Longtime Whistler and Pemberton resident Roger Molinaro has been found guilty in Pemberton Provincial Court of sexually assaulting two minors, both family friends, over a period of years.
Molinaro, 51, was arrested in April 2020 after police launched an investigation receiving information regarding historical allegations of child sexual assault. The incidents allegedly took place between 2007 and 2018, according to the RCMP, and involved two minors with close ties to the Molinaro family and who often spent time at their Pemberton home, including for sleepovers. Parents of the complainants described Molinaro like a second father to their children.
In her decision, Judge Patricia Janzen said she found the testimony of both complainants to be “very credible” and consistent with the memory of children recalling traumatic events.
“I would describe Complainant 2 as an exceptionally careful witness. The care she took to be precise about what she remembered bolstered her testimony. On many occasions she carefully distinguished what she thought or surmised what happened from her recollection,” Janzen said.
In comparison, Janzen said Molinaro, “in his zeal to deny everything that could render the allegations of the complainants even possible,” often testified “in absolute terms and was unprepared to admit what was both clearly possible and unlikely to be specifically remembered by him one way or the other many years later." She cited the examples of Molinaro claiming he had only ever been alone in his home with either complainant on one occasion, or that he had “never, ever” been the sole babysitter of children other than his own, even for a short period.
“In the context of the amount of time the families spent together, that was implausible. He was not prepared to acknowledge that it was possible that he could simply no longer recollect it. As he put it, ‘I’m going to go with what I know,’” Janzen relayed.
That testimony was also countered by Molinaro’s now estranged wife, who was called by the defence, and who reported being out of the house in the early mornings six days a week to go jogging or for a workout.
“He rarely if ever acknowledged anything that could be seen as contrary to his interests,” Janzen said.
Molinaro now faces sentencing on seven counts: sexual interference of a person under 14; invitation to sexual touching under 14; invitation to sexual touching under 16; two counts of sexual interference of a person under 16; and two counts of sexual assault.
A date for sentencing will be affixed on Dec. 7.
A publication ban is in place to protect the identity of the victims.
Pique will have more on the decision in next week's print edition.