Jason Zerbin, the vocalist for the band Zerbin and a former pastor, has been given a three-month conditional sentence followed by 18 months of probation for the sexual assault of a woman he was a “guiding figure” for.
The sentencing by Justice Ted Gouge in the Provincial Court of B.C. for the May 2015 sexual assault says the victim joined the church where Zerbin was a pastor. The two became close because of their faith and interest in music. The ruling says the two met when she was 16 or 17.
At the time of the sexual assault, Zerbin was no longer the pastor of the church, when he was 28 and the victim was 18.
Due to a publication ban on the court case, CHEK News is omitting details of the sexual assault that may make it possible to identify the victim.
The victim’s impact statement says following the sexual assault, she left the church and lost her faith. She is dealing with depression and suicidal ideation as a result.
During sentencing, Zerbin’s lawyer sought a conditional discharge while the Crown counsel asked for a three-month conditional sentence.
A conditional discharge would mean that Zerbin has to follow the terms the judge set out for a determined length of time and that he would not have a criminal conviction entered, provided he followed the terms. A conditional sentence means that he would have a criminal conviction but would serve his sentence in the community, subject to court-imposed orders.
In arguing for the conditional discharge, Zerbin’s lawyer noted that he has to travel internationally for his work and a criminal record would be an impediment to that.
Gouge, in his consideration of the arguments for the conditional discharge, noted the sexual assault was less intrusive than others, but said he gave more weight to the victim impact statement. He later added that it is important to consider the impact the victim suffered.
“In my view, a discharge is not appropriate in this case because it would not be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender,” Gouge wrote.
For his three-month conditional sentence, which started March 30, Zerbin’s conditions include that he must report to a conditional sentence supervisor, maintain a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily, not possess or consume intoxicating substances, have no contact with the victim and must not be within 10 metres of the victim.
During his 18-month probation, the conditions include that he must report to a probation officer, attend any counselling program the probation refers him to, and again mentions that he is to have no contact with the victim, and not be within 10 metres of her.
Additionally, Zerbin must comply with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act for 10 years and he must provide a DNA sample.
Zerbin’s lawyer argued against him being registered. The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that automatically registering all people convicted of a sex offence is unconstitutional, and courts are to stop automatically registering in October. Due to the Supreme Court ruling, and him not being an “increased risk of reoffending,” Zerbin’s lawyer argued that he should not have to register.
Gouge wrote that since the change doesn’t come into effect until October, Zerbin would be registered, though he can appeal to a higher court to be removed from the registry.
CHEK News reached out to Zerbin’s lawyer for comment, who said “the matter is under appeal and we will not provide any comment.”
With files from Kori Sidaway.