A Chilliwack provincial court heard Wednesday that the man convicted of sexually assaulting two young brothers in Agassiz in the 1980s is afraid for his safety if he is sentenced to federal time.
The sentencing hearing for Don Putt was scheduled to wrap up May 31, but Judge Wendy Young ordered a pre-sentence report (PSR), in part because of the concerns that stem from the “infamy” the case has received, according to his lawyer.
Putt garnered considerable media attention when he was caught by the anti-pedophile vigilante group Creep Catchers in a 2016 sting where he thought he was meeting an underage boy.
“You are very concerned about his safety – if he goes to a federal institution his life could be in danger?” Young asked Putt’s lawyer Martin Finch.
“Yes,” Finch responded.
Neither Finch nor Crown counsel Grant Lindsey requested a PSR, but Young said she thought it would be helpful to address “what safeguards are in place in the provincial and federal system.” Young also ordered a psychiatric assessment be included in the PSR.
A former District of Kent alderman, the now 67-year-old Putt pleaded guilty April 18 to two counts of sexual assault from 1984 and 1986. Over months and years when he was in his 30s, Putt repeatedly engaged in all manner of sexual activity with J.W. and before that his brother D.W. The boys’ family were neighbours of Putt. They did babysitting for him and worked in his raspberry and corn fields in the 1980s.
The victims’ names cannot be used because of a publication ban.
Sentencing on this case began May 12 at which time Putt apologized to J.W., who was in the courtroom. J.W. responded: “Apology not accepted.”
Crown counsel asked for four years in jail, while Putt’s lawyer Martin Finch asked the court for two years.
Putt remained in custody on the above matter, having already completed a six-month sentence for the 2016 child luring incident. Putt was caught on video on Oct. 7 when he showed up to the Vedder Crossing McDonald’s to meet who he thought was a 12-year-old boy only to be met by members of the controversial vigilante group who posted the encounter on YouTube.
After the Creep Catchers video and the subsequent publicity, J.W. and D.W. came forward leading to the charges from the 1980s.
And not long after that came a charge of gross indecency and one count of “indecent assault of a male on a male” (no longer in the criminal code) from the early 1970s in Abbotsford. To those charges he pleaded not guilty, but on May 23 he was found guilty by a judge in Abbotsford provincial court.
That crime involved one incident of touching a 13-year-old boy underneath clothing, lasting between three and five minutes. While Putt pleaded guilty to the charges from the 1980s and the luring in 2016, he pleaded not guilty to the 1970s charge because he doesn’t remember it happening, his lawyer said.
“Mr. Putt has no recollection of the event,” Finch said Wednesday.
He is next scheduled in court July 19 for sentencing, as long as the PSR has been completed.