Their pictures and “pet” names flash up on the cell phones when they call each other.
He’s “Baby Boy” and she’s “Baby Girl.”
He’s 35 years old and she’s just 14.
On Monday, in Campbell River provincial court, Crown prosecutor John Boccabella characterized Russell Modeste’s alleged relationship with the teenaged girl as “extreme and repulsive.”
Modeste, who’s being held in custody in Victoria, is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference with a person under 16, and breach of a court order.
Even though he’s been charged, RCMP continue to investigate, said Boccabella, because the girl, who cannot be named, became pregnant and miscarried this past winter.
“There’s widespread belief Mr. Modeste is responsible (for the pregnancy),” he told Judge Brian Klaver during the bail hearing.
The two apparently met on the Facebook social media website. She was 13 years old at the time and he wrote that he was 20.
The girl, in statements provided to police, denied having a sexual relationship with Modeste. Others are unsure and say the two slept in the same room together; they’ve also been seen holding hands, kissing, and witnesses allege he’s repeated groped her buttocks.
Authorities first became aware of the two on Jan. 20, when police were called to assist the Ministry of Children and Families in implementing a safety plan for the girl.
At the same time, the girl’s caregiver wanted Modeste removed from the home. He was arrested outside the residence as he was seen walking hand-in-hand with the girl.
Modeste was taken to the Evergreen Shelter after he had signed an agreement to have no contact with the girl. However, it is alleged the two were in frequent contact with each other, calling and texting, after Modeste’s arrest.
One of the girl’s instructors also became concerned when the youth was seen repeatedly sending text messages while at school. The girl allegedly told the woman she was sending messages to “her boyfriend.”
The woman also informed authorities the girl has some learning difficulties.
Boccabella said Modeste’s original bail order should be cancelled and he be held in custody until trial.
Defence lawyer James Hormoth asked the judge to release Modeste on bail with strict conditions. Modeste is a member of the Cowichan First Nation and he could move back to Duncan to reside with family.
Hormoth also said Modeste would abide by a no-go to Campbell River order other than to attend court, and he would also not use any electronic communication devices.
“The problem, as I see it, is it’s almost impossible to prevent contact through social media,” said Judge Klaver, as he cancelled Modeste’s bail. “There are no conditions I could place him on that would assure no contact.”
Modeste is due back in court, by video, on June 18.