judges

Though the abuse briefly stopped after a complaint to child welfare authorities that was later withdrawn, the young woman testified it escalated to the point where her father once touched her genitals while she was sleeping.

She said she reported the abuse to her school around age 15 after an incident in which her father barged into a locked bathroom while she was showering.

The accused “sought to portray himself as an affectionate fun-loving, ‘touchy feely’ father who in retrospect may have not been sufficiently considerate of his teenage daughter’s sensitivities and privacy concerns, but was nonetheless well intentioned,” Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland wrote in his decision.

“In fact, however, the grinding incidents that he would portray as playfulness were escalating and becoming more problematic to the complainant as she matured and this resulted in the (Children’s Aid Society) involvement,” Hackland said.

“His view that there was no genuine problem to address at that point was bizarre and self-serving.”

According to court documents, the young woman testified she never told her mother about the abuse for fear of what would happen to their family, which did in fact fall apart after she came forward.

She told the court she confided in a friend during a game of truth or dare when in her early teens, and that friend told a parent, who alerted the Children’s Aid Society.

But the young woman said she was interviewed by a caseworker within earshot of her parents and retracted the allegations.

Her father testified that he never addressed the issue with her even after the caseworker’s visit.

The judge said he found it difficult to understand the accused’s “complete non-engagement” with his daughter. “This was the behaviour of someone unwilling to face a serious problem within his family – a problem he knew was his sexual abuse of his daughter,” he wrote.

The man was initially facing charges of sexual touching and voyeurism as well but the sexual touching counts were conditionally stayed since he has been convicted of the more serious charge of sexual assault.

He was cleared on the voyeurism charge in connection with the shower incident because the judge said the man had not behaved surreptitiously, which is a defining element of the offence.

Alberta study delves into why flightless dinosaur had feathers

The discovery of a new species of bird-like dinosaur is raising questions about the creature’s evolution and why it had feathers when it couldn’t actually fly.

Researchers studying a fossil found in China have determined that Jianianhualong tengi had large feathers associated with aerodynamics, but there’s no evidence that it could get off the ground.

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Related

  • Workers in China accidentally discover new dinosaur fossil

  • 3.7-billion-year-old fossils found in Greenland show signs of life

  • Archaeologists are preserving a 14,000-year-old mammoth found in Mexico

    READ MORE: Feathered dinosaurs may have ‘flocked’ together like modern birds: University of Alberta study

    Philip Currie, a University of Alberta paleobiologist, said the species is a missing link between birds and dinosaurs.

    “Every time you find a missing link between two animals, you create two new missing links,” Currie said. “We’re looking for the answer as to why there’s a combination of primitive and advanced features.”

    READ MORE: Scientists may have found the world’s largest dinosaur footprint

    The findings of the international research team were published Tuesday in the open-access journal Nature Communications.

    An artist’s rendering of the species suggests the metre-long dinosaur resembled a large pheasant with short wings.

    The scientists say Jianianhualong tengi lived during the Early Cretaceous period, roughly 125 million years ago, in an area of northeastern China famous for its feathered dinosaurs.

    READ MORE: New theory from Alberta researchers for why some dinosaurs stood on 2 feet

    Currie said the fossil demonstrates mosaic evolution in which parts of an animal’s skeleton changes without simultaneously affecting other parts.

    He said more research is needed to better understand why the dinosaur would have had feathers if they weren’t used for flight.

    “The only way to answer these questions is to find more animals to fill in the gaps.”

    Currie estimates that only one per cent of all the world’s dinosaurs have been identified to date.

Alberta group reveals menacing sounds of Islamophobia with audio recordings

After launching its Islamophobia reporting hotline more than a year ago, the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) has found itself fielding both legitimate and disturbingly derogatory calls.

The hotline opened in late March 2016 and since that time, has received around 400 calls. At least 15 of them were Islamophobic taunts.

READ MORE: Alberta group launches toll-free Islamophobia hotline

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“I think there is a perception amongst some members of the population that Islamophobia is a myth, it’s concocted, it’s a created fantasy,” said Aurangzeb Qureshi, AMPAC’s vice-president of communications.

“We wanted to show that this is real.”

Four audio recordings were released to Global News. AMPAC says they are actual unedited messages left on its hotline.

“I’m not going to change my ways just ’cause you guys want us to, and this traitor government,” begins one recording. “You better think again. You started something that you have no idea what’s comin’.’”

Another message: “Yeah, take a message to Trudeau. Islam doesn’t belong on this continent.”

