February 17, 2012

License of professional revoked for sexually exploiting neighbour’s children

Administrative Law
Professional Regulation

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld decisions of a hearing panel and an appeal panel of the Law Society of Upper Canada to revoke the license of a member convicted of sexual exploitation of two children in their early mid-teens.

The professional was a close friend of neighbours, who family included three teen-aged children. He was found to have entered into sexual relationships with each of the children. While acquitted of charges of sexual assault, due to the consent of the sisters who were all over the age of 14, he was convicted of sexual exploitation of two children, based on his having acquired a position of trust and authority over them. R. v. P.B.B. (2006), 75 W.C.B. (2d) 726, [2006] O.J. No. 2004, appeal dismissed 2007 ONCA 722; s.153(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.

After a four-day disciplinary hearing, a hearing panel of the Law Society of Upper Canada found the member guilty of conduct unbecoming a barrister and solicitor, and revoked his licence. Both an appeal panel of the Law Society and the Ontario Court of Appeal found the penalty to be reasonable, despite alleged errors including a failure of the hearing panel to consider the member’s good character.

On the matter of penalty, the hearing panel noted that in Ontario, the presumptive penalty where sexual exploitation is established is revocation/disbarment, or permission to resign, and found that the member’s outstanding career and his many good qualities collectively did not mitigate the “distrustful, deceptive and prolonged nature of the sexual exploitation” established.” [15]

The Court of Appeal found the penalty to fall within the range of what is reasonable. [16] The court noted that, “it was reasonable for the tribunal to consider that sexual offences involving minors are more serious than sexual offences involving adults. Young people have not developed to the stage where they are able to make adult choices involving sexual activity. The appellant has not shown reviewable error.” [17]

Budd v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2012 ONSC 412