WARNING: This story contains disturbing content
A Langley man who sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl tried to appeal on the grounds that he’d been “stereotyped,” but the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected his arguments in an April 15 ruling.
Dino Gordon Pastro was convicted of sexual assault, and making and possessing child pornography, two years ago, on April 1, 2019, for two incidents that took place in 2016 and 2017.
He was sentenced to four years for sexual assault, plus an additional three months for the child pornography charges, for a total of 51 months in jail, and was given 33 months credit for the time spent in custody awaiting trial.
Pastro claimed the judge made mistakes in the conviction on sexual assault and wanted a new trial.
In his ruling, Justice Gregory Fitch of the Court of Appeal wrote that at the time of the assaults, Pastro was divorced, living with his mother in a trailer in Langley, and was using drugs heavily.
The victim also had a history of drug use, and Pastro gave both her and her boyfriend cannabis, OxyContin, and Percocet.
Before long, the victim testified she was “craving more of them,” referring to the opioid pills.
“She said that on days she did not see the appellant [Pastro], she would experience acute symptoms of withdrawal,” Fitch wrote.
It was in this climate of drug dependence that Pastro would kiss and touch the victim whenever her boyfriend was out of the room. She testified she didn’t feel comfortable with it, and told Pastro that, but kept coming back “because of the drugs.”
Twice, Pastro had sex with her while she protested.
The victim testified that she felt ashamed and did not tell her boyfriend after the first incident, and was reluctant to tell anyone or go to the police.
“Dino knows a lot of people and I didn’t know what people would think of me if I told them ’cause I felt like I… I felt like it was my fault,” she testified in the original trial.
The second incident took place several months later.
At the original trial, Pastro testified that the victim “teased” him and was “leading [him] on.”
However, the original judge did not find Pastro a credible witness at all, while he found that the victim was credible and did not try to embellish her testimony.
He also found it extremely unlikely that a 17-year-old would plausibly be so enamoured of a 49-year-old man that she would conspire with him – as Pastro claimed – to get her boyfriend out of the way so they could have sex.
Pastro’s appeal claimed that the original judge’s ruling was based on “stereotypes and unwarranted assumptions” rather than the specifics of the case.
However, the Crown prosecutor in the appeal argued that the judge was ruling on specifics – not that any 17-year-old would never be interested in sleeping with a 49-year-old, but that this particular 17-year-old had no interest in sleeping with this particular 49-year-old.
In his appeal ruling, Fitch noted that one reason stereotypes are consider a problem in sexual assault cases in general is that they have often been used against female victims.
“Historically, preconceived notions about behavioural expectations rooted in myths or stereotypic reasoning were used to unfairly discredit sexual assault complainants,” Fitch wrote.
But Fitch wrote that the judge based much of his ruling on testimony from the victim, who found Pastro’s attentions “creepy”, “weird”, “inappropriate” and “disgusting.”
In rejecting the appeal, the three judges of the Court of Appeal panel were unanimous.
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