Nova Scotia

Sexual predator William Shrubsall pleads guilty to bail jumping, criminal contempt

A notorious sexual predator who embarked on a two-year reign of terror in Halifax after he fled Niagara Falls, N.Y., while on trial in 1996 pleaded guilty to bail jumping and criminal contempt in a New York court on Thursday.

'He shouldn't be a man that's almost free,' says one of his Halifax victims

Almost 24 years after he fled the United States for Halifax, William Shrubsall, 48, pleaded guilty to jumping bail. (Niagara County Sheriff's Office)

A notorious sexual predator who embarked on a two-year reign of terror in Halifax after he fled Niagara Falls, N.Y., while on trial pleaded guilty to bail jumping and criminal contempt in a New York court on Thursday.

William Shrubsall, days shy of his 49th birthday, was set to go on trial on March 30 at the Niagara County Courthouse in Lockport, but entered his plea at a pre-trial conference.

Shrubsall was on trial in Niagara Falls in May 1996 for the sexual assault a year earlier of a 17-year-old girl. While on trial, he left a suicide note and fled.

Within days, he turned up in Halifax, where he lived under several aliases. He committed a string of violent crimes and brutal sex assaults before he was apprehended in June 1998.

"He shouldn't be a man that's almost free," said Tracy Jesso, one of Shrubsall's victims.

In this Jan. 22, 2019, photo, a law enforcement officer leads William Shrubsall through the Niagara County Court House in Lockport, N.Y. (Tim Fenster/The Union-Sun & Journal via AP)

On May 4, 1998, Jesso went out for a night of dancing at the New Palace Cabaret in Halifax.

Jesso, 19 at the time, walked home alone from the club and thought someone was following her. She was then ambushed in a driveway by Shrubsall, who beat her and sexually assaulted her only five buildings from her home.

Jesso, who previously went to court to have a publication ban lifted on her name, said her injuries included a broken eye socket, 13 stitches and having her teeth knocked through her bottom lip. Her contact lenses had to be surgically removed.

Now working on a master's in social work, she said she was surprised by Shrubsall's decision to plead guilty.

"Normally, he'd say not guilty because he wants to be right," she said. "Now, he's starting to realize, 'OK, if I plead guilty, I'll get out of jail quicker,'" she said.

A Parole Board of Canada document from November 2018 noted Shrubsall is "a high risk to re-offend sexually and that there is no institutional programming that would reduce [his] risk to a point where it would be manageable in the community."

How much time will Shrubsall serve?

Shrubsall is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26 for the bail jumping and criminal contempt indictments. He is expected to serve between two and six years for these crimes, but was previously expected to serve 2⅓ to seven years.

He tried unsuccessfully last year to have the bail jumping charge thrown out on the grounds that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. However, a judge ruled the reason for the delay was because Shrubsall fled to Canada.

Shrubsall, who now goes by the name of Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod, is already serving time for the 1995 sexual assault for which he was found guilty in absentia. He's expected to serve between 2⅓ to seven years for that.

William Shrubsall was declared a dangerous offender in December 2001 and given an indeterminate prison sentence. He was deported to the U.S. in January 2019. (CBC)

Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek expects him to serve on the low end of the sentencing guidelines for his crimes.

Shrubsall was declared a dangerous offender by Canadian authorities in 2001 and was given an indeterminate prison sentence, but was granted parole in November 2018. He was extradited to the U.S. in January 2019.

The decision to grant Shrubsall parole in Canada was met with outrage by his victimsNova Scotia's justice minister, the Crown attorney who prosecuted Shrubsall and the lead detective who worked his case.

'The Canadian system let him go,' says victim

Jesso is angry Shrubsall was granted parole in Canada.

"He should still be here serving another 10 to 15 years at least," she said. "But instead, the Canadian system let him go."

A CBC News investigation revealed Shrubsall plans to settle in Brooklyn, N.Y., once out of prison. He plans to be a bookkeeper for a trucking company being launched by a sex offender Shrubsall met while incarcerated in Canada.

The final parole decision for Shrubsall in Canada noted he had started seminary studies and his goal is to be ordained or get a doctorate.

Shrubsall's long criminal history dates back to his teenage years.

He became notorious when in 1988, at age 17, he beat his mother to death with a baseball bat on the night before his high school graduation in Niagara Falls, where he was to be the valedictorian. He ended up serving 16 months.