A man convicted of sexually assaulting three teen boys in the 1970s and ’80s is deeply remorseful for his actions and has faced “a devastating challenge coming to terms with the person he is,” his lawyer said Wednesday in court.
Defence counsel Martin Finch spoke at the final sentencing hearing for Don Putt, 68, who received three months in prison on top of what he is already serving from his prior convictions.
Putt gained notoriety in October 2016 after he was caught in a sting in Chilliwack involving the vigilante group Creep Catchers.
The latest hearing, which took place in Abbotsford provincial court, involved an incident in Abbotsford on July 4, 1974 in which Putt – then 25 – fondled a 14-year-old boy.
The case went to trial in May of this year, and Putt was convicted of one count each of gross indecency and “indecent assault of a male on a male,” both of which are no longer in the criminal code.
The court heard that the incident took place when Putt was at the home of a friend and co-worker and wandered into the bedroom of his friend’s teenage son.
The boy was watching Fourth of July fireworks from the U.S. that he could see from his bedroom window. Putt came up behind the boy and fondled him for four or five minutes, Crown lawyer Eleasha Sabourin said.
At the time, the victim did not want to report the incident, because his father and Putt were friends, but it had a deep emotional and psychological impact on him over the years, Sabourin said.
The victim was compelled to come forward after he saw news reports about Putt being caught on video by Creep Catchers members. Putt had shown up at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chilliwack to meet up with who he thought was a 12-year-old boy.
The encounter was posted on YouTube. Putt later pleaded guilty to child luring and received a six-month sentence.
The attention also resulted in two brothers coming forward, saying they had been repeatedly molested by Putt in the 1980s, when they were young teens in Agassiz.
Speaking on Wednesday, Sabourin said the victim from the 1970s has harboured much guilt about not having reported his assault to the police at the time.
“Since becoming aware that there’s been other victims, he carries guilt because he worries that, because he didn’t report these matters, it has allowed for Mr. Putt to carry on sexual abuse towards other persons,” she said.
Finch said Putt would have pleaded guilty to the offence, but he has no recollection of it. However, he said his client is sorry that it happened and has had to come to terms with a “significant character defect” – his sexual misconduct toward young males.
Putt is a former District of Kent alderman and a respected member of the Agassiz community who belonged to various service clubs. Several letters of support on Putt’s behalf were provided to the court on Wednesday.
Finch said Putt’s behaviour has cost him family relationships and destroyed his reputation.
But Finch said Putt is a model prisoner who is involved in Bible courses, a food prep program and counselling services – among others – and is working hard to address his issues.
The lawyer recommended to the judge that Putt serve an additional one to three months in prison, while Sabourin suggested that a term of three to five months would be more appropriate.
Judge Kenneth Skilnick agreed with Sabourin, and said Putt would be given no credit for time served in pre-trial custody.