The Hamilton Spectator

Etobicoke man found guilty of assaulting girl he met online

Judge says accused failed to take all reasonable steps to confirm victim’s age


An Etobicoke man has been found guilty of sexual assaulting a young girl he befriended online.

Alexander Hang was 31 years old when he met up with a 14-year-old girl twice in the summer of 2020, including one meeting in a local parking lot that saw the teenager receive money after performing sexual acts, a Hamilton court heard earlier this month.

He was arrested in August 2020 and charged with sexual assault, sexual interferen­ce and invitation to sexual touching.

After a two-day trial, Justice Andrew Goodman found him guilty on all counts, saying that Hang failed to do his due diligence to confirm the victim’s age. Hang had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At issue in the case was whether

Hang honestly believed his victim was over 16 or if he took all reasonable steps to ascertain her age.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Hang and the young girl met on social media, communicat­ing a few times and exchanged several photos — some of them nude — before meeting for the first time in a parking lot.

Court heard there was no sexual activity during that first encounter, after which Hang gave the girl $30. On the second occasion, the pair did engage in sexual activity, with Hang paying the girl $100 after driving her home to her mother’s house.

The teenager — who can’t be identified due to a publicatio­n ban — testified during the trial that she was sexually assaulted during the second meeting and vomited after performing sexual acts on Hang. She also said she informed Hang she was 14, lived with her mother, went to high school and had a curfew of 9 p.m. Although the victim didn’t want to have sexual contact with Hang, she testified she was interested in getting a cellphone and money from him.

Hang, meanwhile, offered the court a different version of events, testifying the girl told him she was 17 and that he’d taken all reasonable steps to confirm her age by asking for her driver’s licence.

But the accused’s evidence at trial was “inconsiste­nt” and “self-serving,” and his testimony “evasive, unresponsi­ve and illogical,” Goodman said, adding Hang was “filling in gaps when necessary.”

“The authoritie­s do not provide the accused need make every single inquiry (as to a person’s age), but in this case, I find he didn’t make any reasonable inquiries to accept her age and took his own assertions at face value,” the judge said, noting there was a nearly 18-year age gap between Hang and the victim.

“The higher the age difference, the higher the onus on the adult to make inquiries about age.”

Goodman took issue with the litany of inconsiste­ncies in Hang’s testimony.

For example, Hang initially testified he wasn’t concerned about the girl’s age because she’d sent him nude photos prior to their first meeting. Later, during cross-examinatio­n, he said the pictures were sent after the first meeting. Hang also testified he wasn’t aware about the girl’s curfew or living arrangemen­ts. Later, he conceded the victim told him about both. And while Hang initially said he wasn’t concerned about the victim’s age due to the explicit photos she sent him, he later testified he asked for her driver’s licence because he wanted to “see proof” of her age.

“Even though he claimed he asked for identifica­tion — which I categorica­lly reject — he never did receive it,” Goodman said. “And it doesn’t make sense to me logically. You’re meeting a person for the first time, a stranger, and you ask, ‘Show me your identifica­tion.’ That doesn’t make sense.”

Goodman added the accused’s evidence was also self-serving. Court heard Hang viewed the victim’s Instagram page, which had a bio that indicated the girl was in Grade 9. But Hang testified he only looked at her photos and didn’t read her bio.

“It is obvious to me — painfully obvious — that the photograph­s belie any assertion the victim was older than 16,” the judge said. “It’s entirely self-serving for the accused to indicate, ‘Well, I only saw five or six photograph­s, but I never read the bio.’ ”

Goodman said there were multiple red flags that indicated the girl was well under 16, but, ultimately, Hang was “either reckless or wilfully blind as to (the victim’s) age.”

The judge noted even if there were consent to sex that wouldn’t relieve Hang of criminal liability, as his victim was under 16.

A date for sentencing was expected to be set Monday.

Court heard there was no sexual activity during that first encounter, after which Hang gave the girl $30. On the second occasion, the pair did engage in sexual activity, with Hang paying the girl $100 after driving her home to her mother’s house

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