A teenage girl who told police she had been in a relationship with a man more than twice her age says she is much more than a sexual abuse survivor.
The girl, who can’t be named because of a publication ban, said she is smart, funny, a supporter, a musician and a daughter.
“I am a strong and powerful young woman and I am not defined by this experience,” she said.
On Monday morning, the girl sat on the witness stand in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown during a sentencing hearing for music teacher and actor Aaron Phillip Crane.
Crane, 37, appeared before Justice Terri MacPherson after previously pleading guilty to one count of sexual interference.
During a previous appearance, the court heard the victim, who was younger than the age of consent, told police that what she described as a relationship lasted about seven months.
The court heard Crane’s involvement with the girl escalated to the point that they were regularly having sexual intercourse.
It ended when the victim reported it.
When the girl sat at the witness stand Monday, she took a long breath before starting, her voice shaking as she started to read her statement.
She told the court about her struggles since coming forward and said she gets swallowed by “immense waves” of panic.
“For every good day, there are three bad days,” she said.
The girl said it kills her to think she will leave high school having had one romantic relationship, adding that it wasn’t even romantic.
“It was abuse,” she said.
- Justice Terri MacPherson will make a decision in January about lifting a publication ban after Aaron Crane’s victim made the request Monday.
MacPherson said she understood where the victim was coming from and asked her to consider it further.
It’s not just the girl taking control of her story, but also her giving control to the rest of the world, MacPherson said.
“Once the ban is lifted, the horse is out of the barn.”
Other members of the girl’s family also read their victim impact statements into the record Monday, including her mother who said she will never understand why Crane did what he did.
She will never forgive Crane, the woman said.
“I truly hate him.”
The girl’s brother, who is several years younger than her, told the court he blamed himself for not protecting his sister and he worried Crane would come to their home to take her away.
He told the court he never wished harm on anyone, but Crane was an exception.
When Crown attorney Lisa Goulden made her submissions, she referred to a pre-sentence report in which Crane said his relationship with the girl was the best he ever had.
The report noted that Crane said it felt real and he wanted to marry the girl.
Goulden said a message needs to be sent to people who commit sexual violence against children.
“Stop violating our children,” she said.
Defence lawyer Conor Mullin said Crane did something terrible, but people can’t be defined by the worst thing they’ve done.
“Mr. Crane is not a monster,” Mullin said.
In his submissions, Mullin recommended a sentence in the range of 27 to 48 months while Goulden recommended seven to nine years.
Before court adjourned, Crane stood and spoke, his fingers fidgeting with a face mask held in his hands as he said he was sorry to everyone in the courtroom.
Crane talked about building relationships over the years and said he devoted his life to making people feel valued.
“Now it’s all gone,” he said.
After a brief break when the court’s audio recording system stopped working, Crane said he is not a bad person, but he made a terrible mistake.
“I am sorry beyond measure for the pain and confusion and loneliness I have inflicted on so many wonderful people.”
Crane will be back in court Jan. 5 for sentencing.