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Convicted Alberta sex offender classified as ‘serial rapist’ moving to Vancouver

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Convicted AB sex offender classified as ‘serial rapist’ moving to Vancouver
Matthew McKnight will be living in an undisclosed halfway house in Vancouver. The former club promoter was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting five women between 2010 and 2016. Kristen Robinson reports. – Feb 22, 2024

A convicted sex offender who Alberta Crown counsel classified as a serial rapist is moving to Vancouver where he’ll be living at a halfway house while on parole.

Matthew McKnight worked as an event promoter at several bars and clubs in Edmonton before he was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting five women between 2010 and 2016.

Court heard McKnight offered free alcohol to his 18 to 22-year-old victims at his workplaces, then assaulted them at his downtown apartment.

The Crown said the women testified that when they regained consciousness they didn’t know where they were – and had no memory of how they got there.

Vancouver police said Wednesday they are aware McKnight has obtained parole and has indicated he intends to live in the city.

“We believe he has family here, so some supports here,” said Sgt. Steve Addison in an interview. “We understand the concern that people will have with the knowledge that somebody who’s got a violent and a predatory past is now going to be living in Vancouver,” he added.

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Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma originally sentenced McKnight to 16-and-a-half years in prison but mitigating factors saw that time cut to eight years – including a one-year reduction after the former club promoter was the victim of an assault while in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre and another year off because he was a first-time offender with “excellent chances to rehabilitate.”

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At the time, Alberta Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said the system needs to do better in dealing with allegations of sexual violence.

“We’ll ask this rhetorical question, ‘Is this sentence of eight years for somebody who is legally classified as a serial rapist, is that adequate?’,” Huyser-Wierenga said outside court on July 31, 2020.

The Crown appealed what it felt was a “demonstrably unfit” sentence, telling the Court of Appeal McKnight should receive 22 1/2 years because he was premeditative in offering women free alcohol at the bars where he was working before he took them home and assaulted them.

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“It’s not a case about casual sex,” Crown prosecutor Matthew Griener told the court in February 2023. “It’s a case about serial rape.”

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Convicted sex offender in Young Canadians case granted day parole

Alberta’s top court ended up increasing McKnight’s sentence to 11 years.

A year later, the former club promoter’s day parole, first reported by The Globe and Mail which attended his Feb. 16 parole hearing, is a concern for organizations that assist victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

“It is sadly, I think, one of those really depressing moments in the way in which the criminal legal system does fail victims of sexual assault in so many ways,” said Battered Women’s Support Services executive director Angela Marie MacDougall.

“Yes, there was a conviction on some of the charges – unfortunately the criminal legal system cut his sentence really short and now he’s on day parole…and we have to contemplate what it’s going to mean for him to be in Vancouver.”

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The VPD said its high-risk offender team has been in touch with parole officers in Edmonton and will be working with the Vancouver parole office to determine if a wider public warning is needed.

“That’s certainly something that we could consider (but it’s) not a step that were taking at this point,” said Addison Wednesday. “You can expect us to respond immediately if we become aware of any new criminal offences or breaches of his release conditions.”

Global News has requested a copy of McKnight’s parole documents.

The Parole Board of Canada said the Board has 15 days to complete their written decision.

 – With files from The Canadian Press

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