was an LDS church member and bishop in Lethbridge, Alberta (Canada); sexually assaulted several young girls; confessed to his bishop and a mission president, who told him not to report to police; convicted in 2019; sentenced in September 2020 to five years in prison and made to register as a sex offender

Marvin Harker Case Summary

Marvin Ross Harker was a former Mormon bishop in Raymond, Alberta who sexually abused multiple children.

from CBC:

“Court finds Mormon church blocked southern Alberta police investigation into sex abuse of young girls in 1980s

Meghan Grant · CBC News · Posted: Dec 24, 2019 5:00 AM MT | Last Updated: December 24, 2019

A 51-year-old man who can’t be identified because of a court order was convicted last week of sexually assaulting children in the 1980s. (Google Street View )

More than 30 years ago, the Mormon church participated in the cover-up of the sexual assault of several young girls in southern Alberta, instructing the abuser not to go to police, according to an Alberta judge who has rendered a decision in the case.

These findings are laid out in the decision of Lethbridge Justice Johnna Kubik, who convicted the now 51-year-old man on two counts of sexual assault.

The abuse took place over a seven-year period between 1986 and 1993 when his victims were between the ages of eight and 13 years old.

The assaults included touching, oral sex and digital penetration.

A publication ban is in place on the man’s identity in order to protect his victims. CBC News will call him M.

1987 confession

While on a mission with the Mormon church in 1987, M said he became overwhelmed by guilt regarding the abuse and confessed to a mission president as well as a bishop.

The two church leaders directed M to write letters of apology.

“The Accused was specifically advised by church authorities not to report the matter to police,” Kubik wrote in her decision.

Eventually, M became a bishop in southern Alberta but never disclosed the sexual assaults to his stake president “because he had already dealt with these matters previously and had been told to forget them and to move on.”

M “had no doubt in his mind that he was worthy to be a bishop,” the judge wrote.

“His testimony in court demonstrated his view that the matter was closed for discussion; that he had paid the price already.”
Victim reports M to police

But in 2016, when she learned M held a leadership role within the church, one of the women feared he would victimize other children and reported him to police. 

At that time, he was removed as a bishop.

Earlier this year, M was convicted of similar offences for committing crimes as a youth against three child victims. He was sentenced to two months in jail to be served on weekends.

This summer, M was tried as an adult for further crimes.

In finding him guilty of sexually assaulting two victims, Kubik said she was left with reasonable doubt and acquitted M on a charge relating to the third woman.

M admitted to the abuse of one of the victims, denied all abuse in connection with another and denied he’d assaulted the other after he turned 18.

Kubik will hear sentencing arguments from prosecutors Erin Olsen and Dawn Janecke as well as defence lawyer Robert Bissett in the new year.

M remains out on bail.”

Sources
  1. R v Harker, 2020 ABQB 603 (CanLII)
    view source details | | Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
  2. Court finds Mormon church blocked southern Alberta police investigation into sex abuse of young girls in 1980s - CBC - 2019-12-24
    view source details | 24 Dec 2019 | CBC Canada
  3. Raymond man sentenced to 5 years behind bars in historic sex assault case
    view source details | 17 Sep 2020 | Global News
  4. Women relay trauma of sexual assaults at the hands of Raymond, Alta. man in court
    view source details | 29 Aug 2021 | Global News
  5. Alberta man convicted of historic sex assaults - Global News - 2019-03-04
    view source details | |
  6. Raymond man found guilty in 2nd trial for historic sexual assaults
    view source details | 17 Dec 2019 | Global News
  7. Former Alberta bishop sentenced to prison for historic sex assaults
    view source details | 17 Sep 2020 | Globe and Mail
Sources excerpts
  • R v Harker, 2020 ABQB 603 (CanLII)
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
    Date published/accessed:
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
  • back to online sources list
    Raymond man sentenced to 5 years behind bars in historic sex assault case
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Global News
    Date published/accessed: 17 Sep 2020
    archive 1 | archive 2

    Marvin Ross Harker has been sentenced to five years behind bars after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault dating back decades.

