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B.C. musician and former pastor sentenced for sexual assault

The Victoria provincial courthouse as seen on November 3, 2021. (CTV News) The Victoria provincial courthouse as seen on November 3, 2021. (CTV News)
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Warning: This story contains a description of a sexual assault.

A Vancouver Island musician and former church pastor will serve three months of house arrest, followed by 18 months of probation, after he was convicted of one count of sexual assault.

Jason Jonathan Eric Zerbin, 35, was sentenced last week for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman whom he met while he was a pastor and music director at God's Garden Church in Victoria.

Zerbin was 28 years old at the time of the offence and his role as a salaried pastor at the church had ended, according to a provincial court judge's sentencing decision published Friday.

Judge Ted Gouge found that Zerbin attended a picnic with church members in May 2015 at a beach in Sooke, B.C.

During the course of the evening, Zerbin laid down under a blanket with the young woman and put his hand on her hip, then "down the front of her pants to her pubic area and rubbed her genitals through her underwear," Gouge wrote.

The woman "rolled away from him, and he stopped touching her immediately."

Three months later, Zerbin wrote an email apologizing to the victim and her parents, expressing shame, remorse and "a depth of embarrassment," according to a transcript from the court record.

The judge convicted Zerbin of one count of sexual assault on May 10, 2022.

A victim impact statement provided to the court described the woman's loss of faith and onset of anxiety and depression in the years since the assault.

The Crown prosecutor in the case sought a three-month conditional sentence, followed by a period of probation. Zerbin's defence lawyer argued for a conditional discharge and probation.

Zerbin’s lawyer also sought to exempt him from having to provide a DNA sample and register with the federal sex offender registry, saying his registration would disproportionately affect him by restricting his ability to travel for business.

Zerbin is the proprietor of a music recording business, the judge wrote. The business requires him to travel internationally, especially to the United States, according to his lawyer.

The judge declined the exemption request and ordered Zerbin to comply with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act for 10 years.

Among the conditions of Zerbin's three-month sentence are that he remain at home between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily, and not possess or consume any intoxicating substances without a medical prescription.

He is also ordered to remain in B.C. unless he obtains permission to leave the province from either the court or his conditional sentence supervisor.

Zerbin is not allowed within 10 metres of the victim. He must leave her presence immediately, without words or gestures, if he encounters her and is not to have any direct or indirect communication with her. 

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