In an unusual campaign tactic a past and potentially future mayoral candidate is stepping forward to discuss his arrest for procuring juvenile prostitution weeks before the matter gets to court.
“I’m not hiding it, I am telling you right now. The thing is you can judge me at the polls if you don’t like what I have been charged with, or my particular type of behaviour then don’t vote for me,” said Benjamin Wolfe, who is still planning on running in November’s municipal elections.
Wolfe, who ran for the City of Penticton mayor in 2008, told the Western News he is due in court on Sept. 7 for charges of procuring juvenile prostitution.
“A lot of politicians or wanna-be politicians don’t come out with what is affecting their lives before they run or when they get elected. The press dig and find things out that negatively affect their profiles. So I am not afraid of the truth and I am not afraid of putting it out to the public,” said Wolfe. “What I want to basically give out to the public is I have been assumed to have committed this offence against the Criminal Code of juvenile prostitution. I am fully aware of my actions, my responsibility, the consequences and I don’t want people to think because there have been two violent rapes in this area here that I am that type of person.”
Wolfe said he has been accused of being a client, or John, of a minor under the age of 18. On July 22, Penticton RCMP arrested a Penticton man on charges of a parent/guardian procuring a child under the age of 18 for prohibited sexual activity and living on the avails of prostitution. His name is subject to a publication ban.
“I was a client of hers. I employed her service not against her will. There was no alcohol or drugs involved. It was all consent, consent, consent,” said Wolfe, who intends to argue he was told she was of age.
While one might assume his role in this evolving story would put him on the defensive, he’s instead questioning the efficiency of the Mounties. Wolfe pointed out the juvenile prostitution investigation started in late May and the man accused of being a pimp wasn’t apprehended until July 22.
“The police drive by there all the time and they’ve seen her, but they waited two months to take any type of action. You don’t sit on that bench at 6:30 at night when there is no buses running and not know that is what she is dong. Girls do not sit on that bench just to take a rest. They sit at that bench by the Soupateria because they are working girls,” said Wolfe.
RCMP issues aside, Wolfe said he’s concerned the allegation will impact his election results.
“Because of what has happened with the two recent sexual assaults (David Bobbitt and Ronald Teneycke) … they will take a very dim view of me. They will be disgusted with me. They will have no sympathy for me. Like I say, I’m innocent until proven guilty and I will prove my innocence in a court of law,” said Wolfe.
City of Penticton corporate officer Marjorie Whalen said when it comes to a criminal record, you can only be disqualified from running for local government office if you are under a sentence for an indictable offence and are in custody or in prison. On the same note, if they are in office already and are convicted, they can stay as long as they aren’t going to jail.
One example of this is Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young. He was found guilty of assault and sentenced to a one-year conditional sentence in 2008. Young kept his position despite calls for his resignation from the existing council. Provincial legislation does not give councillors the authority to remove someone from office unless they are absent for four consecutive meetings or away for 60 days.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada procuring a juvenile for prostitution has a minimum sentence of six months and up to five years of jail time.
In the 2008 election, Wolfe finished last out of the five mayoral candidates with 96 votes. At that time he said he was the owner of a touring and guiding business that provided non-sexual companionship for business people. He ran on a platform of eliminating red tape for businesses, eliminating paid parking and building more affordable housing.