    Madam Justice Johnna Kubik rescinded a publication ban she had ordered at the beginning of the trial, now allowing him to be identified.

    Harker was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault involving two girls and not guilty of charges relating to a third girl.

    Read more: Raymond man found guilty in 2nd trial for historic sexual assaults

    The assaults date back to the late 1980s when Harker would have been 18 years old, the victims between the ages of eight and 13.
    The young girls didn’t come forward for more than 30 years.

    At sentencing, court heard during all those years after the incidents, Harker lived a respectful and crime-free life, was a devoted husband and father and was a faithful member of his church and valued employee at his work.

    An assessment done on Harker deemed him a low risk to re-offend, but Madam Justice Kubik did note the long-term and very significant effects his victims endure to this day.

    The Crown was seeking five to seven years behind bars, the defence was looking for a sentence that would fall short of incarceration, like a suspended or conditional sentence.

    Harker was sentenced to 24 months for one count and 36 months for the second, which will be served consecutively. He’ll also be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life and it’s recommended he complete standardized treatment while in prison.

    He starts serving his sentence immediately.

  • back to online sources list
    Women relay trauma of sexual assaults at the hands of Raymond, Alta. man in court
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Global News
    Date published/accessed: 29 Aug 2021
    archive 1 | archive 2

    The victims of a 52-year-old Raymond man convicted of sexually assaulting two girls in the 1980s and 1990s shared their victim impact statements in court Friday.

    In 2016, a woman came forward to RCMP saying she was sexually abused as a child by a man known to her, and charges were subsequently laid.

    Both women were underage at the time of the assaults, so their names cannot be released due to a court-ordered publication ban to protect their identities.

    In a tearful victim impact statement read Friday, one woman said, “It is quite clear that you have no remorse for the irreversible harm you have caused…

    During Friday’s proceedings, defence referenced the Jordan decision, which requires 30 months between the charges and the trial in a provincial court without preliminary inquiry.

    However, under the context of delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the application was denied.

    The defence requested that the defendant be charged “as if this were 1987, and he was 18 years old,” asking for a lenient sentence.

    Defence argued that moral culpability was impacted by age and by a religious background that limited discussion about consent and sex, also noting his remorse and his rehabilitation through work in the community over the past 30 years.

    However, the Crown argued that he was proven to be a disciplined person capable of suppressing impulses and maintaining responsibility, through his character references, achievements and trusted community roles.

    In addition, the Crown stated the defendant has testified that he knew his actions were wrong, and had continued to abuse one of the victims despite being asked to stop.

    The Crown asked for a sentence of five to seven years, as it would not be about rehabilitation or separating a dangerous offender from society, but rather about the principle of denouncing sex abuse against children.

    Sentencing is scheduled to take place in less than three weeks on September 17.

  • back to online sources list
    Alberta man convicted of historic sex assaults - Global News - 2019-03-04
    Source type: News article
    Publisher:
    Date published/accessed:
    archive 1 | archive 2

    Alberta man convicted of historic sex assaults

    A southern Alberta man has been convicted of historical sexual assaults that date back more than 30 years.

    The man can’t be identified as he was underage at the time off the assaults, as were the victims.

    The 50-year-old Raymond man has been found guilty of one count of indecent assault and three counts of sexual assault.

    The judge dismissed an additional charge of each.

    RCMP laid charges after a woman came forward in 2016 and said she was sexually abused as a child by a man who was known to her. Three other women came forward during the investigation.

    During the trial, the man took the stand in his own defence and admitted to touching two of the girls sexually on multiple occasions. He told court that when the victims eventually told him they didn’t want to be touched, he stopped.

    At the conclusion of the trial, the defence lawyer invited the judge to find his client guilty on four of the six counts, which he judge did on Monday.

    Two of the counts fall under the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which means jail time is not an option for sentencing.

    The remaining two counts are under the youth criminal justice act, where time behind bars could be handed down by the judge.

