Defence appeal from global 4 year sentence imposed in relation to sexual interference convictions. Victims were 8 and 11 when the abuse started. Multiple incidents of touching in the breast and vagina area. The girls were the accused’s niece and his best friend’s daughter. Issue regarding whether trial judge erred in characterizing the offences as major sexual assaults.

Held: Appeal dismissed.

“Repeated acts of sexual touching of a young child can constitute a major sexual assault … [these assaults] could realistically and foreseeably lead to emotional harm. A major sexual assault such as this is inherently harmful … Direct evidence of harm is not always a pre-requisite to establishing a serious sexual assault, R. v. Merrick, 2012 ABCA 310 at para. 12.”

J. Ruttan, Defence Counsel