A man who molested young children in his wife’s Maple Ridge daycare was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.
Latif Hamad Tata will serve his sentence in a federal penitentiary, but was credited for 218 days he has already spent in custody.
Tata faced a total of 12 charges – four counts each of sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault – but pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.
He admitted to sexually touching two girls, between ages two to four, while they were being cared for at Shining Stars Daycare.
Crown prosecutor Wendy Wakabayashi confirmed Tata admitted to molesting the girls on more than one occasion.
He was also charged with sexually assaulting two other young children, but those charges will be stayed.
“Some of the charges had to be dropped because the kids were too young to talk,” said a woman who knows the affected families.
The allegations against Tata surfaced after one of the young girls refused to go to the daycare, Judge David Stone said during sentencing.
“I don’t like Latif,” the girl told her mother.
When questioned further, the four-year-old revealed Tata had touched her private parts, forced her to perform oral sex and engaged in other sexual touching while his wife was picking up older children from school.
The young girl told her mom that Tata urged her to hurry up before his wife returned.
Ridge Meadows RCMP was contacted and the young girl was interviewed by investigators on Dec. 13, 2012. Tata was arrested later that day.
He admitted the assaults to police, but claimed they had only been happening for a month.
The second victim revealed the assaults to her parents, who recorded her testimony on a cell phone.
The court heard the young girl was visibly upset in the video, screaming and crying on the floor.
When police tried to interview the young girl, she did not disclose the molestation because she was too scared.
Tata, however, admitted to sexually assaulting the young girl, including oral sex and sexual touching.Dressed in a prison-issued red T-shirt and track pants, Tata had no emotional reaction as the judge detailed his crimes. He sat hunched and occasionally looked at the court room where his family and friends were seated.
“The impact of a sexual assault on a child’s life cannot be understated,” Judge Stone said before handing Tata his sentence in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court.
Stone took into account Tata’s guilty plea, but noted a pre-sentence report did not paint the 39-year-old father of three young girls in a positive light.
The pre-sentence report noted Tata is unwilling to participate in sex offender rehabilitation program and lacks insight into his crimes. He also did not take responsibility for his behaviour.
Tata told the author of the report that he was “normal” and would not benefit from treatment.
Due to his lack of empathy, the report noted that it is likely Tata will require intensive, long-term intervention to reduce the risk of reoffending.
Tata’s lawyer, John Cheevers, clarified the characterization of his client in the pre-sentence report by explaining there were cultural issues at play and that Tata misunderstood the questions posed to him by the author of the report.
Cheevers told the court that he has discussed sex offender treatment programs with Tata and his client has expressed a desire to enroll in them.
Originally from Afghanistan, Tata was born in Kabul and came to Canada in 1994 with his father, mother and brother after they spent several years as refugees in Pakistan.
He has a Grade 6 education, a lazy eye and has suffered from poor eyesight his entire life.
Since his arrival in Canada, his primary means of income has been a disability pension. The family mostly depended on his wife’s income from operating the daycare. Tata has been married to his wife for 10 years.
Judge Stone read excerpts from victim impact statements, noting they eloquently described the ordeal the families have gone through.
“The parents had put their trust into Mr. Tata and his wife and that trust was betrayed,” said Stone.
“The parents feel anguish over the pain of their children and anticipate, with regret, the difficulties their daughters may experience as they mature. These crimes will affect the lives of both families forever.”
Outside court, Tata’s wife refused to comment on her husband’s sentence.
“I’m trying to move on with my life,” she said after demanding that she not be named.
His wife ran Shining Stars Daycare on 122nd Avenue until the allegations against her husband surfaced.
The business should not be confused with Shining Stars Montessori Daycare and Preschool in east Maple Ridge.
The daycare has since closed and the house has been sold, but the family still resides in Maple Ridge.