B.C. man sentenced to 12 years for 'horrific and violent' stranger sex assaults on 4 women

·3 min read

A B.C.man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually assaulting four women he didn't know in a series of attacks in public places on the Lower Mainland in 2016.

Michal Popek was sentenced after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual assault for attacks on young women across Vancouver and Burnaby.

The judge who handed down the sentence Nov. 23 in a B.C. provincial court says the repeated pattern of Popek's "significantly horrific and violent offences" was a factor in determining the sentence and in imposing a 10-year supervision order after his release.

"All four women suffered serious psychological trauma," wrote judge Ellen Gordon in his sentence. "While sexual assaults of strangers on the street are exceptionally rare, they are every woman's worst nightmare, and there are four women here for whom that nightmare became a reality."

Violent attacks on strangers in public

The 40-year-old man was arrested in April 2016 after attempting to flee the scene where he had attacked and groped a woman in broad daylight.

All four of Popek's victims were strangers he attacked in public places, sometimes in broad daylight, taking them by surprise while they walked alone.

The most brutal of the attacks, in which Popek assaulted a 17-year-old girl on a trail in Burnaby in February 2016, resulted in five years being added to his sentence.

Popek threw the girl to the ground and partially removed her clothing. For over half an hour, by the victim's estimate, he licked her genitals, bit her breast and penetrated her vaginally and anally before fleeing.

The victim, who came to Canada from China for her studies, still has large scars on her legs from the attack, according to her statement. She continues to live in fear she could be attacked again and keeps self-defence tools with her at all times.

"The criminal justice system is not designed to repair the harm caused to victims of crime," said the judge in his sentencing statement. "It would be ridiculously naive to believe that that trauma will go away once I impose the sentence I am about to impose."

Conditions to reduce risk of reoffending

With credit for time already served, there is a little over five years left on Popek's sentence.

Following his release, Popek's name will be on the sexual offender registry for the rest of his life. He must provide a DNA sample and he will be required to inform police where he is living on an annual basis.

According to risk assessments by both the Crown and the defence's medical experts, Popek is "a low risk to reoffend and is treatable."

In his sentencing statement, Gordon agreed with the Crown submission that Popek's risk to reoffend could be reduced by cognitive behaviour therapy, abstention from intoxicants, and sex‑drive‑reducing medication.

The judge recommends that the parole board include those conditions in Popek's long‑term supervision order.