READ MORE: ‘Mosque’ spray-painted on Jasper outhouses ‘not very Canadian’: Parks Canada

Some calls are both Islamophobic and homophobic in nature.

One audio recording was so laden with profanity, if censored, it would be unclear, with very few words remaining.

“It’s obviously very cryptic and very scary,” Qureshi said.

“I mean, you’re hearing these people’s voices on the phone. And especially people who are talking about being locked and loaded — involving guns and shooting people — wanting you dead for no reason other than you follow a specific religion.”

READ MORE: Islamophobia hotline in Alberta sees ‘significant jump’ in calls 

On average, the hotline used to receive one call a day. Qureshi said that number rose to three or four calls a day after the U.S. election.

READ MORE: Hundreds converge on Alberta legislature grounds for Quebec mosque shooting vigil

In the meantime, AMPAC is scheduled to hold a fundraising event featuring author, lawyer and commentator Arsalan Iftikhar on May 6. Iftikhar has been widely acclaimed for his book Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms.

Global News Morning anchor Shaye Ganam will be emceeing the event.

Specialized bicycles give Winnipeg seniors a chance to explore

WINNIPEG —; The spring weather has many Winnipeggers getting their bikes out for the season, and one local group is hoping to give that feeling to people at any age.

Cycling Without Age (CWA) launched its Winnipeg chapter Tuesday. The group is dedicated to helping people with limited mobility get out cycling. Volunteers use a specialized trishaw, a mix between a tricycle and a rickshaw, to give rides seniors or those living with a disability a ride around the community.

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RELATED: Seniors cycling group looking to expand in Fredericton

“It’s a program where volunteers take elderly people out for bike rides in these specially made trikes,” Ole Kassow, founder of CWA said.

“Very often elderly people tend to get isolated and don’t get to go outside, and that has a dramatic and negative consequence on their life.”

Kassow first launched the program in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark —; one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.

RELATED: Bike lanes around the world: Where mere paint won’t do it

Kassow said he wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he then started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.

The program is quickly spreading around the world and it now has more than 8,000 volunteers.

Last year Kassow said he met two Winnipeggers in Copenhagen who wanted to bring the program to the city.  So Kassow came to the city to help launch CWA, and is hoping it will be a huge success.

“Cycling is a chance to get your senses stimulated and also being around other people. You form relationships and friendships,” he said.

A look into Centennial Academy, a unique school in Quebec

Centennial Academy was founded in 1969 by a group of teachers who believed they could do more for kids with learning challenges.

Five decades later, the school claims it has now become a leader in helping students succeed, even beyond academics.

Its graduation rate is 90 per cent in the standard five years of high school.

The provincial rate is 75 per cent.

“We’re applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and that’s really looking at: ‘OK, if it works for one child, can it work for two —; can it work for the whole class?’” the head of Centennial Academy Angela Burgos said.

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Related

  • Centennial Academy finds temporary home in two public schools

    Besides educating students, staff focus on teaching effective learning behaviours.

    For example, getting organized and prioritizing —; things that are usually difficult for these students who suffer from a range of learning challenges including ADHD or autism.

    “We have cubicles, and every week, we’ll go organize it,” said Maya, a student.

    “All our binders are different colours and it’s been the same way since Grade 10.”

    That predictability and order helps create life skills that ultimate make students become more independent.

    “It helps you succeed, and so far, it’s helped me succeed for the three years I’ve been here,” said 14-year-old Dario.

    The school uses different tools and strategies.

    One method that has really helped is through learning-behaviour coaches.

    Kids who are not in a good learning space, head over to what they call a level room, where they get help to focus their energy.

    “If we were a car, we’re not a Volvo. We’re not a Mercedes. We’re a Tesla,” Burgos said.

    Parents believe the school’s approach has made a world of difference in their lives.

    “They do stuff now on their own, which I never thought they were going to be capable of doing. I don’t have to sit and be that helicopter parent anymore,” said mother-of-two Sharyn Hoppenheim.

    The school will have to move buildings for the next school year.

    READ MORE: Centennial Academy finds temporary home in two public schools

    For some of these students, change can be difficult.

    But parents and the school are confident the move will be a smooth transition.

    The school is in fact, planning to expand.

    They are opening a French sector this year for Grades 7 and 8, and are hoping to gradually add more classes.

Women likely to ignore early signs of bladder cancer: doctor

Zina Lombardi was a healthy, active 40-year-old mother of three when she learned she had bladder cancer.

