After 40 years, victim of horrific attack confronts Lance Blanchard at dangerous offender sentencing

The image of a chocolate bar in a pool of blood has haunted the victim for four decades.

Judge rules Blanchard is a dangerous offender, sending him to prison indefinitely

Lance Blanchard, 60, has been declared a dangerous offender. (Edmonton Police Service )

The image of a chocolate bar in a pool of blood has haunted the victim for four decades.

On Friday, hours before his attacker was declared a dangerous offender, the boy who was beaten and sexually assaulted that day in March 1978 stood in an Edmonton courtroom, now a grown man, and recounted the crime and its impact in graphic detail.

The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was 10 years old the day he encountered Lance Blanchard in an elevator in the Hotel Macdonald in downtown Edmonton.

The child he was that day had ridden the elevator down to the lobby, to buy a chocolate bar. When he stepped back into the elevator to return upstairs to his family's room, Blanchard followed him inside.

With his wife standing beside him for support, the man told the courtroom about a horrific attack that changed his life forever.

Cornered in hotel elevator

He said Blanchard, who was six-foot-seven, cornered him in the elevator and told me to keep quiet, because he had a knife in his back pocket and and would "kill me if I made a sound."

Blanchard took the 10 year old to the top and forced him into a small area where the ice machine was located. There, Blanchard unbuttoned his pants and made the boy touch his genitals and put them in his mouth.

He then took the boy into the stairwell, forced him to remove his clothing, and used his clothes to tie him up.

"Blanchard began beating me repeatedly and driving my heard into the steel handrail behind me," the victim said in his statement. "The beating seemed to go on forever. I remember seeing the chocolate bar that I was so excited about laying in front of me in a pool of my blood."

Once Blanchard was gone, the victim said he managed to free himself and get back to his room, where he told his father. The police and an ambulance arrived at hotel. The boy spent the next couple of weeks in hospital recovering from his physical injuries.

But those, he said, were "nothing compared to the mental and emotional injuries I endured that day."

Victim had nightmares for years

In a lengthy decision Friday, Justice Eric Macklin ruled that Blanchard, 60, meets the test to be declared a dangerous offender.

"I conclude that Mr. Blanchard's conduct is intractable," the judge said Friday. "It is difficult to conclude there's an eventual possibility of Mr. Blanchard controlling his risk in the community."

Blanchard has a criminal history that stretches back to 1975. His first criminal conviction was for raping a 21-year old mentally challenged girl at the Alberta School Hospital, now called the Michener Centre. He was given a three-year sentence. He was 17 years old.  

Three years later, he forced a 12-year-old girl into a vehicle at knifepoint but eventually released her unharmed.

That same year, Blanchard attacked the 10-year-old boy in Edmonton and was sentenced to 10 years. He ended up spending the next 36 years in prison because of offences committed while he was behind bars, including the manslaughter of another inmate and taking a prison guard hostage.

Along the way, the Crown said Blanchard racked up 237 institutional convictions.

"They all reflect his continuous disdain for authority," Macklin said.

When Blanchard finally got out of prison at age 56, he had served his entire sentence. Eight months later he violently attacked Angela Cardinal.

Indefinite sentence as dangerous offender

As a dangerous offender he will now serve an indefinite sentence for his June 2014 attack on a woman CBC News identified by the pseudonym Angela Cardinal.

Blanchard was found guilty in December 2016 of aggravated sexual assault and forcible confinement. The Crown then sought permission to seek dangerous offender status.

The victim who read his statement in court Friday said he was once a happy boy who loved and trusted everybody. He said Blanchard's attack left him frightened and ashamed.

"I had nightmares involving Blanchard every night for almost two years," he said.

He said he began to wet his bed and continued to do so into his teen years.

The first time he saw himself in the mirror after the attack, he said, "I was horrified to see my head swollen one-and-a-half times in size. My face and head were severely bruised. I could not recognize myself.

"I remember falling apart and crying uncontrollably."

He said after he left the hospital and went home, the children in school knew what had happened.

"They heard the story on the radio," he said. "Everyone knew it was me who was sexually assaulted in the hotel. At that age, kids don't understand.

"I learned at a very young age [that] I would have to get tough to stop the bullying. The nice, sweet, loving child was gone. I was filled with anger and hate. I would fight anybody, any time.

He said he became disinterested in school and failed two grades after the attack.

"I trusted very few people. I was bullied by other kids in school. They said I had to be gay for this to happen to me.

Legal wrangling over statement

Much of the sentencing hearing on Friday morning was taken up with legal wrangling over the victim impact statement. Defence lawyer Tom Engel argued the statement was a way for the Crown to offer new evidence.

The prosecution argued the Crown was not seeking to reopen the case but simply to provide an opportunity for the victim of a very serious crime to tell the court about the impact of that crime.

Blanchard was convicted of attacking the boy in 1980, eight years before the courts started allowing victim impact statements. Friday was the first chance this victim had to address the court.

In the end, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Eric Macklin allowed the victim to read his statement, though some portions of it were redacted.

"That innocent child that stepped into the elevator in March of 1978 never came out," the victim said in his statement. "I was changed forever."

The man said he wanted to see Blanchard's face while he's speaking.

"I've waited nearly 40 years for our paths to cross. At age 50, I still feel the anger and rage build up inside of me."