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CanadaFormer B.C. mayor pleads guilty to 4 sex crimes against youth

01:20  07 may  2019
01:20  07 may  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A former B . C . mayor has pleaded guilty to four sex offences against youths in Burns Lake. Luke Strimbold, 28, had been charged with 29 offences The numerous charges included sexual assault, sexual touching and sexual interference. Some of the sex crimes occurred while Strimbold was

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Former B.C. mayor pleads guilty to 4 sex crimes against youth © CBC Luke Strimbold in 2012, when he was mayor of Burns Lake, B.C.

A former B.C. mayor has pleaded guilty to four sex offences against youth in Burns Lake.

Luke Strimbold had been charged with 29 offences over a two year period against seven victims who were all under 16 years old.

Ex-mayor charged with 29 sex crimes against 7 youth

The charges against Strimbold included sexual assault, sexual touching and sexual interference. Some of the sex crimes occurred while Strimbold was mayor of the village of Burns Lake and in a position of trust.

Strimbold was the youngest mayor in B.C. when he was elected at age 21, and he was a member of the B.C. Liberal party's executive board until the day he was arrested in 2018.

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'Very remorseful'

Since then, Strimbold has been out on bail and was scheduled to go on trial in B.C. Supreme Court this summer. But at a court appearance in April, Strimbold's lawyer indicated his client intended to plead guilty.

"I can tell you he's very remorseful and wants to start the healing process as soon as possible," his lawyer, Stan Tessmer, told CBC News.

Strimbold was born and raised in Burns Lake, a village of about 2,000 people, three hours west of Prince George.

Former B.C. mayor pleads guilty to 4 sex crimes against youth © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Village of Burns Lake

In 2011, at the age of 21, Strimbold was elected mayor, becoming the youngest person in B.C. history — and the second youngest in Canada — to hold that office.

Strimbold won many accolades before charges laid

B.C. Business Magazine named him to its "top 30 under 30" list in 2014, adding the young mayor to "an exceptional inaugural list of young men and women ... over-achievers."

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Strimbold also headed the local chamber of commerce, worked at a rediscovery camp for Indigenous youth, and was awarded a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, an honour for "significant contributions and achievements by Canadians."

Former B.C. mayor pleads guilty to 4 sex crimes against youth © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Province of B.C./Flickr

At the ceremony, he posed for a smiling photo with then-premier Christy Clark.

And he was no stranger in the corridors of power. Strimbold served on a number of committees with the B.C. Liberal party's executive board, serving on a number of committees.

Until news of the charges were made public, Strimbold was listed on the B.C. Liberal website as the membership chair and a member of the rules leadership committee during the party's race to replace Christy Clark.

'Significant connection to BC Liberal party'

Because Strimbold had been mayor and had links to the B.C. Liberal party, a special prosecutor was appointed to his case.

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"The appointment of a special srosecutor is intended to avoid any potential for real or percieved improper influence in the administration of justice. In light of the nature of the allegations and the identity of the accused as a former elected municipal official with significant connections to the B.C. Liberal party," Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel with the B.C. Prosecution Service, said in a written statement.

Waiting 'for justice to be served'

"I think our community is just waiting for this to be over and for justice to be served," said Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk. "And for healing to begin for the victims."

Funk said Burns Lake is "very small and interconnected. And so ultimately I think this is a very difficult time for everyone.  And I think honestly our hearts are just with the victims and their families."

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