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B.C. judge rejects bid for conditional sentence in 'egregious' sexual assault case

The provincial courthouse in Prince George, B.C., is seen in a Google Maps image captured in August 2018. The provincial courthouse in Prince George, B.C., is seen in a Google Maps image captured in August 2018.

Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing to readers.

A B.C. man who pleaded guilty to the "egregious" sexual assault of an unconscious Indigenous girl in Prince George will spend one year in jail after the judge rejected a joint submission asking for a conditional sentence.

The sentence was handed down in provincial court on Sept. 27 and the decision was posted online Tuesday.

Craig Bogh pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference, admitting to raping a 15-year-old in broad daylight on a school field near a playground in August of 2020.

Crown counsel and Bogh's defence asked the court to impose a conditional sentence order for two years less a day, followed by three years of probation – meaning Bogh would not spend any time behind bars.

Judge Cassandra Malfair did not accept that proposal.

"The circumstances of the offence and its impact are egregious, the Crown's case is uncomplicated and overwhelming, and there is no significant benefit to the victim or the justice system gained from the guilty plea justifying an extraordinarily lenient sentence," she wrote.

"I find a reasonably informed member of the public would find a non-custodial sentence so unhinged from the circumstances of the offence and the offender that they would believe the proper functioning of the justice system had broken down and I reject the joint submission."

The court heard that Bogh, who was 22 at the time, had been drinking with the victim – identified only by the initials A.J. – and two of her friends prior to the assault. A.J. became "grossly intoxicated" and passed out, according to the decision.

"While A.J. was unconscious, Mr. Bogh removed A.J.'s pants and underwear, pulled down his pants, and had sexual intercourse with her in front of her companions in the middle of the field in view of the children's play park. A grandmother at the children's park with her husband and grandchildren called the police," the judge wrote, adding that Bogh only stopped the assault of the "lifeless" victim when police arrived.

"Her companions were extremely intoxicated, crying, and unable to speak. They appeared to be in distress and kept asking the police for help."

The judge explained that Bogh has "significant mental deficits and social deficits" that "likely impeded his decision-making in the time leading up to the offence which set the stage for its commission." The court heard that Bogh has a genetic condition called Cri-du-chat syndrome, which impedes his cognitive functioning and means he is unable to live alone and unassisted. He also admittedly abused alcohol.

While the evidence of two experts on the nature and extent of his "deficits" conflicted at times, both ultimately found he had "the mental capacity to know his actions were legally or morally wrong," according to Malfair.

"The evidence put before me does not establish that Mr. Bogh's cognitive impediments were the driving factor in his decision to rape the victim while she was unconscious," the judge continued.

The court also considered that Bogh is an Indigenous offender whose grandparents were survivors of residential school and who was disconnected from his family and culture and abused as a child.

Still, the judge found that none of the mitigating factors – including Bogh's guilty plea and personal circumstances, as well as the fact that he has been on conditions amounting to house arrest for three years – were enough to outweigh all of the aggravating factors in the case, which Malfair said made a jail term necessary.

"The victim was a child. The victim was a vulnerable Indigenous female. The victim was ill at the time at the time of the rape, ultimately requiring overnight hospital treatment. Instead of seeking medical attention or trying to rouse the victim, Mr. Bogh took advantage of her incapacity to rape her. The harmful impact on the victim has been significant. The offence was especially degrading involving the rape of the victim in a public place in view of members of the public. The rape of a vulnerable unconscious victim is demeaning and dehumanizing, reducing that human being to little more than an object to be used as a tool for sexual gratification," the judge wrote.

"Mr. Bogh raped the victim near a playground where children were playing in full view of its occupants and, in doing so, spread the horrifying impact of this offence to other members of the community."

In addition to the one-year jail sentence, Bogh was sentenced to three years on probation and required to register as a sex offender. Top Stories

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