A gay Vancouver man will spend the next 20 years listed in Canada’s sexual offender registry and serve 18 months probation for having mutually agreed upon sex with a 15-year-old youth he met on Grindr.
The youth, now 17 and openly gay, signed up on Grindr but lied about his age during registration in order to use the smartphone cruising application, the Court heard during sentencing. Grindr users must be at least 17 to sign up.
“The complainant was legally unable to consent,” Crown prosecutor Michael Mahoney told the court. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government raised the age of consent from 14 to 16 in 2009.
Gordon Brent Tynan, 56, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on Oct 26. Neither the Crown nor defence sought jail time.
The new age-of-consent rules force judges to penalize and label gay men as sex offenders for having sex with anyone under 16, whether it’s mutually agreed upon or not.
Gay activist Andrew Brett lobbied against raising the age of consent. He says it’s cases such as Tynan’s that show how the law has gutted judges’ ability to use their own discretion on the particular circumstances of a case.
“It’s better to have a judge make these decisions rather than having hard rules no matter what the circumstances,” Brett says.
“The ability to give informed consent isn’t age-related at all,” Dr John Lamont, then-president of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, said at a Senate hearing in 2008. “In my clinical practice, I’ve met 12-year-olds that are capable of giving informed consent, and I’ve met 20- and 30-year-olds who I’ve struggled with their ability to give informed consent.”
Tynan was sentenced by BC Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowden on Nov 4. Bowden agreed with defence lawyer Richard Peck’s suggestion that “there was certainly a mutuality of agreement” between Tynan and the youth. He called the case “unique in many respects.”
Tynan met the youth three times between Aug 2009 and April 2010, after they made contact on Grindr.
Tynan first picked up the youth from his North Shore home. Together, they drove to Tynan’s Coal Harbour condominium and had sex before Tynan drove the youth to work. There was no conversation about the youth’s age, Bowden heard.
In late August, the pair again hooked up through Grindr. Tynan picked up the youth, and they went back to his condo, kissed and had anal and oral sex.
It was after that, the preliminary record says, that the youth said he felt guilty and told Tynan he was younger than the older man believed. But the youth didn’t know if Tynan heard him.
The youth then invited Tynan to his house where they had sex, before his mother came home and found Tynan naked in her son’s bathroom. That’s when the youth came out to his mother.
“[The youth] was two months shy of being able to legally consent,” Peck said, adding that email and text messages show the youth had contact with other older men.
Tynan, a real estate developer and trained lawyer, was arrested by the sex crimes unit of the North Vancouver RCMP on April 13, 2010, and was charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault. Bowden stayed the other charges but ordered Tynan to submit a DNA sample.
During sentencing submissions, Crown and defence suggested either a suspended sentence or a conditional discharge with possible community service as punishment. They agreed jail time would serve no purpose.
Tynan would not comment on the sentence.
The court heard that the youth continues to be a star athlete and student. His name is covered by a statutory publication ban.