Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Arrest in sex assaults at clinic

Suspect in attack at dental office has long history of violence

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A high-risk Winnipeg sex offender is facing his most serious charges yet after he allegedly walked into a dental clinic and attacked two female employees.

The incident, which occurred Friday afternoon, has left the women and their co-workers shaken. Police say the victims, aged 36 and 43, were forced into separate rooms and sexually assaulted by a man armed with a weapon.

One of the women was able to fight the accused, who fled the scene.

Joshua James Turner, 30, was arrested Friday evening. He is charged with two counts each of sexual assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and uttering threats.

Turner was held in custody without bail. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.

Staff at the dental clinic declined to comment Monday. The Free Press is not publishing specific information about the business to protect the identities of the victims.

Justice sources were left shaking their heads upon learning a man who has been well-entrenched in the system is accused of such a brazen attack. They speculated the Crown could seek a dangerous-offender designation -- and the indefinite prison sentence that comes with it -- if the allegations are ultimately proven.

Court records obtained by the Free Press show Turner has more than 30 convictions on his record dating back to 2003. They include two prior sexual assaults, numerous counts of harassment and indecent phone calls and multiple offences of breaching court orders. All of his offences have previously resulted in short stints behind bars combined with probation orders, which have included mandatory sex-offender treatment and counselling.

Turner's most recent contact with the system came in February 2010 when he was sentenced to six months in custody for a variety of breaches. There appear to have been no outstanding court orders or conditions attached to him at present.

Winnipeg police made a public plea for information about Turner in 2008 after he vanished from a halfway house, only days after being released from Headingley jail. His photo and background were circulated to the media. Police said at the time they had concerns about his risk to the public because of a lack of treatment and that "all females were at risk."

Police arrested Turner hours later after he was caught on camera breaking into downtown businesses and using their phones and computers to look at pornography and call phone-sex hotlines. He ultimately received three years of supervised probation for those offences.

A similar public alert was issued in 2009. Turner was rearrested days later and accused of locking a woman inside her downtown office and asking for sex.

He was ultimately convicted of more breach charges for that incident.

A third police warning was issued in 2010 when Turner went missing.

Police initially said they were concerned about his well-being because of "health issues."

Turner was found later that week and charged with breaching his probation order once again. That was his most recent brush with the law until last Friday's arrest.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2013 A5

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