A North Okanagan man who was found guilty of several criminal offences involving sex-trade workers was removed this week from a Kitimat LNG worksite following a community outcry.
The organization Matriarchs in Training put out an alert that Curtis Sagmoen was living in one of the town’s four LNG work camps.
Within days a man who they believe to be Sagmoen, was “removed from the site” by LNG Canada and left the community.
“The LNG Canada project team took this decision quickly following a safety assessment focused on the individual, the project site and the community and we have now executed that plan,” LNG said in a press release.
The company went on to say that its commitment to the safety and security of its worksite, its employees and its neighbours was paramount and it would work closely with local authorities, government officials, First Nations and law enforcement to continuously monitor and assess the safety and well-being of the local community and the surrounding areas.
“We have also initiated a review of the process that led to this individual being on our worksite,” reads the statement.
“We care deeply about the community and will continue to keep people on our site and in the community safe.”
Gladys Radek is the founder of Matriarchs in Training, the Terrace area group that flagged Sagmoen’s presence based on “safety concerns regarding the influx of persons into (B.C.) communities through man camps.”
Radek’s sources have said “he was removed by security immediately and escorted to the airport.”
“I think he was removed so quickly because of the Matriarchs in Training making a public awareness campaign,” said Radek, a longtime human rights activist who has focused years of her life raising attention about MMIWG.
When that campaign to alert the community to Sagmoen’s presence went into motion, she said, graffiti on the Kitimat mall saying “LNG Canada hires serial killers” popped up and LNG Canada acted.
“That’s what we do. We raise awareness when there are predators in the community. We need to make people aware when they’re there. I have a 15-year-old granddaughter, I don’t want to see that happen to my children or anyone else’s sister, mother or daughter.”
Radek said she has grave concerns about what’s happening in these small communities with the influx of some 5,000 to 6,000 strong workforce comprised primarily of men.
“Drinking, sexual assaults, and beatings and everything rises when man camps are in the vicinity,” she said.
Terrace saw a sharp uptick in crime in recent years. It jumped from being the 79th most dangerous city in Canada for 2018 to the eighth most dangerous in 2019, according to Maclean Magazine’s annual Crime Severity Index (CSI) report. This January, Stats Canada ranked it 15th.
Radek said she was impressed that LNG Canada responded so quickly, but hopes that there are more measures in place to make sure that people with criminal records, particularly those who have a history of violence against women, are better vetted.
“Once it was brought to their attention, they acted quickly,” she said. “But contractors and subcontractors need to do criminal record checks.”
Sagmoen has captured public attention since the remains of missing 18-year-old Traci Genereaux were found on his family’s North Okanagan farm in 2017.
No one has been charged in relation to her death and Sagmoen has not been named as a suspect.
On Oct. 21, 2020, just over a week before an alleged assault against a peace officer, police took an unusual step in issuing a public warning, telling people involved in the sex trade not to respond to any requests for service in the rural area where Sagmoen’s family property is located.
The police warning said Sagmoen lived in the area and was under a probation order that required him not to have contact with people working in the sex trade.
Sagmoen has previously been convicted in three cases where the victims worked as escorts.
In June 2020, Sagmoen was sentenced to time served plus three years of probation for hitting a woman with a quad in 2017.
The assault with the quad occurred after Sagmoen invited the victim to a rural area to work as an escort.
In a separate 2017 incident, Sagmoen was found to have been wearing a disguise and brandishing a shotgun when he jumped out of the bushes, frightening the escort whom he had invited to meet him and causing her to flee in fear.
In a third case, Sagmoen was convicted of assault.
— with files from Megan Turcato