Court house

The Penticton court house.

A Penticton man found guilty of sexual interference involving a 13-year-old girl will remain behind bars until a date has been set for sentencing.

Robert Russel Joseph Morin, 25, was convicted of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 and invitation to sexual touching under 16.

Court heard Morin connected with a13-year-old Kelowna girl online in August 2016 through a dating app, and the two continued their communication via Facebook messenger.

The pair "sexted" and exchanged explicit photos of one another, including Morin’s genitals, the girl wearing lingerie and “possibly” one of her covering her breasts with her arm.

The girl testified she told Morin multiple times in messages she was 13.

In October 2016, Morin and another man drove to Kelowna to pick up the girl and her friend – who was also underage – and took them back to the Granada Inn in Penticton, where they stayed for about a week.

During the drive back to Penticton, the girl testified, that the group had a “whole conversation” about their accurate ages.

The other man was said to be “edgy about it,” while Morin was not.

During her testimony, the girl said she and Morin had vaginal, oral and anal sex throughout the week in the motel. They also smoked marijuana and used crystal meth.

A couple of times, court heard, the girl was under the influence of drugs during intercourse.

After accessing her daughter’s Facebook account, the victim’s mother called police, who took the girl and her friend from the motel to a social worker.

“There was a reference (in the messages) to her getting to legal age, which they had talked about,” said Judge Austin Cullin, “And there was a reference to having sex ‘DL’ or on the ‘down low’ … in the meantime.”

The girl, who was said to have run away from home about 35 times, was admitted to the psychiatric ward at Kelowna General Hospital after "having a meldown" and wanting to return to Penticton.

At first, she refused to provide a statement to police, but eventually relented after being encouraged by family and police. Morin was arrested in September 2017.

Her friend testified she could not remember the events before or during her stay at the motel.

Defence provided no evidence, but instead called into question the girl’s credibility, arguing she “told police what they wanted to hear” from being under pressure.

But Cullin said the girl’s reluctance to testify, to an extent, supported her credibility.

Morin was also charged with one count of telecommunicating to lure a child under 16, but was acquitted after Cullin proved there was not enough evidence to demonstrate Morin was aware the girl was underage while communicating with her online.

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