(Black Press File Photo)

B.C. advocate against sexual violence files for mistrial after sex assault conviction

Founder of Fortress Foundation found guilty of 2017 sexual assault

Defence lawyers for a Saanich man found guilty of breaking into the home of a woman and sexually assaulting filed for a mistrial Friday – less than 24 hours prior to his sentencing hearing.

Joel James Conway was scheduled to appear in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria Friday morning, but the hearing was adjourned.

Conway, surrounded by friends and family, was in a notably positive mood following the adjournment, hugging and laughing outside the courtroom.

The courts will proceed at 11:30 a.m. to determine the next steps to move forward.

Conway had founded the now-dissolved Fortress Foundation, a Victoria-based non-profit organization that, in its mission statement, says it is “focused on eliminating gender-based violence and preventing sexually exploitative behaviour through education, empowerment and engagement of men to become equipped to end exploitation.” 

Conway, self-identified as a former porn-addict, told Black Press Media in May 2016 that he decided to get help for his addiction after finding himself unable to listen to a female motivational speaker at a conference.

“I realized there was something there that just wasn’t right and a lot of it was deeply-seated in my connection with porn and the ideology that women are less than,” he said at the time.

Conway was convicted of sexual assault by Supreme Court Justice Frtiz Verhoeven on March 26.

The judgment details how, after a conference in Vancouver in March 2017, Conway told his wife he would be taking the 7 a.m. ferry back to Victoria, but instead took the 9 p.m. ferry on March 30 so he could spend the night out partying with a friend, referred to as ‘Mr. S’ in the court judgment.

READ ALSO: Saanich man convicted of sexual assault once behind non-profit fighting ‘sexually exploitative behaviour’

After a night of drinking, he and the friend crossed paths with A.B. – who was already acquainted with Mr. S, and all three decided to share a taxi in the direction of A.B.’s home.

Once at A.B.’s home, they consumed vodka and cocaine before Conway and Mr.S. left in a taxi in the early hours of the morning.

Court documents detail how A.B. then double-checked her door was locked – also latching it with a chain door latch – before going up to her bedroom and falling asleep or “passing out.”

She said she awoke to find Conway naked in her room before he proceeded to rape her.

The judgment does not illustrate how Conway re-entered the home, as the door was latched, but Crown counsel suggested that he used the balcony to gain access.

READ ALSO: Woman gets two years’ probation after having sex with 13-year-old boy

Conway said that as he and Mr. S had left in the taxi, he had told his friend he wanted to return to A.B.’s home because he “thought he had a chance” with her. His friend discouraged him from doing so, but Conway said he had given her his phone number to which he alleges she texted him, “Hey, hurry back.”

Conway said that A.B. let him in through the front door and the encounter that followed was consensual – although the door, which has an automatic lock and recording system – did not make record of the door being opened from the inside.

In his judgment, Verhoeven rejected the notion that A.B. wanted Conway to return, saying she was “exhausted and intoxicated, and wanted to go to bed.”

Later, Verhoeven stated that “there is no evidence that A.B. invited him to return, or that she allowed him into her residence, or that tends to suggest that she consented to sexual activity.”

With files from Nina Grossman



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Accident, downed power lines closes Highway 4 west of Port Alberni

Detour is available near Hector Road as BC Hydro crews work to restore power

Huu-ay-aht First Nations qualify for national wage subsidy

Limited partnership structure caused concern when CEWS was first introduced

ARTS AROUND: Giant Book Sale has new date, new location

Book sale will take place in November at Alberni Athletic Hall

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Yukon writer reads at virtual Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Joanna Lilley will make her appearance on May 27

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Most Read