A Burnaby art dealer was sentenced to 11 years in prison yesterday for sex tourism crimes against children in Cambodia and Colombia as well as importing child pornography.
The sentence is the longest handed out under Canada’s sex-tourism laws.
Kenneth Klassen, wearing a grey sports coat and tan slacks, stood up prior to sentencing and offered a brief apology to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen.
Klassen had pleaded guilty to 14 counts of sex with underage girls and one count of importing pornography. Prosecutors wanted 12 years, while defence argued for a term of five to six years.
Cullen said the crimes were a “gross violation” of the natural imperative to protect children.
Aggravating factors in the judge’s sentencing were the vulnerability of the young girls and the videotaping of the offences.
Outside the Law Courts, Brian McConaghy, a former RCMP officer and founder of the Ratanak Foundation (a non-profit society that cares for exploited children in Cambodia) warned Klassen’s sentence would not curb sex tourism.
“For the hardcore guys who hunt overseas for children … this is not a particular deterrent. The drive to do this is fairly powerful.”
Klassen was arrested in 2004 and charged in 2007 with 35 counts under Canada’s sex-tourism laws.