[Please be advised this article contains descriptions of sexual assault involving minors.]
On Tuesday, Oct. 2 the court ruled in favour of the Crown’s suggested alternations to former Burns Lake mayor Luke Strimbold’s bail conditions during a show cause hearing in relation to charges from an Aug. 9 indictment.
Strimbold is facing 11 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of sexual inference and seven counts of invitation to sexual touching.
Since the indictment contained new and different charges than those that were previously laid, a warrant for Strimbold’s arrest was issued, but at the behest of the Crown and the defence it was held until Oct. 1. Strimbold turned himself in on Tuesday morning resulting in the need for new bail orders.
The Crown argued Strimbold should be released on the same bail conditions he had in February but with three alterations. The Crown wanted to raise the fine for breaking bail conditions from $2,500 to $50,000; the imposition of a surety; and for Strimbold to surrender his passport.
A surety is someone who promises to supervise and be responsible for a person accused of crime while on bail. If the accused breaks their bail conditions the accused and surety will have to pay a fine. In this case it will be $50,000.
Six complainants — who are all male and were between the ages of 13 and 15 at the time of alleged assaults — have accused Strimbold of fondling their genitals, performing and receiving oral sex and anal penetration.
Special prosecutor Leonard Doust told the court in nearly every case the assaults allegedly occurred after a night of drinking. The boys were heavily intoxicated after drinking alcohol Strimbold allegedly provided, Doust said in court.
Strimbold is accused of initiating the assaults while the complainants were asleep, Doust said. In some cases the complainants said they woke up to find Strimbold groping them or performing fellatio, Doust told the court. In one instance the assault escalated to anal penetration, Doust said.
These assaults are alleged to have taken place over a seven-year period between 2010-2017. Strimbold served as Burns Lake mayor from 2011 to 2016.
“The allegations here are suggestive of a repeated, consistent pattern of behaviour,” Doust said in court. “The accused exploits situations in which adolescent boys are heavily intoxicated, isolated from other adults and highly vulnerable.”
The Crown argued a surety is necessary to ensure Strimbold does not, “continue to create or participate in situations that mirror those of the alleged offenses.”
The Crown also argued that Strimbold was a flight risk and thus needed to surrender his passport. The defence asked the Crown if they would consent to Strimbold taking a trip to Australia later this month.
The Crown did not consent and asserted that the fact Strimbold could afford to take such a trip shows he has the financial means to leave at any time he wishes.
The defence said Strimbold simply wanted to know if it was possible to leave the jurisdiction at some point for a vacation. He had no intention of subverting the court order the defence said.
If Strimbold is found guilty of these crimes he could face a lot of years in prison which only increases his flight risk the Crown told the court.
“There’s nothing to suggest the [Strimbold’s] propensity to carry out these types of assaults has abated in anyway,” Doust said in court.
The defence argued the Crown’s additional conditions were unnecessary as Strimbold has proven he is able meet the court’s bail conditions and has not been accused of any new crimes since being on bail. The additional charges are alleged to have taken place before Strimbold was arrested earlier this year.
Strimbold, the defence said, has not shown not broken or shown any risk of breaking bails conditions since being released in February.
The defence said Strimbold is currently living and working with father who owns a construction company and has many other family ties to the area. This binds him to the community which lessens his flight risk the defence said.
Members of Strimbold’s family were in court to show their support.
Strimbold voluntarily surrendered to the RCMP Tuesday morning when his arrest warrant went into effect which shows his willingness to obey court orders the defence said.
The court ultimately sided with the Crown because Strimbold is facing more serious charges, which could result in more jail time, so there’s a higher chance he may flee.
The court also agreed with the Crown’s assertion that these allegations show a consistent pattern of behaviour as they supposedly occurred over a number of years.
An increase in the number of complainants from four to six also swayed the court to the Crown’s side.
Strimbold was ordered to surrender his passport on or before Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. to RCMP or his bail supervisor.
Strimbold’s next court appearance will be in Smithers on Oct. 29.