“In late 2010, I was noticing some streaking, some blood when I would go to the bathroom. I really didn’t have any other symptoms, so like most people, I ignored it for probably two or three months,” Lombardi said.

READ MORE: 5 things you didn’t know about bladder cancer in Canada

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Related

    Bladder cancer survivor on beating the disease

  • New medication gives hope to dozens walking for bladder cancer

    According to Bladder Cancer Canada, about 9,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, and in most cases blood in the urine is the first warning sign.

    The trouble is, for women, that symptom is most often linked to another more common health problem, according to urologist Dr. Peter Black.

    “It’s often assumed that blood is a urinary tract infection so the necessary tests aren’t done to show that it’s bladder cancer,” Black said.

    Lombardi’s stage two bladder cancer diagnosis meant that she required four rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove her bladder.

    Recovery, she admits, was long and difficult, but today she’s feeling good and sharing her story so that others will learn the signs.

    WATCH: Bladder cancer drug will no longer be made by manufacturer

    “What I say to people is — if you see blood in your urine, go have it looked at and make sure if you’re told that it is a bladder infection, that it’s confirmed with a urinalysis that it really is an infection,” Lombardi said.

    “If not, then further investigation is necessary.”

Jury in William Sandeson murder trial sees police interrogation video

MacKenzie Ruthven was emotional and quite upset as she finished testifying at the murder trial of  24-year-old William Sandeson.

READ: Halifax court jammed by prospective jurors for Dalhousie medical student’s murder trial

Sandeson is facing a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the homicide of 22-year-old Taylor Samson.

Ruthven had been dating Samson for six months when he disappeared. She told the court that she briefly saw him during the day on Aug. 15, 2015. Ruthven said the pair had made plans to go to a nightclub in downtown Halifax that evening when Samson stepped out for a few minutes and never returned.

She told the seven-man, seven-woman jury that she repeatedly sent text messages and called Samson’s phone but was unable to get in touch with him. Ruthven said she has never had any contact with her boyfriend since that day.

WATCH: Murder trial hears from police, Taylor Samson’s girlfriend

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The Crown also called Det/Const. Roger Sayer to the stand. Sayer is a member of the Halifax Regional Police and the lead investigator on the Taylor Samson file.

After a few introductory questions from Crown Attorney Susan MacKay, Sayer introduced two interrogation videos into evidence.

Both of the videos were taken at Halifax police headquarters on Gottingen Street after Sandeson was arrested in connection with Samson’s missing persons case.

READ: Murder victim last seen at William Sandeson’s apartment building, prosecutor tells jury

The interrogation video is different from the first video that the jury saw during the trial. In that recording, Sandeson was questioned by a police officer as a potential witness in connection with Samson’s disappearance, not as a suspect.

In the videos presented to the court on Tuesday, a police officer told Sandeson that investigators were at his Henry Street apartment and searching it for evidence and asked Sandeson over and over again where Taylor was.

READ: Jury shown gun, bullets and cash seized from William Sandeson’s apartment

At the beginning of the interrogation with police, Sandeson denies knowing anything about the whereabouts of Samson. After a few hours of questioning, Sandeson changes his story and tells police that while Samson was at his apartment, several people broke in and may have taken Samson.

Sandeson goes on to tell police that there was a lot of blood at the residence and admits to cleaning it up and hiding money that was left behind. The officer then hammers away at Sandeson, asking why he would clean up the apartment and send text messages from his phone to Samson’s phone after this allegedly happened.

That’s where the video stopped and court was recessed for the day.

WATCH: William Sandeson ‘confident’ as murder trial begins in Halifax: defence

Despite searching multiple locations, including a farm in Lower Truro, N.S., which is owned by Sandeson’s family, police have never been able to locate Samson’s remains.

READ MORE: Taylor Samson’s mother pleads for her son’s body at Sandeson bail hearing

Although it is unusual to have a murder trial without a body, the Crown says it’s not unheard of.

In total, 32 court days spanning eight weeks have been set aside to hear the trial. Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Follow @NatashaPace

Nova Scotia Election: Tracking party promises on health care

EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the 2017 election Global News is tracking the promises each party makes on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency, budgets, diversity, and more. The stories will be updated as parties roll out their promises.

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Health care has become one of the most prominent issues on this election’s campaign trail. The promises have been wide ranging and diverse.

The Liberals’ big election promise during the 2013 election was to provide every family in the province with a doctor. During their mandate that did not happen — and during this campaign, no one has tried to make a similar promise.

The focus of this campaign has shifted to health infrastructure. An issue for all parties has been the redevelopment or replacement of Halifax’s aging Victoria General hospital.

