A Prince George man has been found guilty of sexually assaulting three preteen girls by repeatedly putting his hand on their bottoms to push them out of the way as he swam around the lazy river at the Prince George Aquatic Centre.
In a decision issued last week, Provincial Court Judge Peter McDermick found that James Allan Prince, 66, made contact with the girls, ages 11-12, four times combined - once below the buttocks and three times on them - over the course of 20-30 minutes during an evening in November 2017.
When one of the girls told him his actions were inappropriate, Prince replied that they were meant to be and told her to get out of his way, McDermick said in recounting testimony from a trial on the matter. Two of the girls then alerted a lifeguard about the incidents and RCMP subsequently arrested Prince, who by then had gotten out of the water and had gone into the sauna.
It took more than 2 1/2 hours for McDermick to read out his verdict as he addressed concerns raised by defence counsel Tony Zipp about the girls possibly colluding on their stories, whether they accurately identified the culprit and the nature of Prince's actions.
While McDermick found they were intentional, he agreed with Zipp that they were conducted without sexual intent. Nonetheless, he concluded they still constituted three counts of sexual assault due to their "repetitive nature and anatomical placement of the contact."
Had McDermick also found there was sexual intent, Prince would also have been found guilty of three counts of sexual interference of a person under 16.
Prince will be sentenced at a later date once a pre-sentence report has been completed.
Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen