Former Penticton politician pleads guilty to sex assaults

Gary Leaman leaves the Penticton courthouse following his arraignment hearing on Jan. 29, 2014. - Mark Brett/Western News
Gary Leaman leaves the Penticton courthouse following his arraignment hearing on Jan. 29, 2014.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

A former Penticton city councillor and mayoral candidate has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.

Gary Allan Leaman, 58, entered guilty pleas at an arraignment hearing Jan. 29, 2014, but his name was subject to a publication ban ordered that day.

Due to Leaman’s former high profile, however, the Western News applied to a provincial court judge to have the ban modified in order to name him.

Judge Meg Shaw said Thursday in her decision on the application that she erred in granting the ban on Leaman’s name and reversed it to only cover information related to the identities of the victims.

The lawyer who assisted the Western News with its application was pleased by the decision.

“The public has a right to know. Publicity is a big part of the deterrent, and the Western News should be commended for not accepting the initial ban and applying to change it,”  said Vancouver-based David F. Sutherland, who provides counsel to newspapers within the chain owned by Western News parent company Black Press.

Leaman was not in the courtroom Thursday.

“Please be compassionate,” he told a reporter following his arraignment hearing, at which he appeared with a full beard and longer hair than he’d worn previously.

The offences to which he pleaded guilty took place between 2009 and 2011. The charges were approved in November 2013.

Leaman retired in October 2013 from his job as manager of the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.

He’d been running the facility for 26 years, but told the Western News he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Leaman served one term as a city councillor from 2002 to 2005, but was not re-elected. He also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2008 and again for council in 2011.

In the 2011 election, Leaman was just 91 votes shy of beating John Vassilaki for the last seat on council.

Leaman has been ordered to undergo psychiatric, psychological and risk assessments that will be taken into consideration at sentencing. He’s due back in court on March 26.

Leaman faces up to 18 months in jail on each count.



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