READ MORE: All of our election coverage

Victoria General Hospital

Liberal

Have not released the complete cost for the hospital’s redevelopmentA public-private partnership model is a possibility

Progressive Conservative

Part of Jamie Baillie’s proposed $2-billion infrastructure plan would include a new Victoria General hospitalBaillie says he expects half of the $2 billion to come from Ottawa

NDP

Have said they will not use a public-private partnership funding model for the Victoria General hospital

Health System

Liberal

Will roll out a $116.7-million package to establish more collaborative care clinics and recruit more doctors. $78 million will go towards expanding and creating 70 collaborative care teams.McNeil said doctors will not be forced into collaborative care teams if they still want to work solo.$15 million will roll out over three years for construction and renovations of collaborative care clinics.$11.7 million will create 10 new spaces in the family medicine residency program and $12 million will go towards tuition relief.More than $31 million over four years to help Nova Scotians with disabilities live successfully in their communitiesAn investment of $14.7 million would allow government to create and maintain small options homes, which would allow up to 32 people to live in community-based settings.$25-million investment over four years for caregiver benefit program to expand eligibility to include 400 people caring for those with lower levels of dementia in 2017, and 1,200 caring for those with mental illness in 2018$2.25 million over three years to increase medical consultation support by using video technology$1.5 million over three years to expand Independent Living Support$3 million over four years to expand the Flex Independent Program$750,000 over three years to expand Respite Care Options$1.2 million for design work to expand emergency department at IWK Children’s Hospital

Progressive Conservative

Leader Jamie Baillie has promised that if his party were to form government, they would spend $19.5 million over four years to address the shortage of family doctors and specialists in Nova ScotiaMuch of the money would be spent in the first yearThe PCs would also add $6 million to the tuition relief program to keep new family doctors in Nova Scotia, and recognize the credentials for Nova Scotians who study medicine abroad$7.2 million to extend coverage for oral cancer drugs

NDP

The party will spend $120 million over four years to build new primary care clinics and to hire more doctors, nurses and nurse practitionersWork collaboratively with family doctors to determine what resources are needed in various communitiesSignificantly increase the medical help needed by people who are still without a physician (did not commit to a number)The NDP promised to expand dental care coverage for children under 18.Will implement all recommendations in the Nova Scotia General Employees Union’s Code Critical reportThe party will spend $6 million over four years to double the number of midwives in the provinceMoney from the $6 million will also be used to create a training program for aspiring midwives

Read More: Incumbent Andrew Younger withdraws from Dartmouth East election

Mental health care

Liberal

The Liberals have promised that with a new mandate they will commit $34 million over four years to improve access to mental health services across the province. They’ve promised 51 mental health clinicians will be hired through an expansion of the SchoolPlus program.Creation of a central intake system to ensure patients get the care they needAmong other initiatives is $2 million in funding over two years to pilot four youth health centres in Nova Scotia schoolsThe Liberals have promised the expansion of IWK Children’s Hospital emergency department would improve mental health services for those aged 16 to 19.

Progressive Conservative

Have promised to invest $39.7 million in the mental health systemProviding all students with access to in-school mental health servicesEstablishing Mental Health Crisis Response Centres to divert people undergoing a mental health crisis from emergency rooms to a facility, staffed by trained mental health professionals, to receive appropriate and informed treatment.Creation of a Mental Health and Wellness Institute in concert with a Nova Scotia university and attracting mental health experts.A $250 direct tax rebate for Nova Scotians who, through a medical diagnosis and treatment plan, rely on a psychiatric service dog.

NDP

The NDP says $21.5 million – which comes from the party’s $49.5 million commitment over four years — will go to a second mental health strategy, picking up where the 2009 NDP government’s left off$25 million on three pilot mental health hubs in emergency rooms in Halifax, Kentville and Sydney in an effort to speed up access to care

Seniors Long-term Care

Liberal

The Liberals have said $3.2 million was promised in last month’s proposed budget  — which was not passed before the election call — to increase food budgets and improve recreational therapy programming in long-term care facilities.

Progressive Conservative

The PCs have promised to spend $32.8 million over four years to reverse cuts to long term careThe party will freeze the cost share ratio for seniors’ pharmacare

NDP

Will restore $8 million cut to nursing homesThe NDP have promised to freeze pharmacare premiums and lobby for a national pharmacare program

Nova Scotia Election: Tracking party promises on diversity

EDITORS NOTE: Throughout the 2017 election Global News will track the promises each party makes on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency, budgets, and more. The stories will be updated as parties roll out their promises.

