A Greater Sudbury man who spied on a female teen minor through her bedroom window in May — and was later captured on surveillance video on a second attempt leading to his arrest — won’t be going to jail.
“I am embarrassed,” Timothy Belanger, 44, told Ontario Court Justice John Keast this week, just before receiving a suspended sentence and a three-year probation order.
“You should be embarrassed,” Keast snapped back. “The victim impact statements are very alarming. This young girl has been significantly traumatized by this and to the point where she is basically disengaged as a teenager. The friends’ parents don’t want their kids around her for fear there will be fallout on them. She is emotionally isolated and she is unable to just enjoy being a teenager and having a little freedom.”
Belanger was facing more than half a dozen charges including voyeurism, two counts of trespass at night and a drug trafficking charge all laid in mid-July. He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal harassment and not guilty to a charge of methamphetamine possession for the purpose of trafficking, but guilty to the lesser charge of methamphetamine possession.
Keast then told Belanger he felt the suspended sentence and a proposed three-year probation order did not adequately address the underlying issues in the man’s life.
“I suspect the drugs in your case are unmasking some form of sexual deviance,” said the judge. “We have to talk about the elephant in the room. There is something in your background or history … A $20 bill being left in these circumstances (with a note in the screen on the teen’s bedroom window) is extremely bizarre.”
Keast said he would include a provision in the probation order that Belanger undergoes a complete psychological assessment as he felt it was required to get to the bottom of why a middle-aged man would be so attracted to a female teen minor.
Keast also ordered that Belanger report to his probation officer in all three years of his probation unless the probation officer deems otherwise (defense lawyer Daniel Topp and the Crown had suggested reporting for just one year).
In addition, the judge issued a DNA order.
“I feel here there is a serious deviance issue going on here,” said the judge. “You’re at high risk to re-offend in some way. The community has to be protected.”
Keast also noted that Belanger’s criminal record, which dates back to 2001, includes robbery and drug offenses.
“I suspect your drug issue and substance abuse issue have been going on for a long time,” he told Belanger.
The probation order also includes conditions that Belanger does not possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs, take recommended assessment, counselling and treatment for any issues the probation officer deems necessary and could include drug and alcohol abuse, sexual deviance and psychological and psychiatric issues.
In addition, Belanger must stay away from, not watch or observe, and have no contact with the girl and that he perform 75 hours of community service.
Before sentencing, Belanger had made a $500 donation to a registered charity.
Topp had earlier told the court that what happened “seems to be an isolated incident in Mr. Belanger’s life.”
Keast also told a relative of the victim who was in court that it was important the teen get counselling.
“She needs counselling, not because she did anything wrong, but because she has to heal from this,” he said. “My concern is she may be seriously emotionally harmed for many years and it’s critical she get counselling to deal with the emotional harm.”
The court heard the girl was sleeping at home the mid-afternoon of May 25 when she awoke to the sound of some banging on the screen of her bedroom window. A check of the screen found a note with the words “yum nice” accompanied by a smiley face emoji and also the words “our secret”.
A $20 bill was attached to the note.
The teen showed her parents the note and $20 bill. In response, they installed a motion sensor and surveillance camera.
On July 10, the sensor went off. A check of the surveillance video showed an image of a man at the screen. The bedroom’s blinds were drawn.
Belanger was identified as the man in the video and it was believed he was carrying binoculars.
Greater Sudbury Police were contacted and a search warrant was executed at Belanger’s home. The clothing worn by the man in the surveillance video and binoculars were found, along with 50 methamphetamine tablets with an estimated street value of $500.
Officers also seized a small amount of cash.
Assistant Crown attorney Anna Spieser, summarizing from victim impact statements prepared by the teen’s parents, told the court the girl was so unnerved that she had to switch to a bedroom that does not have a window.
The teen, added Spieser, also withdrew to her room as she was afraid to go outside for walks for fear of the man observing her, and now distrusts older men.
“She is not allowed to enjoy life,” said the assistant Crown attorney.
As well, Spieser said the teen’s family had to spend thousands of dollars on a security system because of Belanger’s behaviour.
Topp told the court Belanger had a substance abuse problem at the time. He said the two pleas of guilt averted a trial and spared the teen from having to testify.
“It would have been horrible had this gone to trial for all parties,” he said. “What the family wants is to keep Mr. Belanger away from this young girl and we are prepared to do that.”