James Ping Wong seemed to have it all in the summer of 2010.
Wong and his wife of almost 10 years had a year-old daughter and a nice home in Cole Harbour, and he held a good job with a multinational company.
But his life came crashing down that August, when he was charged with groping a 13-year-old girl he had hired to help him with his daughter in the evenings, while his wife was at work.
Further investigation led police to arrest him again in February 2011 for having about 100 images of child pornography on a computer they had seized for analysis the previous summer.
After spending about three weeks in jail, Wong convinced a judge to free him on bail. His criminal activity only escalated and he ended up back behind bars again last June for numerous breaches of his release conditions.
And police weren’t done yet. An examination of three computers found in his possession revealed that they had been stolen from a neighbour’s house in December 2010 and that Wong had used them to rebuild his collection of child pornography.
The 45-year-old man was sentenced Friday to five years in prison. He had pleaded guilty earlier to 10 charges – sexual interference with a minor, luring a child, break and enter, two counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of breaching his bail conditions.
“When you step back and look at the sequence of events from August 2010 through to June 2011, I would suggest that you almost marvel at the way in which Mr. Wong’s life seems to have gone so completely off the rails,” Crown attorney Paul Carver said in Dartmouth provincial court.
The man was so determined to have sex with the 13-year-old that he used his own daughter as a prop to get her in a vulnerable situation, Carver told the court.
Wong joked to the girl that he was a pervert but said he was not dangerous and wouldn’t touch her or go near her. He said he would only look at her out of the corner of his eye.
What the girl didn’t know was that Wong was a convicted sex offender, having received a one-year jail sentence in 1992 for a sexual assault with a weapon involving a 17-year-old girl.
The 13-year-old babysat for Wong for just two evenings. She turned down offers of alcohol and a shopping trip to a lingerie store. He grabbed her bum and breasts and tried to tickle her crotch. He put a hand down the back of her pants while she was drying his daughter after a bath.
The girl e-mailed her sister-in-law to tell her what had happened. That woman contacted police.
In subsequent text messages, Wong begged the girl not to report him and said he had considered committing suicide.
Wong tearfully confessed to his wife and admitted to his in-laws that he was pedophile.
In a victim impact statement, the girl, now 15, said Wong’s actions robbed her of her childhood innocence.
Judge Jim Burrill praised the girl for having “the nerve to stand up to the pedophile that sits before the court today.”
“She’s a hero in the sense that she has reduced the risk … that Mr. Wong would harm another child or anyone else in the community,” Burrill said.
“He has been found out.”
Wong compiled an extensive criminal record as a young man, with numerous convictions for break and enter and others for fraud, forgery, possession of a stolen credit card, assault with a weapon and breaching probation.
He stayed out of trouble for 10 years before committing the crimes against the babysitter.
Wong refused to undergo a sexual offender assessment before sentencing. A psychiatrist who reviewed his file made a provisional diagnosis of pedophilia, hebephilia (a preference for individuals in the early years of puberty) and antisocial personality disorder with psychopathic traits.
The doctor concluded Wong is a moderate to high risk to commit further violent or sexual offences.
Carver showed the judge samples of the child pornography found on Wong’s computers and pointed out that in several images the children were smiling while being abused.
The prosecutor noted that Wong told his wife that the babysitter smiled when he touched her, an assertion denied by the girl.
“When you have smiling children engaged in sexual activity, it would seem to Mr. Wong that everything’s OK, and that’s what makes him truly dangerous and truly a risk to the community,” Carver said.
Defence lawyer Ken Greer said abuse of alcohol and marijuana and depression issues reduced his client’s ability to resist his underlying temptations.
“This is an individual who is not without hope,” Greer said. “There is a person here who certainly understands there is a problem and that he needs treatment.”
Greer asked the court to give Wong extra credit for his more than 11 months of remand time because of the abuse he was subjected to at the Dartmouth jail. Wong had feces and urine thrown at him and was pushed and shoved and threatened to the point that he was segregated for his own protection.
“I’ll forever deeply regret inflicting so much pain on everyone,” Wong told the court.
“Although my actions were inexcusable and unexplainable, please realize that I am truly sorry. Not a day goes by that I don’t think how stupid and wrong I was.
“There’s no punishment that you can hand me right now that will be any worse than the suffering I’ve brought on myself. I’ve lost my beautiful wife, my wonderful baby girl, my family, my friends, my house, my job, my dog. I’ve lost everything in my life.”
The Crown recommended that Wong be sentenced to six years and one month on top of his remand time, while the defence suggested a prison term of between 3½ and four years.
The judge ruled that a five-year sentence was appropriate. He ordered Wong to provide his DNA to a national databank and to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Wong also won’t be allowed to possess firearms and must stay away from parks, playgrounds, schools and other places frequented by children.
“While he expressed remorse for his victim and the harm that he caused his family, I got the distinct sense that he was most sorry for his own personal loss,” Burrill said of Wong.
“This court hopes that the message that goes from this courtroom loud and clear today is that if you treat a child as an object for your sexual gratification, you will risk severe sanctions from this court.
“Regardless of what sentence I impose here today, the accused will one day be released into the community. It’s the hope of this court that when he is, that the risk of (reoffending) has been reduced through the sanctions imposed and the treatment that he will be offered in the federal institution.”