Diversity among party candidates became an issue on the first full day of the campaign.

READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage

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The NDP lead the pack on gender parity fielding 23 women out of a possible 51. The Progressive Conservatives are second with 17 women and the Liberals’ slate has 12 women on it.

The Grits though lead the way on racial diversity, fielding seven candidates who are minorities. The NDP have five candidates who are racial minorities and the Tories have one minority candidate.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Liberals field the most men, Tories the most white candidates

Increasing the per vote subsidy for women and minority candidates

The Progressive Conservatives said on May 2 that if they form government the per vote funding parties receive based on their last election result will be 1.5 times higher for votes cast for women, African Nova Scotians and Indigenous candidates. Leader Jamie Baillie said the subsidy would end once the legislature reflects Nova Scotians. “This is one of the most progressive things a Progressive Conservative party can do,” he said.NDP Leader Gary Burrill said his part’s record on diversity shows a financial incentive isn’t needed.Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said “it’s not something that I’m running on today.” But he told reporters its something he would look at.

Gender parity in cabinet

The NDP are committing to gender parity on cabinet. “The principal of gender parity ought also to be honoured in the executive council and that’s the kind of cabinet that we would build.”The Liberals said they won’t commit to gender parity. “We will continue to appoint the very best people,” McNeil said on May 2. In 2013 he appointed the most women ever to a Nova Scotia cabinet. Six women sat on the Liberal cabinet at dissolution.The Tories aren’t committing to gender parity on cabinet. “When women are considered for cabinet, they’re considered on an equal basis with men,” Baillie said on May 2 in Halifax.

Section of Toronto’s financial district remains closed after hydro vault explosions

A section of King Street just west of Yonge Street in Toronto’s financial district will remain closed for most of the day following a series of explosions during the evening rush hour on Monday.

The blasts, blamed on an overheated hydro vault fire, shut down the area at about 5 p.m. and sent commuters scrambling. There were no reports of any injuries.

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Thick black smoke was seen billowing from a set of sidewalk grates in front of a Royal Bank office building near King and Yonge.

Toronto Hydro said crews have been working through the night to conduct repairs to the vault. However, workers were forced out just after midnight when they noticed smoke.

“We determined that it was a conduit that was leading down into the transformer that was smoking,” Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Kevin Aucoin said. “The crews backed out and our guys put small amounts of water and CO2 trying to contain it.”

WATCH: Toronto Fire and Toronto Hydro investigating cause of underground hydro vault fire that erupted Monday afternoon at King and Bay. Ashley Carter reports. (May 1)

Fire official said firefighters remain on standby just in case there are any flare-ups.

“The problem is we have a live transformer next to a transformer that is blown,” Aucoin explained. “We have to be very careful not to use too much water so that we could have a problem with the backup transformer beside it —; that’s powering the backup generators right now.”

Hydro officials said the vault had to be “de-energized” last night before crews were allowed to pump the rain water out and conduct repairs.

“We went in and we know the area is severely damaged. Yesterday there was a lot of rainfall, so that is a potential culprit here,” Toronto Hydro spokesperson Brian Buchan said. “If the vault did flood, then that would be devastating for the vault itself.”

READ MORE: Hydro vault fire in downtown Toronto to blame for heavy smoke, underground explosions

Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Kevin Shaw said the fire was smoldering early Tuesday morning as firefighters attempted to extinguish it without damaging the transformer, which powers Royal Bank’s computer system.

“So we cannot get water on that,” Shaw said earlier in the day. “We tried CO2 and small amounts of water. If that’s not successful then we’ll stand by until Royal Bank has some IT people coming in and they’ll do whatever they have to do to secure their computer systems.”

Hydro officials said the plan is to reroute the power to the building temporarily until the broken transformer is replaced.

“That would get the customer back on and in the meantime then we would do a permanent fix that would take some time,” Buchan said.

Toronto Hydro says scene of downtown explosion remains very active

09:41

Toronto Hydro says scene of downtown explosion remains very active

01:50

Underground explosions force closure of busy downtown Toronto streets

01:53

Toronto fire and hydro investigate cause of downtown fire



The vault explosions shut down the King subway station on Monday and caused several streetcars to take detours.

Both the 504 and 514 routes continue to be diverted on Tuesday.

The underground PATH system was also evacuated including the buildings adjacent to the explosions.

Fire officials said the Royal Bank building will remain closed for the day while other businesses in the area are open.

-With files from Nick Westoll