HAMPTON – Sitting with only his defence lawyer at his side, half a world away from his native Thailand, Ekalak Moonkusol showed no expression when a provincial court judge found him guilty in Hampton court Wednesday of three counts of sexual assault – two of them including crimes against young boys.
Moonkusol, 35, now of Moncton, holds a landed immigrant status in Canada and because of his conviction, Judge Andrew LeMesurier immediately remanded him to jail until his sentencing on April 28 in Hampton.
“I can tell you I’m not going to release him,” LeMesurier said. “He’s looking at a lengthy period of incarceration. There’s a risk … he could flee.”
Moonkusol, who goes by the name Kenneth Steeves in Canada, first came to the Sussex region with his now-estranged wife about a decade ago after meeting her while she held a teaching position in Thailand.
Prior to sentencing, LeMesurier outlined details of the testimony given by Moonkusol’s three victims. The judge ruled their testimony to be “credible, reliable, truthful and believable” despite Moonkusol’s defence that the stories the judge heard were all made up in an attempt for the victims to have him deported.
LeMesurier referred to testimony by one witness who revealed Moonkusol admitted to her “I teach young boys to have sex.”
A two-day trial was held in Sussex court in February with the help of a Thai interpreter.
LeMesurier said the trial proved beyond a reasonable doubt the three complainants suffered abuse at the hands of Moonkusol over a period of years.
Among them were two young men from the Sussex area who said they were just boys when the molestation began. The other victim is a woman.
A publication ban ordered by LeMesurier protects the identities of the victims.
The court heard testimony Moonkusol lived for regular intervals in the Sussex region between January 1999 and 2009 when the sexual assaults took place. During that decade, he also travelled back to Thailand for periods of time, and worked in western Canada briefly.
The court heard from Moonkusol, who took the stand in February, that while he was once addicted to methamphetamine and in more recent years used cocaine, he never committed crimes of sexual assault.
Moonkusol was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 4, 2009 in Sussex, sexually assaulting a male youth in Sussex between January 1999 and Dec. 31, 2004, and the youth’s younger brother between Nov. 1, 2006 to Dec. 15, 2006, also in Sussex.
It was because of the younger brother, who Crown prosecutor John Henheffer contended was being groomed by Moonkusol after his older brother reached 16 and was insistent that the abuse stop, that the charges came to light. It was in 2006 when the younger of the two victims contacted a kids’ helpline, based in Australia, by computer. The agency then contacted the RCMP’s child exploitation unit in Ottawa, which tracked Moonkusol to the Sussex area. The Sussex RCMP, in December 2006, showed up at the door of the parents of Moonkusol’s male victims to launch their investigation.
LeMesurier outlined details of the case. In 2006 when the youngest complainant was 15, there was an incident when Moonkusol kissed his neck and massaged him while the youth worked at the computer. Later that same day when the teen was in the car with Moonkusol, Moonkusol parked in a wooded area near Sussex and put his hand down the youth’s pants for several minutes. The victim testified Moonkusol repeatedly asked about the “size of my white penis” and asked for the boy to expose himself, and Moonkusol also talked to him about masturbation.
He said Moonkusol often used his culture as an “excuse.”
“Touching me and stuff, he said that’s part of his culture,” the young man, now a university student, testified in February.
The woman Moonkusol sexually assaulted said on several occasions Moonkusol attempted to show his control over her in the period between 2007 and 2009 by touching her often on the breasts and genitals even though she said no. She added, however, she did “give in” and have sexual intercourse with Moonkusol on some occasions and she continued what she called her “healthy habit” of being naked around him during the time the sexual advances were made.
The most graphic testimony re-described by LeMesurier prior to judgment came from the young man who said he was 12 years old when he first started experiencing the abuse by Moonkusol. He said starting in 2000, he was alone with Moonkusol when “stuff started to happen” and Moonkusol attempted to perform oral sex on him.
“I just remember he started to do it and he asked me if I felt anything and I said no. That’s how I know it started, before I hit puberty,” the victim testified.
He said during visits Moonkusol often played gay pornography for the two to watch together and repeatedly Moonkusol performed oral sex on him, often when he walked to Moonkusol’s McKenna Street apartment in Sussex during lunchtime from school.
The victim said the encounters happened three to four times a week, and sometimes daily, for two full years while he was in school. “It happened so often. Basically whenever we were alone it was happening. It just happened everywhere, all the time.
“As it went on he had me convinced it was a normal, consensual relationship and he would often tell me he does it to me because he loves me.”
The victim said he started to lose friends because he was acting “weird.”
“(Moonkusol) basically became my best friend,” he told the court.
LeMesurier said he found the evidence of the male victims in particular to be straightforward and unexaggerated. “I find their memories good in what they described. These events would not have been forgotten,” the judge said.
Once the judge’s decision was voiced the male victims, now young men, patted each other on the back as they sat side by side. Some members of their family cried. The female victim, also present, quickly wrote the date for sentencing in her agenda.
LeMesurier ordered a pre-sentence report and victim impact statements to be completed prior to sentencing and welcomed the victims to read their statements aloud in court when the time comes.