Bell Island man sentenced to time served on sexual assault charge
A Bell Island man who asked the court for leniency on a sexual assault charge got it Tuesday.
Raymond Ronald Barnes, 24, was sentenced in provincial court in St. John’s to one year time served in connection with the sexual relationship he had with an underage girl that resulted in the birth of their daughter.
Judge Lori Marshall cited plenty of case law in bringing down her decision Tuesday afternoon, noting a 12 month sentence is within the range of acceptability for the sexual assault of a person under 16 according to the Criminal Code, and is “not light for a first-time offender.”
Barnes was 20 when he began a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. She gave birth to a daughter when she was 16.
Marshall noted in giving the sentence that the girl was a willing participant in the relationship, there was no indication she was groomed or lured, both sets of parents were aware of the relationship, and there was nothing to suggest Barnes was only out for his own sexual gratification. She also stressed that she was not condoning the parents’ tolerance of the relationship.
The girl, who was in the courtroom Tuesday, is now over the age of consent.
“It is evident Mr. Barnes has limited insight into the serious crime he committed when he commenced a sexual relationship with (the girl),” Marshall said. “In this case, neither (the girl) nor her parents reported it to police and there is no evidence she or her parents wished charges to be laid.”
By law, a person under the age of 16 cannot give consent to a person more than four years older than they are. If the sexual activity includes elements such as anal sex, payment or pornography, or involves a person in a position of trust or authority, the age of consent is 18 years. All sexual activity without consent is unlawful.
Sexual activity with a person under 16 years of age can carry a prison sentence of 14 years.
Barnes had not had any contact with the teenager since he was banned from doing so when he was charged, Marshall said, though he has maintained visitation with his daughter. The baby’s mother wrote a letter to the court, which was read Tuesday, asking for the no-contact order to be lifted in order to facilitate co-parenting.
Barnes did earn another sentence: Marshall gave him 14 months’ house arrest for other unrelated charges from the summer of 2015, relating to the theft and burning of an ATV, the theft of a car, making threats to police and breaching court orders.
Marshall noted Barnes, who had been abusing prescription drugs and crack cocaine at the time of the offences, had been sober since the birth of his daughter last year and had completed drug abuse treatment programs while in custody and out on bail.
Marshall also handed Barnes six months’ probation, a 10-year weapons ban, and a listing on the sex offender registry for 20 years.