Nova Scotia

As William Shrubsall departs Canada, his victims react to his parole

On Monday, sexual predator William Shrubsall is set to be released into the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency and he will be sent to the U.S. for an awaiting prison sentence. Some of his victims say the Parole Board of Canada has made a terrible mistake.

'He'll weasel his way into making people trust him and then he'll have a whole other set of victims'

After arriving in Halifax in May 1996, William Shrubsall lived under a number of aliases and committed a string of violent and brutal sex assaults before he was apprehended in June 1998. (CBC)

Sexual predator William Shrubsall is set to be released from a Canadian prison on Monday and some of his Canadian victims say granting him parole was a terrible decision.

Shrubsall, 47, won't be a free man, just yet.

There are prison sentences awaiting him in the U.S., seven years for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 1995, as well as a yet-to-be determined sentence for absconding.

While on trial for that crime in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1996, he left a suicide note saying he was going to jump into Niagara Falls.

Days later, he turned up in Halifax.

For the next two years, Shrubsall lived under a number of aliases — including Ian Thor Greene and Joe Thunder — and committed a string of violent and brutal sex assaults.

Last fall, Shrubsall's fifth application for parole was approved.

"I think we passed the buck on it," said one of his victims, K.C., who can't be identified due to a publication ban. "I think that someone needs to answer why this happened. I guess that's what we're looking for is if you read the parole board decision, it doesn't make sense.

"If the parole board had stated this individual is clearly rehabilitated and he's unlikely to re-offend in the future, then that's one thing, but that's not what it says. It just leaves a lot of questions as to what their thought process was."

The Parole Board of Canada's decision to parole Shrubsall states he is "a high risk to re-offend sexually and that there is no institutional programming that would reduce your risk to a point where it would be manageable in the community."

In an e-mail, parole board spokesperson Holly Knowles said the board cannot discuss the specifics of Shrubsall's case.

"As with all Parole Board of Canada decisions, the protection of society is the paramount consideration and the circumstances under which the offender is to be released is carefully considered in the overall risk assessment," she wrote.

Crown attorney Paul Carver heads to court in Halifax on Monday, Feb. 26, 2001, for the dangerous-offender hearing of convicted sex offender William Shrubsall. (Canadian Press)

Nancy Charbonneau, the lawyer who has been recently representing Shrubsall, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Paul Carver is one of the Crown attorneys who prosecuted the original Shrubsall cases, and led the effort to have him declared a dangerous offender, which was granted in December 2001.

"In the 10 or 15 years prior to his designation as a dangerous offender, there were many, many victims and since his designation as a dangerous offender, there have been zero," said Carver, who is now the chief Crown attorney for the Halifax region.

"My concern at this particular point is that an opportunity, or potential opportunity, has been created to start adding to his list of victims, which I think is very unfortunate."

As a teen, Shrubsall killed his mom

Shrubsall has a lengthy rap sheet dating back to his teenage years.

In 1988, at age 17, he beat his mother to death with a baseball bat on the night before his high school graduation, where he was to be the valedictorian.

In Halifax, Shrubsall dated a young woman for a period of three months between late 1997 and early 1998.

When the woman, T.C., broke things off with Shrubsall, he began stalking her. That included breaking into her apartment with a key she wasn't aware he had made, as well as him leaving letters for her at her home and at her classes.

He even showed up on the Dalhousie University campus and had to be removed from one of her classes by security.

"I was afraid of him and I was afraid of what he was capable of," said T.C., who can't be identified due to a publication ban.

3 violent Halifax assaults

Shortly after their breakup in February 1998, Shrubsall beat a 24-year-old woman with a baseball bat while she was working her shift at a store on Upper Water Street and stole money from the till. The vicious attack left the woman in a coma and her fractured skull had to be reconstructed.

In May, Shrubsall followed a woman home from the New Palace Cabaret and then ambushed her and sexually assaulted her in a driveway on Tower Road. The beating was so bad that the woman's contact lenses had to be surgically removed.

Shrubsall was finally captured in June 1998 after an incident at his residence at the Sigma Chi fraternity on South Street. When K.C. tried to use a phone to call a cab to leave, Shrubsall beat, choked and sexually assaulted her.

Shrubsall was later charged for the three incidents, as well as criminal harassment of T.C., and was found guilty.

T.C. said the parole decision is "absurd."

"I deserve better as a victim, his past victims in the United States deserve better and so do the Canadians and the Americans that have been affected by this individual," she said.

T.C., who visits the U.S. regularly and has family and friends there, said she's concerned about future visits there.

'Revictimized all over again'

K.C. said she suffered from depression and went to therapy after the assault. Now 44, the mother of two said she's had a good life, but never thought Shrubsall would get out of a Canadian prison.

"I felt like I was being revictimized all over again," she said.

"As victims of violent crime, that's your only comfort, to know your government has sought justice for you and put somebody behind bars. And then to find out we had the opportunity to keep him in there, and to keep the public safe and we failed to do it, is a bit of a hard pill to swallow."

Shrubsall has started seminary studies

The latest parole decision notes that Shrubsall has started seminary studies and his goal is to be ordained or get a doctoral degree.

That detail worries K.C., especially given Shrubsall changed his name to Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod while in prison.

"He'll weasel his way into making people trust him and then he'll have a whole other set of victims that could have been prevented," she said. "That's what makes me really sad."

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Woodbury is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team. He can be reached at richard.woodbury@cbc.ca.

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