Winnipeg Sun February 26, 2000
Family counsellor, a self-styled "drill sergeant," gets one year in jail for strapping stepchildren
WINNIPEG (CP) - A family counsellor who hit his stepchildren with a leather strap for wearing the wrong underwear to church and mixing up their food has been sentenced to a year in jail.
Trevor Ballantyne stood silently, head bowed, as Court of Queen's Bench Justice Deborah McCawley imposed a 12-month sentence Friday on three assault charges.
McCawley said Ballantyne, who described himself as a strict disciplinarian, caused his three stepchildren to seek shelter with Child and Family Services because of his attacks on them between January 1996 and November 1997.
"Mr. Ballantyne shows little remorse and believes what he did was right," the judge said. "He admits he himself is a strict disciplinarian and knows no other way."
Court heard on one occasion Ballantyne struck his stepson for wearing the wrong underwear to church. His youngest stepdaughter was strapped for getting her hair wet before an appointment. There was also corporal punishment for eating food out of what Ballantyne considered the proper order.
Ballantyne was found guilty last October on two counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of common assault.
Defence lawyer John Michaels said Ballantyne was being punished for events that could be "viewed differently in a different time and a different place."
Ballantyne, 40, was raised in Barbados by his grandmother and subjected to frequent lashings for improper behaviour, Michaels said.
"He now clearly understands that in Canadian society corporal punishment is simply not acceptable."
But McCawley pointed out that victim impact statements filed by the three children are devastating.
"They do not understand how one man has succeeded in tearing their family apart," the judge said.
In addressing the court, Ballantyne said he still loves and misses his stepchildren and understands his actions were wrong.
"It hurts me to know my wife has been without her children because of something I did," he said.
The children - now 18, 16 and 11 - are in the care of their biological fathers in Winnipeg and Toronto.
The eldest daughter attended Friday's court hearing and said physical assaults were a part of life in her family.
"He said he would run the house like a boot camp and he was our drill sergeant," she said. "I just wish it would have been a longer sentence."