Nova Scotia fast food restaurant manager jailed in Alberta for indecent call with teenage employee: ‘His work life was hell’

A former Nova Scotia man convicted of luring a Halifax child in 2007 was sentenced to four months in jail and two years probation for making an indecent phone call to a 15-year-old restaurant worker Alberta fast food restaurant he ran. .

Robert Lee Porter was 35 and ran a restaurant in Taber when he texted and then spoke to the young woman on the phone at 1:30 a.m. on July 2, 2021, asking her for sex acts. Her name is banned from publication and the judge refers to the teenager as C throughout her ruling.

“In discussing Mr. Porter’s moral responsibility, I must take into account that he was C’s employer and as such had a duty to protect her and ensure her safety at work. Instead, he used the authority he gained in the workplace to abuse and sexually exploit her,” Lethbridge Provincial Court Judge Paul Gale Pharo said in his written ruling. dated October 25.

“I recognize that he was under a lot of stress and pressure caused by the pandemic at the time. I also agree that he had to seek help for his mental health after the incident. However, no evidence has been presented that Mr. Porter suffered from a mental health condition at the time of the incident that could have contributed to his actions. I therefore find his moral responsibility high.

“Moaning on the Phone”

Porter made all sorts of sexual comments to the teen, then asked her to stay on the phone until he masturbated to climax.

“C could hear Mr. Porter moaning on the phone,” the judge said.

“She was on the phone for about 45 minutes because she feared for her job and her safety. C heard Mr. Porter ejaculate. Mr. Porter then changed the conversation to his job duties and performance.

Now 37, Porter is single with no dependents.

“He was born in the United States but moved with his family to Nova Scotia when he was a baby,” Pharo said.

“He has dual nationality and passports. Some of his family members live in the United States and others in Nova Scotia. He has contacts and visits them when he can. He had a good upbringing and there was no drug addiction or physical abuse at home. He rarely drinks alcohol and has never abused drugs.

Porter earned his GED in 2009, then earned a degree in business administration and management from Nova Scotia Community College.

“He has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 18,” Judge said. “He started working for his most recent employer in 2014 in Nova Scotia as an assistant manager.”

“He was stressed”

He rose through the ranks and was sent to the fast food joint’s Taber location in the spring of 2021 to help a new manager there.

“He had been stressed because it had been a difficult year and a half running the restaurant trying to maintain revenue streams as well as dealing with employees with periodic layoffs and recalls,” Pharo said.

On the evening of the indecent phone call, he worked until 10 p.m., then returned to his hotel room, but was unable to sleep.

“He says he has no way to explain his behavior towards C,” Judge said.

“The next day he felt completely sick of what he did because he realized the clumsiness of his actions and the effect it would have on C.”

Porter drove about two and a half hours to a Vermilion hospital and checked himself in due to suicidal thoughts, the court heard.

“He was discharged from hospital after several days and started taking counseling to deal with the stress and anxiety issues he was experiencing,” the judge said.

Porter told the court he recognized that this type of phone call was completely inappropriate and that he regretted his actions with the teenager.

“She was ashamed”

The young woman told the court she was “extremely upset and worried” after the call with Porter.

“She said she was ashamed and couldn’t sleep and was hiding under her covers because she was scared,” the judge said.

In a victim impact statement, the teenager said she couldn’t even eat or go to restaurants.

“She said she couldn’t have a regular conversation with men because of this incident with Mr. Porter. She said finding a new job scared her because of him,” Pharo said.

“She wrote that she was afraid to meet Mr. Porter somewhere in Lethbridge. She said she felt she couldn’t trust men anymore. She said her professional life was hell. She said she had to go see a doctor.

Porter, who was from Digby County when he lived in Nova Scotia, was 22 when he was convicted in 2007 of illegally using a computer to communicate with a Halifax child under the age of 14. for the purpose of facilitating sexual touching and indecent exposure. .

“He received a one-year suspended sentence order,” Pharo said.

“The suspended sentence does not seem to have deterred him”

The Alberta Crown wanted Porter jailed for six to nine months, followed by two years probation.

“The Crown submits that specific deterrence is required in this case for this particular defendant,” the judge said.

“The Crown submits that the reason for this is that the previous conviction for luring where he received a suspended sentence order does not appear to have deterred him from committing this offence.”

Porter’s attorney said he should get a suspended sentence of 12 to 15 months, followed by two years probation.

“The defense argues that Mr. Porter had been under extreme stress trying to run the restaurant given the challenges of COVID,” Pharo said.

“It is argued that this was an isolated act that was out of Mr Porter’s character. The defense says Mr Porter has worked in the restaurant industry his entire professional life, has been around a lot of young female employees and has had no prior issues.

The judge concluded that “a suspended sentence would not be a proportionate sentence in this case”.

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