Garth Bent, former youth pastor and camp counselor for St. Bride’s Anglican Church in Clarkson, Ontario has been convicted and sentenced for sex crimes committed in the 1980s. This is his second conviction.
A former Mississauga youth pastor and camp director has received a conditional sentence after being found guilty of an indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy 35 years ago.
It’s the second time that Garth Bent, 58, a former camp counsellor at Ontario Pioneer Camp in Algonquin Park and former youth pastor at St. Bride’s Anglican Church in Clarkson, has been convicted of assaults on young boys dating back several years ago.
In the most recent conviction on May 29, Bent received a 12-month conditional sentence in Brampton, the first six months of which will be spent effectively under house arrest, and must register as a sex offender for life.
Court heard that over a 10-day period in the summer of 1982, Bent, then 22 and working at the pioneer camp as a canoe trip leader, assaulted the then-13-year-old boy by touching his genitals on two occasions while the two were in a tent.
The victim, now 47 and married with children, didn’t come forward with allegations until 2014. His victim impact statement chronicles the effect of the “sexual molestation” on his life which has included trouble with relationships, anxiety, and resorting to alcohol to “deal with internal emotional turmoil,” Justice Casey Hill said in his ruling.
The victim said he felt compelled to come forward and tell his story.
“Too often these situations are not reported, too often the accused gets off on a technicality, too often it’s just simply too difficult for the victim to relive the events. If someone out there hears about my experience with Garth Bent and sees that I had the courage to stand up and tell my story, conviction or no conviction, then I truly believe I have done something very valuable for our society. This makes me feel good and begins my healing,” he told the court.
“How did Garth Bent impact my life? My experience with Garth Bent sits right in the front of my mind every day. The memory is horrible. I’ve tried very hard not to let it impact my life in a horrible way. It’s a battle that I will continue to fight on a daily basis. Maybe if the punishment is severe enough for Garth Bent’s past actions on me and others it may send a message to those who prey on children and hopefully they will think twice before they act and impact someone’s life forever.”
Back in 2009, Bent pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault of a male person and one count of attempted indecent assault. The assaults, committed against boys aged 13 to 15 between 1981 and 1983, occurred in the context of Bent’s church or camp activities, court heard.
“The indecent assaults generally involved fondling and masturbation of the victims,” Hill said, noting Bent received an 18-month conditional sentence for those assaults.
“In the present case, the sexually inappropriate touching of the young victim was intrusive, frightening, and repeated by a senior individual in a position of trust in the context of a wilderness canoe trip where the vulnerable victim was away from his parents,” Hill said.