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This article was published 28/9/2018 (1209 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A dangerous offender who told police he had been violent toward at least 100 women working in the sex trade on Winnipeg streets awaits his prison sentence, as two of his victims struggle to cope with the aftermath of the violence inflicted on them.
Crown and defence lawyers agreed this week 54-year-old Douglas Bowman should be declared a dangerous offender, after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two women at knifepoint. After he was arrested for those crimes, he admitted he may have done the same to many other women he picked up as sex workers over the past two decades.
Despite the dangerous-offender designation, which can carry an indefinite, potentially lifelong sentence, both sides agreed Bowman should be given a fixed-term sentence and be under strict supervision upon his release, even though the risk of him committing other sexual offences was assessed as being high.
It's up to Court of Queen's Bench Justice Joan McKelvey to decide how long Bowman should spend in prison. She reserved her decision Friday, after hearing Crown prosecutors are seeking a 20-year sentence and Bowman's defence lawyers want a nine- to 11-year sentence.
After serving his sentence, Bowman will be under a 10-year supervision order. He'll be on the sex offender registry and will be banned from possessing weapons for life.
Bowman's confessions to Winnipeg police during a 13-hour video-recorded statement after his arrest in September 2014 factored heavily into the decision to designate him a dangerous offender.
He told police he'd been with 200 to 300 sex workers over the past 26 years, and about half of those encounters had turned violent. He said he had brandished a knife 50 per cent of the time. and normally looked for sex workers who were petite, targeting them for a feeling of control as well as sexual desire. His defence lawyers questioned the truth of those admissions, arguing the judge shouldn't give them too much weight because of Bowman's cognitive impairment. (McKelvey previously acknowledged the police interview contained leading questions.)
Bowman, who has a record of committing sexual offences in the 1970s and 1980s, was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and shows psychopathic traits, according to one of two forensic psychiatrists who assessed him and reported their findings to the court. Both said Bowman is likely a "sexual sadist" who gets pleasure from others' suffering.
Bowman told police he'd been with 200 to 300 sex workers over the past 26 years, and about half of those encounters had turned violent. He said he had brandished a knife 50 per cent of the time.
He was also assessed as being cognitively impaired, lacking verbal skills to express himself and still suffering as an adult from childhood neglect and physical abuse. He was hospitalized for six months as a child after his father beat him, his lawyer said in court.
During Bowman's sentencing hearing Friday, Crown prosecutor Geoffrey Bayly was nearing the end of his arguments in favour of a 20-year sentence when Bowman scratched his own face in frustration. Court had to take a break so he could receive medical attention. When the hearing resumed two hours later, Bowman had red marks all over his face, from his forehead down to his cheeks.
Defence lawyer Laura Robinson told the judge Bowman was having trouble listening to all of the details the Crown brought up, including details of the sexual assaults he still denies and details of his own childhood abuse. She said he worries about dying in jail and feels "hopeless" hearing the Crown's argument he should be locked up for a long time because he's a high risk to reoffend.
Bowman has refused to participate in sex offender treatment programs only because he wants to appeal his conviction and doesn't want to be seen as admitting his guilt, Robinson said.
McKelvey convicted him in July 2017 of two counts of sexual assault with a weapon and two counts of uttering death threats after two women came forward with allegations Bowman had pulled a knife and subjected them to vicious attacks inside his vehicle while they were working in the North End in 2010 and 2013. Both wrote victim-impact statements that were filed in court Friday.
A third woman who came forward with similar allegations was likely also attacked by Bowman, McKelvey decided, but he wasn't convicted on those allegations because her testimony didn't meet the legal standard. None of the victims can be identified under a court-ordered publication ban.
The woman who went to police in April 2013, allowing investigators to link Bowman to two previous sexual-assault reports from 2010, wrote she's still dealing with the physical and mental effects of the attack years later. Bowman used her pepper spray against her after he violently sexually assaulted her at knifepoint and pushed her out of his van.
"I'm still dealing with the aftermath of what this monster did to me. I often ask myself will this ever go away? Will I ever be able to move on from this?" she wrote in her victim-impact statement.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.