Sexual Interference

Sexual Interference

The offence of sexual interference is outlined in section 151 of the Criminal Code.

The offence of sexual interference is committed when an adult touches any part of the body of a person under the age of consent, for a sexual purpose. The touch can be direct or indirect, with a part of the body or an object. In Canada the age of consent is 16. An individual under the age of consent cannot legally consent to sexual activity with an adult.

Examples

Person A is an adult and person B is a child. Person A touches person B with his hand for a sexual purpose.

Person A is an adult and person B is a 15 year old teenager. Person A and person B have a sexual relationship. Person B is younger than the age of consent and therefore cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship with person A.

Cases

R. v. R.H., [2022] ONCJ 64

In R. v R.H., the offender was charged with sexual interference after his step-granddaughter told her mother that her grandfather had made her touch his penis. The complainant was a young child when the incident occurred.

R. v. P.F., [2022] ONCJ 34

In R. v. P.F., the offender was charged with sexual interference after he sexually touched the young daughter of the woman he was in a relationship with.

Offence Specific Defences

No Sexual Activity

In situations where an individual has been falsely accused of sexual interference, they may argue that sexual activity did not occur. If sexual activity did not occur, the accused cannot be convicted.

Honest but Mistaken Belief

An individual who has been charged with sexual interference may use the defence of honest but mistaken belief if they genuinely believed the young person was an adult. The accused must demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the young person prior to engaging in sexual activity. An accused who was reckless or willfully blind as to whether the young person was old enough to engage in sexual activity cannot use this defence.

Lack of Intent

To gain a conviction for sexual interference, the Crown must prove that the accused touched the young person for a sexual purpose. If the accused did not touch the young person for a sexual purpose, they cannot be convicted. For example, a parent touching their child’s genitals to clean them in the bath would not be considered sexual interference because the parent is not touching the child for a sexual purpose.

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