A Richmond RCMP officer convicted of exposing his genitals to Vancouver private schoolgirls should go to prison for two years, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Monday.
“It is very much a breach of the trust the public would expect of a person holding that position,” Crown prosecutor Geoff Baragar told Justice Catherine Wedge Oct. 24 at a sentencing hearing.
The incidents happened while Andrew James Seangio, 37, was driving through Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood in early 2019.
His lawyer, Glen Orris, said six months was an appropriate sentence under various legal principles. He suggested that sentence be conditional to be served in the community or probation.
Seangio was convicted by a jury on a 10-count indictment, including three counts of exposing his genital organs to people under 16 for a sexual purpose. The other seven counts involve allegations of committing an indecent act in public.
The allegations include two undercover officers dressed as schoolgirls; the sting was set up after police were alerted to the issue.
Most of the events in question took place close to the all-girl private schools Little Flower Academy and York House School.
Baragar told Wedge that the girls’ victim impact statements said they were dismayed to find out the man involved was an RCMP officer.
“Each now feels less safe to walk alone and more distrustful, especially of strange men,” Baragar said.
In the case of the schoolgirls, Baragar said, Seangio offered no explanation. In the case of the female officers, “he simply denied he was masturbating.”
Orris read out a letter from Seangio in which he expressed remorse and a "sincerest" apology. He said the situation has been hard for all involved, especially the victims and the trauma that has affected their lives.
"He took the stand and said, 'They [the victims] were mistaken, this wasn't me.'" Baragar responded. "He is now expressing remorse and sorrow. This puts into question his sincerity on the stand."
"This letter shows no insight into how this came about," Baragar told the court.
The trial evidence
During the trial, Baragar told the court in his final submissions on July 5 that while no one identified Seangio as the driver of the vehicle, the facts lead to the conclusion in multiple instances that he was driving the vehicle in question.
He said victims got partial or full licence plate numbers, that video cameras caught images of his car, that the sexual behaviour of the driver was the same in each instance and that the vehicle sped away when some victims or police officers attempted to see the driver.
In each case, Baragar said, the vehicle would approach slowly with the passenger side near the victim. Court heard the driver used one hand to touch himself, with the other hand on the steering wheel.
Baragar said cellphone records put Seangio’s phone in the area of the incidents at the time they occurred just as video surveillance caught his vehicle.
“It defies coincidence that another black SUV would be in the same area approaching schoolgirls in a similar manner,” Baragar said.
The Crown lawyer told the court a police officer in an undercover operation saw similar behaviour from the SUV driver. The court heard police followed Seangio as he left the Richmond detachment for Vancouver, on March 7, 2019.
Orris told the court July 4 his client “has not been involved in any illegal act.”
Orris told the jury before Seangio was sworn in to testify that his client was not picked out of photo lineups shown to complainants.
Once Seangio took the stand, Orris asked, “Have you ever exposed yourself or masturbated while in your car?”
“No, I have not,” Seangio said.
Seangio was employed with the Richmond RCMP detachment and also worked for military police reserves out of Richmond’s Colonel Sherman Armoury. He has lost both those positions, Orris said.
He said he drove to and from those places via Granville Street or Oak Street, occasionally detouring through Shaughnessy streets when traffic became heavy. He said he did this to save time or to take a call or a text on his phone.
He lived in downtown Vancouver at the time of the events.
He confirmed he had a black Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle.
Orris said extensive media coverage should be a mitigating factor in Wedge's sentence, a part of the denunciatory aspect. Barager said he is unaware of any legal precedent noting media coverage as a mitigating factor for sentencing.
The identities of the complainants are covered by a publication ban.