British Columbia

Crown seeks 4 to 6 years in prison for former B.C. mayor guilty of sex crimes against youth

Crown prosecutors asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge on Tuesday to sentence the former mayor of Burns Lake to four to six years in prison for sex crimes against youth, some of which were committed while he was in office.  

Luke Strimbold pleaded guilty to 4 offences against youth in Burns Lake

Luke Strimbold in 2012, when he was mayor of Burns Lake, B.C. (CBC)

Crown prosecutors asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge on Tuesday to sentence the former mayor of Burns Lake to four to six years in prison for sex crimes against youth, some of which were committed while he was in office.  

Luke Strimbold, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count each of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.

All the victims were under 16 years of age.

The incidents took place between 2014 and 2017, which overlaps with the period between 2011 and 2016 when Strimbold was mayor of the Village of Burns Lake, 230 kilometres west of Prince George.

Strimbold was originally charged with 29 offences over a two-year period against seven victims, who were all under 16 years. 

Long-term impacts on victims

In a statement of fact, Crown prosecutors described Strimbold supplying his victims with alcohol, noting he was in a position of authority in the community.

In victim impact statements, prosecutors described the impact on the victims and their families, which included depression, embarrassment and fear — with one victim dropping out of school as a result of the crimes.

Strimbold apologized to his victims in tearful testimony during his sentencing hearing at B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Stanley Tessmer told the court that Strimbold was the victim of abuse at a young age. He said Strimbold failed to recognize that abuse, which prevented him from acknowledging the problem with his own actions when they originally occurred.

Tessmer also said Strimbold was a closeted gay man who had been bullied while growing up in Burns Lake, and that he had problems with drugs and alcohol.

He said Strimbold is accessing treatment and that he recognizes the impact he's had on victims.

The defence is asking for a sentence of 18 months.

'I am sorry I let you down': Strimbold

Strimbold also addressed the court, giving a tearful apology to the victims, who he described as friends.

"We would hang out together. We would laugh together. We would have fun. And in no way what I did is what a friend would or should do," he said.

"I am deeply sorry to each of them and will forever be regretful."

He also apologized to the community of Burns Lake, saying, "I am sorry I let you down."

Strimbold was the youngest mayor in B.C. when he was elected in 2011 at age 21, the second youngest ever elected in Canada, and he was a member of the B.C. Liberal party's executive board until the day he was arrested in 2018.

Tessmer urged the judge to look at Strimbold's record of community service, which includes leading Burns Lake through a fatal mill explosion in 2012, and questioned whether his crimes should erase his many good acts.

The proceedings have now been adjourned. The judge is expected to deliver a sentence Dec. 4. 

With files from Nicole Oud and Betsy Trumpener

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