Teen victim of Derksen killer breaks silence
Cynthia Bent says when Grant sexually attacked her in Winnipeg in 1989, it scarred her for life.
But now, Bent says she feels it’s time to step forward to talk about how she’s managed to rebuild and regain her confidence.
Bent was 16 when Grant offered her a ride home from a house that she and some friends were visiting. Instead, he drove her to a back lane in Elmwood and seriously sexually assaulted her.
Bent, now an accountant in Texas, said she feels a kind of kinship with a 13-year-old Winnipeg girl Grant was only recently convicted of killing.
"I am one of very few people who know what it's like to have Mark Grant look you in the eyes and you know you are going to die," she told CBC News.
Grant, 47, was convicted in February of second-degree murder in the death of Candace Derksen, 13.
The schoolgirl was found hog-tied and frozen to death in a supply shed near the Nairn Overpass in January 1985.
Grant wasn’t arrested until May 2007 after DNA tests on exhibits from the crime scene linked him to it. Police said there was no evidence she was sexually assaulted.
Revisiting the horror
CBC reporter Mychaylo Prystupa and Cynthia Bent revisit the scene where she was attacked in 1989
Bent said she finds Derksen and the girl’s family often in her thoughts.
"I feel like I'm living out the life their daughter couldn't. And I feel like I owe them or something because I got to live," she said.
Long criminal history
At the time 13-year-old Derksen went missing on Nov. 30, 1984, Grant had convictions for sexual assault of an underage sex trade worker, forgery, fraud, break and enter and failing to comply with court orders.
Just nine days after he was released on parole, he sexually assaulted another woman and was given another nine years behind bars.
Bent said after reading parole board documents about Grant’s past, she lost faith in the justice system.
"He knows he’s sick. Everybody knows he’s sick, and if he is let out on the streets again, he will do this again," she said.
In 2005, Winnipeg police and the Manitoba government put out a community notification warning that women and children were at risk of sexual violence after he was released from prison.
Bent says after Grant attacked her, she felt as if she was somehow to blame. She said it took time to come to the realization that she was completely blameless for what happened.
"I think women, when this happens to them — they feel guilt — they feel that they are to blame. But it's not your fault. And it's not my fault. And it wasn't Candace's fault.
"And there's too many women that are too scared to come forward. And I understand why — and that's why I'd like to speak out, to say 'It's not your fault. And you don't have to be afraid,’" Bent said.
Grant will be sentenced for Derksen's death on Apr. 27. He faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
With files from the CBC's Mychaylo Prystupa