A new special prosecutor has taken over the case against former Burns Lake mayor Luke Strimbold, after Leonard Doust withdrew from the case for personal reasons.
In February Strimbold was charged with several sex-related crimes including eight counts of sexual assault, seven counts of sexual interference, five counts of invitation to sexual touching and four counts of sexual exploitation. Strimbold was charged on February 3 but the Burns Lake RCMP did not publicly disclose the charges until March 2 when the CBC became aware of them. None of the allegations have been proven in court. In August, Doust approved three more charges, involving three more complainants, against Strimbold, brining the number of charges to 29.
Following Doust’s decision to withdraw, Richard Peck, QC, a senior Vancouver lawyer in private practice, has agreed to assume the prosecution.
He has been given a mandate to conduct an independent review and assessment of the current charges, provide legal advice to the investigative agency as required, and conduct the continuation of the prosecution and any subsequent appeal if he determines that the prosecution is warranted based on the BC Prosecution Service Charge Assessment Guidelines (CHA 1). The matter has been adjourned to allow Peck to complete his independent assessment. The accused will be back in court in Smithers on December 21, 2018 to fix a trial date.
Strimbold was elected mayor of Burns Lake in 2011 when he was just 21 years old and was, at that time, the youngest mayor in B.C. He stepped down as mayor in 2016 saying he wanted to spend time with family and go back to school. He was also serving as the membership chair of the B.C. Liberal party until the charges were revealed.