Luke Strimbold had achieved much in his youth: A Rotary Citizen of the Year; B.C.'s youngest mayor; and a top 30 achiever under the age of 30. But now, at age 28, he stands accused of 24 sex-related charges.
The charges laid against former Burns Lake mayor Luke Strimbold involve four alleged victims, at least three of them under the age of 16, over the span of two years, new information reveals.
Nineteen of the 24 offences are alleged to have occurred while Strimbold was mayor of the northern B.C. town of 2,000; the other five allegedly occurred after his abrupt resignation in September 2016.
The identities of the victims and details of the alleged crimes are protected by a publication ban. The charge sheet against Strimbold, though, indicates he faces eight counts of sexual assault; five of invitation to sexual touching with a person under 16; seven counts of sexual interference; and four counts of sexual exploitation, which pertains to a person in a position of trust over a young person.
- Ten of the charges relate to one alleged victim under the age of 16, in relation to incidents that occurred in July or August of both 2016 and 2017.
- Nine pertain to a second young victim, with offences allegedly happening between Oct. 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, as well as between June 1 2016 and Sept. 30, 2016.
- Four offences relate to a third young victim in July 2016.
- The final allegation is for a sexual assault between Aug. 1 and Nov. 30, 2017, but the age of the victim is not indicated.
The charges were laid on Feb. 3, but not made public until Friday, shocking the town where Strimbold had received many political and community accolades.
"We put a lot of our trust in him and ... this is unbelievable," said Wilf Adam, chief of the Lake Babine Nation, who worked closely with Strimbold when he was mayor, especially during a devastating sawmill explosion in 2012. "The last few days it was very trying situation for the whole community, and I'm still angry."
At age 16, Strimbold was named by the Burns Lake Rotary Club as its Youth Citizen of the Year, an honour bestowed in part because of his willingness to help out at his high school and volunteer at a local seniors' home.
He participated in the Youth Parliament of B.C. in Victoria in 2008, was elected town councillor in 2010 at age 20, became B.C.'s youngest mayor in 2011 and collected a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service from then-premier Christy Clark in 2013.
After resigning during his second term as mayor, he worked at his family's forestry company E.A. Strimbold Ltd., and became president of the Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce board and treasurer of the Burns Lake Rotary Club.