Burns Lake reeling after allegations of sexual assault against former mayor

Luke Strimbold abruptly resigned as mayor in 2016, the same year police say allegations of sexual abuse took place

An Indigenous leader in central British Columbia says his community is angry and disheartened after its former mayor was charged with sex-related offences.

Chief Wilf Adam of the Lake Babine Nation says he also has questions about the length of time it took the RCMP to reveal that Luke Strimbold, the former mayor of nearby Burns Lake, had been charged with numerous counts of sexual assault and related offences.

Court records show Strimbold, 28, was arrested and released on Feb. 3, but news about the case didn’t emerge until last week.

Adam said he first heard about the charges as he got off a plane and his phone was flooded with messages.

“When I first heard about it, I was very, very upset,” said Adam, who noted that he had a close working relationship with Strimbold.

RCMP issued a statement Friday about the charges they say relate to “allegations that occurred in 2016.”

Police have refused to say how many charges Strimbold is facing or what the “related offences” are, but Mounties are investigating the possibility there are more complainants.

Strimbold did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The news has been difficult for the tight-knit community and people want to know why it took so long for the information to emerge, Adam said.

“It’s disheartening to hear this. Why were we left out of the whole process when the charges did come down?”

Adam said he met with RCMP in Burns Lake on Monday and was told the nature of the case and that a publication ban prevented investigators from releasing any details earlier.

RELATED: Former Burns Lake mayor charged with sex assault

Court records show the ban prevents any identifying information about complainants or witnesses from being published.

In 2011, when Strimbold was first voted in at the age of 21, he became the youngest mayor ever to be elected in the province.

He led the community through a deadly explosion at a sawmill in 2012 that killed two men and injured 19 others.

In 2013, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service and, in 2014, BCBusiness magazine named Strimbold one of the Top 30 leaders under the age of 30, recognizing his efforts to successfully rebuild the local economy.

The young mayor worked closely with First Nations in the area on a variety of issues and helped out at a camp that Lake Babine put on about five years ago, Adam said.

“He’s a very trustworthy person. And he’s willing to help out as much as he can with anything that you ask of him.”

Strimbold was re-elected in 2014, but resigned in September 2016, saying he wanted to further his education and spend more time with his family.

Adam said the mayor quit “very abruptly” and they haven’t spoken since.

Strimbold also served as membership chair for the B.C. Liberals. Party officials said they became aware of the charges against him on Friday and that Strimbold had resigned as both a member of the executive and as a member of the party.

The Canadian Press

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Brookswood’s Forsyth back to Langley for basketball meet

The Bobcat alumnus and her team will take on last year’s champs Notre Dame.

Student entrepreneurs spotlighted at Fort Langley event

Take part in a talk on problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking and social responsibility.

Historic Fort Langley remembers James Douglas and Louis Riel

Annual weekend events draw hundreds to site

Aldergrove hairdressers go wild and crazy

Students show off skills they’ve learned in the career program at ACSS

Langley school pulls Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag after student petition

School district promises consultation with students and parents, defends using flag for war history

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Cyclist defecates, throws own poop at car following B.C. crash

Man defecates in the street before throwing it at a driver locked in her vehicle

Second person dies following head-on collision in Surrey

Paige Nagata of Abbotsford was in crash on Nov. 4 that also killed maternity nurse

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing started Monday in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

Most Read