Sailing Coach Sentenced for Sexual Abuse
Published on October 14th, 2016
by David Lea, Oakville Beaver
An Oakville/Burlington former sailing coach, convicted of sexually abused multiple youths, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years probation.
Sean Hewson, 34, pled guilty on March 15, 2016, to sexual exploitation, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
He was in Burlington Court today (Oct. 14) fore sentencing by Justice D.H. Harris.
Hewson was arrested in 2014 after seven male youths contacted Halton police about alleged incidents of sexual abuse dating back to 2003.
Initially, Hewson faced 21 charges, including nine counts of sexual assault, eight counts of sexual interference, three counts of invitation to sexual touching and sexual exploitation.
Hewson pled guilty to three charges related to a trio of victims who were 13 years old at the time of the assaults.
The victims’ identities are protected by a publication ban.
The Crown withdrew all other charges.
Hewson had worked for the Burlington Sailing and Boating Club and numerous other organizations from the YMCAs in Oakville and Burlington, to the Red Cross, and the Oakville and Bronte yacht clubs.
The agreed-upon statement of facts indicated Hewson established a friendship with one boy in 2006.
The two would watch movies alone together and on one occasion in 2007, Hewson sexually abused him.
The terrible impact the incident had on that boy was clear from his victim impact statement presented to the court Aug. 9.
“Before I met Sean Hewson, I was a happy person. I’m told I was a funny, smart and outgoing child,” said the victim on the witness stand.
“Over the period of abuse, I recoiled, I became a quiet introvert and my outlook on life and the world was severely darkened. My attitude in high school caused me to alienate a number of my closest childhood friends. It has taken years of reflection and personal growth for me to begin to overcome the social anxiety that I developed as a result of my abuse. Something that I grapple with on a daily basis now is that I am without a doubt, the most negative, pessimistic and cynical of all my friends.”
Hewson molested and sexually abused a second 13-year-old boy in 2009.
A third 13-year-old was chatting with Hewson online in 2006 when Hewson made a sexual invitation.
Crown Attorney Harutyun Apel asked Justice Harris to sentence Hewson to three years in prison.
Hewson’s lawyer Kaley Hepburn argued 12-15 months incarceration was more appropriate.
In crafting the sentence, Justice Harris said he took a number of aggravating factors into account.
These included the number of victims; the impact on those victims; the fact Hewson groomed one particular victim in preparation for the sexual abuse; the graphic nature of the offences; and, that Hewson used his position of trust as a sailing coach to prey on the youths.
“When the effects of sexual victimization were briefly explained to him (Hewson), he related that he was ‘sad to hear of the long-term effects on the boys.’ He added ‘I thought I was helping them reach a climax…I did not think I was hurting them sexually.’
In further discussion, Hewson acknowledged that his leadership qualities made it easy to manipulate his victims,” wrote Justice Harris in his judgment.
“He justified his activities believing that ‘they also wanted it and were OK with it.’”
The judge also considered mitigating factors, including Hewson’s decision to plead guilty, which Justice Harris took as an acceptance of responsibility as well as an expression of remorse and something that spared victims a lengthy trial.
Other considerations included the fact that Hewson lacks a prior criminal record and has strong family supports in the community.
As part of his probation conditions, Hewson was directed not to communicate with any of the victims.
He is also restricted from going within 20 metres of any place where he knows the victims may be within the next 10 years.
Hewson must attend and actively participate in all the assessment, counselling or rehabilitative programs to which his probation officer directs him — including the Sexual Offender Relapse Prevention program.
He also received a 10-year prohibition from working or being a volunteer in any capacity that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards boys under the age of 16.
Another 10-year prohibition prevents Hewson from communicating with boys under the age of 16, except in the presence of a responsible adult, who is aware of his crimes or incidental contact in the course of his employment.