National Post

Saturday, February 27, 1999

Attacker awaiting sentence
Possible 10-year term

Anne Marie Owens
National Post


Candace Elliott , The Edmonton Journal / Steve Ewanchuk, carrying a child, runs to his home in Edmonton late Thursday.

Steve Ewanchuk, the 49-year-old man who was acquitted four years ago in the sexual assault charges that have led to this week's landmark "No Means No" ruling, now faces up to 10 years in prison.

Ewanchuk is not in custody, even though the Supreme Court of Canada decided Thursday to convict the Edmonton man rather than send him back for a new trial.

Peter Royal, Ewanchuk's lawyer, said his client will now have to go back before the original trial judge, Justice John Moore, of Calgary, to be sentenced in the case.

He estimated that could take at least several weeks.

The Supreme Court's judgment was immediately sent to the Alberta Court of Appeal. From there, the ruling was sent to the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta, which initially heard the case in 1995.

The case file has now been re-opened, and the court's trial co-ordinator is in the process of setting a date to have the matter dealt with in Edmonton.

Ewanchuk could be issued a summons or a warrant to appear in court for the next arraignment date, which is March 10, or the court could try to broker an informal arrangement with Ewan-chuk's lawyer.

Mr. Royal said he may agree to handle this informally, in order to get things rolling sooner.

Ewanchuk was convicted of rape three times in the early 1970s and convicted of sexual assault in 1989.

He still lives and runs his woodworking business in Edmonton. In an interview with a reporter in his woodworking shop a year ago, Ewanchuk admitted he has a problem with women, particularly those who seem to him to be promiscuous.

He remembers that warm June day outside the mall for the girls laughing and smiling "flauntingly," one of them in a short filmy skirt which blew up in the wind.

"For me, that's like placing a drink in front of an alcoholic," he said last year. "It's one of my weaknesses."

Mr. Royal talked to his client at his Edmonton home the night after the Supreme Court came down with its judgment, and as for his reaction, would only say, "He is a man awaiting sentence."

The Supreme Court's decision forgoing a new trial and sending Ewanchuk directly to a conviction and sentencing is a rare move.

In 1996, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of a New Brunswick gym teacher who had a sexual relation with a girl he had taught.

Yves Audet, then 22, was charged after a summertime encounter in 1992 with a 14-year-old girl. He was acquitted because he was not in a position of trust towards the girl at the time of the incident, a decision which was upheld by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court substituted a guilty verdict and instructed the lower provincial trial court to impose a sentence.

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