A sharp-eyed employee at the Staples store in Penticton helped police catch a long-time Summerland lifeguard who took advantage of his position to sexually abuse at least one child and make secret video recordings of others, a judge heard Monday.
Edward Casavant, 55, pleaded guilty in July to possession of child pornography, making child pornography, voyeurism and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.
His sentencing hearing got underway Monday in provincial court. Lawyers for the Crown and defence are jointly recommending a prison term of five years with enhanced credit for time served. Judge Lisa Wyatt reserved her decision.
Court heard Casavant – who also went by the name Eddie Spaghetti – bought a new laptop computer at Staples in November 2018 and paid to have a store technician transfer over the data from his old computer.
It was during the data transfer process the technician saw child pornography in a folder titled “Fun with boys.” A store manager later reported the material to police.
In the days that followed, Casavant admitted to a friend he had sexual interactions with an autistic boy for whom he had provided overnight respite care for two years beginning in 2011 around the time the boy turned eight.
Court heard the boy’s mom had gone to the RCMP in 2014 with suspicions about Casavant, but the boy didn’t disclose anything untoward when interviewed by police so the case was closed.
After the incident at Staples in 2018, however, police reinterviewed the boy, who was then 12 years old, and the boy detailed some of his sexual interactions with Casavant. The boy’s statement was corroborated by videos of the sex acts found on Casavant’s computers.
Crown counsel Dorothy Tsui said police have since interviewed other clients of Casavant’s, but none reported any sexual misconduct.
Casavant also admitted to a friend that he used a spy camera attached to a clipboard to secretly record children in the change rooms at the Summerland Aquatic Centre for 10 to 15 years. Police, however, only found videos for the years 2008 through 2016. Those videos were sealed by the judge and people depicted in the videos will not be notified.
Casavant had been employed as a lifeguard, swim instructor and diving coach at the facility since 1986, before he retired in November 2018 when the police investigation began. Casavant also taught swimming lessons at schools and summer camps.
Defence counsel Don Skogstad described his client’s childhood as “dysfunctional, abusive, alcoholic,” which made Casavant a target for bullies.
Skogstad said the autistic boy was the only child with whom Casavant performed sex acts, because the “physical closeness” the boy required, such as having an adult sleep in bed with him, left Casavant unable to control his pedophilic urges.
Casavant, who has been in custody since his arrest, apologized when given the chance to address the court Monday.
Both lawyers acknowledged the suggested five-year sentence is on the low end of the scale because of frailties in the case.
Skogstad said he could have argued to have the evidence thrown out because the Staples technician violated Casavant’s privacy, which Tsui agreed would have been a “live issue.” She also said the boy would have been a “very frail witness.”
Judge Wyatt is scheduled to deliver her sentence Jan. 13.
This story was updated with additional information from the sentencing hearing