Twenty-four years after he faked his own death and fled the U.S. for Halifax, serial predator William Shrubsall was sentenced Wednesday in a New York state court for bail jumping.
At the hearing Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. sentenced Shrubsall to two to six years for bail jumping. Shrubsall was granted an unconditional discharge for criminal contempt.
"The defendant is a highly manipulative and violent man, and frankly, I think he has lost the right to walk among us given his past criminal history," district attorney Caroline Wojtaszek told CBC News.
Shrubsall, who now goes by the name of Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod, is already serving a sentence of 26 months to seven years for the 1995 sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl, for which he was found guilty in absentia.
Shrubsall was on trial for that crime in May 1996 when he fled the country and left a suicide note that said he was going to jump into Niagara Falls.
Once Shrubsall serves the sentence for sexual assault, he will begin serving time for bail jumping, which means he could be out in a little under three years.
Shrubsall appeared at Wednesday's sentencing via a video feed, wearing a mask and glasses. He said he regretted that his actions meant the 17-year-old victim of the 1995 sexual assault didn't have closure.
"My aunt suffered obviously, as well, for my actions and I sincerely regret that," he said, referencing his aunt, June Epp, who put up bail money for him more than two decades ago.
Within days of fleeing Niagara Falls in 1996, Shrubsall turned up in Halifax where he lived under a series of assumed names, including Ian Thor Greene and Joe Thunder.
In February 1998, Shrubsall beat a 24-year-old woman with a baseball bat while she was working her shift at a store on Upper Water Street and stole money from the till. The vicious attack left the woman in a coma and her fractured skull had to be reconstructed.
In May of that year, Shrubsall followed a woman home from the New Palace Cabaret and then ambushed her and sexually assaulted her in a driveway on Tower Road. The beating was so bad that the woman's contact lenses had to be surgically removed.
Shrubsall was finally captured in June 1998 after an incident at his residence at the Sigma Chi fraternity on South Street. When a woman tried to use a phone to call a cab to leave, Shrubsall beat, choked and sexually assaulted her.
Shrubsall was later charged for the three incidents, as well as criminal harassment of an ex-girlfriend, and was found guilty.
Reaction from victims
At least three of Shrubsall's Canadian victims watched the proceedings via Skype Wednesday.
T.C., the ex-girlfriend who was criminally harassed, cannot be named due to a publication ban on the case.
"There was no remorse or understanding on his part for what he's done, and clearly no change in the individual," she said.
Tracy Jesso, who was attacked by Shrubsall in May 1998, previously had the publication ban lifted on her name. She said "today's sentencing was fair, although two to six years is kind of vague."
K.C., the victim in the June 1998 incident that led to Shrubsall's arrest, also cannot be named due to a publication ban. Watching the sentencing made her think about how the Parole Board of Canada's November 2018 decision led to what happened today.
"I feel worse about what the parole board did than what happened to me in the beginning," she said.
"We had the opportunity to do the right thing [and keep him behind bars] and I believe that it was the wrong decision made for financial reasons and I just don't see how that's OK when it comes to women's safety."
Dangerous offender designation
Shrubsall was declared a dangerous offender by Canadian authorities in 2001 and was given an indeterminate prison sentence, but was granted parole in November 2018.
Shrubsall's lengthy criminal record dates back to his teenage years. In 1988, at age 17, he beat his mother to death with a baseball bat hours before his high school graduation, where he was to be the valedictorian.
The decision to grant Shrubsall parole in Canada was met with outrage by his victims, Nova Scotia's justice minister, the Crown attorney who prosecuted Shrubsall and the lead detective who worked his case.
In making its decision, the Parole Board of Canada said it considered factors such as the "extreme violence" associated with his crimes, the sexual component present in certain cases and the harm inflicted, and weighed it against things such as his "satisfactory" institutional behaviour, completion of core programming and ongoing counselling.
"The psychologist concluded that you continue to present as a high risk to reoffend sexually and that there is no institutional programming that would reduce your risk to a point where it would be manageable in the community," reads the November 2018 decision.
A CBC News investigation revealed that at the November 2018 parole hearing, Shrubsall downplayed his culpability in some of his Halifax crimes and made factual misrepresentations that were not challenged by parole board members, although it's unclear what impact his false and misleading statements had on their final decision.
At the hearing, Shrubsall also revealed his plans for post-incarceration life. He said he had an offer to manage the accounting books for a trucking company that would be run by a man named Norman Walters.
When the parole board members asked how Shrubsall knew Walters, he said he was incarcerated with him. But the two board members didn't ask for additional information and no mention was made of Walters's record of violent sex offences.
When Shrubsall was deported to the U.S., he tried to have the bail jumping charge dropped, arguing that his right to a speedy trial was violated.
Last fall, Kloch Sr. ruled that wasn't was the case.
"Though a lengthy delay, the initial reason must be laid solely at the defendant's feet," wrote Kloch. "He failed to appear for trial in New York; fled to Canada; committed and was convicted of several violent crimes and received a lengthy term of incarceration at the hands of the Canadian authorities."
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