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Kings County photographer gets conditional discharge, probation, for historic sexual assault

The Kentville law courts - File photo
The Kentville law courts - File photo

Judge states not necessary for all discharges ‘to be in the public interest’

KENTVILLE – A fire scene photographer and former volunteer firefighter has been handed a conditional discharge with six months of probation after being found guilty of sexual assault.

Brian Gary Taylor, 58, of Kentville, was present in Kentville Provincial Court Sept. 24 as Judge Ronda van der Hoek recited her decision, which referenced past precedents that also found a conditional discharge “need not be deleterious.”

“Mr. Taylor does not have to establish a positive impact on the public, nor does a discharge have to be in the public interest,” said van der Hoek.

“Discharges have been granted for many serious offences. I have granted many discharges in this court, and I granted a few today.”

The incident for which Taylor has been found guilty is a historic one, having occurred in 1989, when Taylor touched the victim’s penis over his clothing. The male victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban.

The judge said this action “is something that does not accord with common sense, or this court’s understanding,” referencing her many “gay male friends and acquaintances over decades.”

“[The complainant] was not a casual acquaintance met at a gay bar, or a bath house, or any other such place where one might possibly scope out another person’s interest in sexual contact by direct contact with a person’s penis,” she said.

In her analysis of her decision, van der Hoek said Taylor’s admittance while under oath to his guilt should receive “primary emphasis.”

“Mr. Taylor acknowledged his guilt under oath. He is a 58-year-old man without a criminal record. The offence was, I find, at the low-end of the scale and fairly minor in nature. It was brief, and over clothing,” she said.

Van der Hoek also considered the impact a full conviction would have on his future employment and ability to travel across the United States border, as Taylor remains employed as a manager at the Michelin plant in Waterville, which has offices in the U.S.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that a criminal record, in this climate that we are in right now with the United States of America, would be an impediment for you being able to cross the border to do anything with respect to work in that country,” she said.

The judge also said she discerns the victim has not been traumatized by the events of the historic incident, saying he “survives” and “thrives” with the support of his family.

“He has moved on, and has thought little of it since it occurred those many years ago,” she said.

Van der Hoek said she did not agree that incarceration was appropriate for Taylor, who will be under probation for six months as part of his conditional discharge.

His conditions include to keep the peace, have no contact with the victim without his consent and complete any and all counselling or therapy as directed by his probation officer. Taylor will be fully discharged once the probation is successfully completed.

“While any sexual assault is serious, a brief touching over clothing cannot be dealt with as if it were much more than that,” said van der Hoek.

Taylor’s DNA will be registered for 20 years in the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, or SOIRA, which is part of the RCMP’s National Sex Offender Registry.

Taylor was previously acquitted in May 2017 in a separate case involving historic sexual assault allegations, for which he was found not guilty by Judge Catherine Benton.

The judge's decision stated that too many discrepancies were found in the complainant’s account of events and that the Crown failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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