A Newfoundland man who has already served time for abusing two of his former girlfriends pleaded guilty to assaulting a third in a virtual Ontario courtroom Friday morning.
Kevin Evans, 32, entered guilty pleas to five counts of assault against Jessica Donald, whom he dated between 2017 and 2018. Other charges, including sexual assault and choking, were withdrawn as part of a plea agreement.
"It's really a relief just because he's changed things so many times through the last four years that I didn't have a whole lot of faith that he was actually going to go through with it," Donald said following Friday's hearing.
"I definitely think it's made me stronger, 'cause I never thought I would have to deal with something like this. And in the beginning I didn't really know if I was going to be able to, but I did and I'm proud of myself for that."
Wearing glasses and a white collared shirt, Evans told Justice Erika Chozik at Superior Court in Milton, Ont., that he understood the charges to which he was pleading guilty.
The hearing, held on Zoom, lasted about half an hour. But for Donald it was a long time coming.
The Burlington woman first went to police in January 2019, months after ending her abusive relationship with Evans. CBC News later went to court to have the publication ban covering Donald's identity lifted, making way for her to publicly tell her story using her real identity.
Evans fought the application, but the judge ultimately sided with the CBC.
The case was later delayed when Evans requested that CBC News and the Toronto Sun hand over their raw interviews with Donald, and for Donald's private medical records.
He later withdrew that request.
Incidents of choking
Crown prosecutor Nick Chiera spelled out the facts of the case, including incidents when Evans punched, choked and twisted Donald's arm — all during fits of rage and jealousy.
On more than one occasion, Evans grabbed Donald's throat with two hands and squeezed, the court was told. She was left with bruises on her neck and throat, and had gone to her doctor and hospital but did not disclose the abuse.
In November 2017, the two got in an argument outside a bar. When Donald went to leave, Evans took her car keys and threw them toward a river. Donald climbed down to get the keys but Evans followed, grabbed her left arm and twisted it. Donald went to hospital and was required to wear a sling.
In September 2018, at the end of their relationship, Evans became suspicious over a text message he found on Donald's phone and punched her in the ribs.
"When asked why Donald waited six months to report the assaults, she said she found out a new girlfriend was abused and didn't want it to happen to anyone else," Chiera told the court.
That new girlfriend was Lindsay Plank, who had moved to St. John's from Ontario with Evans following his breakup from Donald.
She too was subjected to abuse and went to police in St. John's.
In January 2020, Evans pleaded guilty to assaulting Plank and Ashley McVean, whom he started dating after Plank.
As in Donald's case, Evans physical and verbally assaulted Plank and McVean, often during accusations of cheating and jealousy.
Evans served 169 days in jail awaiting a resolution to his case, and was released immediately upon sentencing with an 18-month probation order.
Together in trauma and survival
Donald and Plank, tied together by circumstance and assault, have become staunch supporters of one another.
Plank attended Friday's virtual hearing in support of Donald, facing her former abuser, who she says has irreparably changed her life.
"As a previous victim — continuous victim — of Kevin Evans we need to stick together because this is clearly a continuous pattern from Kevin. and in order to show our support with each other, we've followed the case from start to finish for all three of us," Plank said.
"I want to know at the end of the day that hopefully justice will be served."
Plank said she feels the justice system failed all three women with the punishment that has been laid out, and what is expected to be handed down this fall.
Justice Erika Chozik set the sentencing over until Nov. 25 to allow time for a pre-sentence report.
She is not requesting that Evans attend in person.
"I'm not going to make him travel from Newfoundland. I understand money is tight," Chozik said.
"I won't make him travel from Newfoundland to Milton for sentencing proceedings."
Donald said it's clear her abuser will not be remanded into custody for his crimes, and that it is expected he will receive house arrest.
That's not good enough, according to Plank.
"Money is tight and you can't travel to Ontario? I don't care. He just pleaded guilty to abusing women and you're just going to let him walk around for another two months like nothing happened?" Plank said.
"The justice system makes no sense."