Two Burns Lake area men – former Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold and a Southside offender – had court appearances scheduled this week.
However, Strimbold’s court appearance has been adjourned to allow a new special prosecutor time to review the case.
Special prosecutor Leonard Doust has recently withdrawn from the case for personal reasons, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service.
Richard Peck, a senior Vancouver lawyer in private practice, has been appointed as the new special prosecutor. He has been given a mandate to conduct an independent review and assessment of the current charges, provide legal advice to the investigative agency as required, and conduct the continuation of the prosecution and any subsequent appeal.
Strimbold will be back in court in Smithers on Dec. 21, 2018 to fix a trial date.
The former mayor is facing 11 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of sexual inference and seven counts of invitation to sexual touching.
The charges relate to six male teens who were between the ages of 13 and 15 at the time of the alleged assaults. The teens have accused Strimbold of fondling their genitals, performing and receiving oral sex and anal penetration.
Strimbold’s lawyer Stan Tessmer points out that no allegations have been proved in court.
“People shouldn’t judge based on unknown and unsubstantiated allegations,” he told Lakes District News.
Southside man sentenced to 18 months in jail
A Southside offender, who was convicted of touching for a sexual purpose a person under the age of 16, was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Dec. 3.
According to the B.C. Prosecution Service, of the 18 months, 12 months will be served for sexual interference and six for luring.
However, since the offender has already served time in custody, he accounted credit of 4.5 months. This means that the Southside offender will be serving a total 13.5 months in jail.
In addition, the offender was placed on probation for two years.
The offender had originally been charged with four counts, but was only convicted of two – touching for a sexual purpose a person under the age of 16, and communicating with the complainant for the purpose of facilitating his touching for a sexual purpose.
Although he was originally found guilty of sexually assaulting the complainant, this count was stayed by the court based on the “Kienapple principle,” which prevents an accused person from being convicted of multiple offences arising out of the same incident. He was also found not guilty of criminally harassing the complainant.
His name cannot be released due to a publication ban.
– With files from Michael Grace-Dacosta