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B.C. man facing extradition to U.S. for alleged sex crimes against stepdaughter

The courthouse in Victoria is shown in this file photo (CTV News) The courthouse in Victoria is shown in this file photo (CTV News)
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A Vancouver Island man is awaiting possible extradition to the United States on charges of sexual assault against his 13-year-old stepdaughter.

A B.C. Supreme Court ordered the man into custody last week pending a decision by the federal justice minister on whether or not to surrender the accused to authorities south of the border.

The accused, who is identified in court documents as J.L., is sought by U.S. federal authorities on behalf of the state of Utah.

According to the judge's decision published Tuesday, J.L. is accused of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter continuously from June 2012 to June 2014.

The offences are alleged to have occurred in St. George, Utah, where J.L. lived with his stepdaughter and her mother, to whom he was married at the time.

According to court documents, the stepdaughter told her mother about the alleged abuse in June 2014, but the allegations were not reported to police until that November.

J.L. left Utah that same month and U.S. authorities charge that he "fled" to Canada, while J.L. told the court that he was planning to move back to Canada as his marriage had ended.

"He says his return to Canada had nothing to do with the fact that the complainant spoke to the police that same day," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brian D. MacKenzie said.

J.L. was charged in June 2015, prompting Utah police to issue a warrant for his arrest.

During a 2021 extradition hearing, J.L. testified that he left Canada in May 2015, travelling and working in several countries before returning to Canada in October 2019.

He testified that upon his return he obtained a B.C. driver's licence under the Sooke, B.C., address where the RCMP later found and arrested him on June 16, 2020.

"J.L. emphasizes the fact that he travelled throughout many countries on his Canadian passport between 2015 and 2019 and was never arrested or detained," the judge said.

"He points out he returned to Canada with his valid Canadian passport without incident. It was only after approximately nine months during which time he lived with his parents in Sooke, did he or his family have any contact with a law enforcement agency."

J.L. argued the five-year delay in seeking his extradition to the U.S. is contrary to the principles of fundamental justice under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The judge ruled the delay was not sufficient to render the extradition hearing unfair.

"What the U.S. authorities may or may not have done in trying to locate J.L. and whether their efforts were 'continuous and considerable'… is not a circumstance that in my view renders the extradition process unfair or amounts to a denial of fundamental justice such that this is one of those exceptional cases where the extradition proceeding should be stayed," the judge said.

The judge ordered J.L. into custody to await an extradition decision by Justice Minister David Lametti.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, J.L. cannot be extradited to the U.S. until 30 days after the judge's commitment order. He has a right to appeal the order and apply for a judicial interim release from custody.

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