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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Nuxalk College undertakes language digitization project

New tapes from over 50 years ago are set to be digitally transcribed

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Bella Coola under another winter storm warning

Freezing rain is expected by this afternoon

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky Nimpkish ferry sailing

The ferry docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Heiltsuk Nation calls probe into arrest of Indigenous man at bank ‘woefully inadequate’

Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter had been at a Bank of Montreal branch in Vancouver on Dec. 20

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Ulktacho, Lhoosk’uz Dené sign agreements in support of Blackwater Mine project

Agreements commit to share portion of provincial mineral tax revenue collected from planned mine

Most Read