Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-Reform party candidate admits second sexual assault

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A former Reform party candidate has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young man he was counselling through a Winnipeg Christian educational group.

It's the second related conviction for Terry Lewis, who was spared a jail sentence in 2003 for having sex with a teenage boy he worked with in the late 1970s through a church youth group.

Lewis, now 60, asked a judge Wednesday to impose yet another conditional sentence that allows him to remain in the community. But the Crown says Lewis has committed two shocking breaches of trust which cry out for stiffer sanctions.

Queen's Bench Justice Albert Clearwater has reserved his decision until Feb. 9. Lewis remains free on bail.

One of the unique issues for the judge to consider is the sequence of events that transpired.

Lewis was first arrested for the initial incident of gross indecency and indecent assault, which occurred between June 1976 and December 1979.

He pleaded guilty to that offence in 2003 and was given a one-year conditional penalty. Just days later, another young adult male came forward to say Lewis had sexually assaulted him between the years 2000 and 2002. He was a client of Lewis, who was working for Christians Influencing Education.

Lewis's lawyer, Sheldon Pinx, told court Wednesday his client shouldn't be unfairly punished now for crimes that predated his previous sentencing hearing. He said the fact Lewis has not re-offended for nearly seven years shows he doesn't need to be sent to prison.

But Clearwater noted the judge who gave Lewis a conditional sentence wasn't aware of the more recent sexual allegations that hadn't come to light. "I'm not convinced that had these (newer allegations) come before the sentencing judge (in 2003) that a conditional sentence would have been in order."

Lewis apologized in court Wednesday, blaming his actions on being depressed and suicidal.

"The parents trusted me to help their son, the son trusted me to help him, and I failed miserably," he said.

Pinx said his client is continuing to do counselling and administrative work with Christians Influencing Education, but has no direct contact with children. The organization tendered a letter of support for Lewis in court Wednesday.

Lewis previously served on the national executive council of the Reform party, which ultimately became the Canadian Alliance before morphing into the Conservative Party of Canada. He ran unsuccessfully for the Reform Party in the 1997 federal election.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2009 B2

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