    The defence is seeking a suspended sentence, which means no jail time, however the crown is seeking a 12 month sentence with probation to follow.

    A sentencing hearing will be scheduled on April 24.

  • back to online sources list
    Raymond man found guilty in 2nd trial for historic sexual assaults
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Global News
    Date published/accessed: 17 Dec 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A 51-year-old man from the town of Raymond was handed his second guilty decision of the year in Lethbridge court on Tuesday, as a judge convicted him of two counts of sexual assault involving two women, dating back to the 1980s.

    Two other counts — one of sexual assault and one of sexual interference — were dropped, after the judge said there were inconsistencies in the testimony of one of the complainants.

    The man cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban to protect the identity of the complainants, all of whom were underage when the alleged acts occurred.

    Earlier this year, the man was convicted of sexually assaulting three girls when he too was a youth, and was sentenced by a youth court judge to 60 days in prison, all to be served on weekends.

    Some of the complainants from the first trial were also complainants in the subsequent trial, dealing with charges against the accused after he turned 18.

    RCMP laid charges after a woman came forward in 2016, saying she was sexually abused as a child by a man who was known to her. During the investigation, more women came forward with similar allegations.

    During testimony, the first victim said she decided to come forward after learning that the accused had been placed in a position of authority in his church.

    While testifying on his own behalf last month, the accused admitted to assaulting one of the girls a couple of times after becoming an adult, but he denied touching the other two after turning 18.

    While waiting for Tuesday’s decision, the accused sat stoically next to his lawyer as the judge stated that she did not find the accused to be a credible witness, based on inconsistencies in his testimony between the two trials.

    The 51-year-old was required to hand over his passport on Tuesday following the decision.

    A sentencing date will be set on Jan. 13.

  • back to online sources list
    Former Alberta bishop sentenced to prison for historic sex assaults
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Globe and Mail
    Date published/accessed: 17 Sep 2020
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A former bishop of a Mormon church in southern Alberta has been sentenced to five years in prison for multiple sexual assaults on two young girls in the 1980s and 90s.

    Marvin Ross Harker, 52, was convicted in December of two counts of sexual assault.

    Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench heard the abuse took place from 1986 and 1993, when the victims were between the ages of eight and 13, near the hamlet of Diamond City.

    Mr. Harker was a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the nearby town of Raymond when allegations were made against him in 2016. He was removed from his role.

    “They are crimes of violence. The victims were young … both girls were sexually innocent and the commission of these offences at a time they were unable to understand what was happening to them has had life long consequences,” Justice Johnna Kubik said during sentencing Thursday.

    “The offences committed against the victims in this case are grave offences characterized by repeated, major sexual assaults.”

    At the request of the Crown and the victims, Justice Kubik removed a publication ban on Mr. Harker’s identity.

    Justice Kubik said Mr. Harker was between 18 and 19 years of age when the assaults began and he blamed an introduction to pornography for his “distorted” behaviour toward females.

    “The assaults involved a pattern of abuse and occurred with such frequency that they became normalized for the victims. These were not rash acts,” Justice Kubik told the court.

    “Additionally, during the trial, Mr. Harker agreed that by virtue of his upbringing and religious faith he knew that what he was doing was wrong.”

    A psychiatric report noted that Mr. Harker is at a low risk to reoffend, but aggravating factors include his extreme minimization or denial of sexual violence. It recommended his access to places with children under the age of 16 be restricted.

    Justice Kubik said Mr. Harker had lived an exemplary life over the 33 years since the assaults, but his moral blameworthiness is high. She said the victims have expressed a lifetime of anxiety, guilt and belief that they are morally unclean.

    “On the basis of all of the facts in this case, I am satisfied a period of imprisonment is required to ensure a fit and just sentence.”

    The Crown had asked for a sentence of between five and seven years. The defence had recommended a suspended or conditional sentence.

    The judge sentenced Mr. Harker to 24 months on one of the charges and 36 months on the other, to be served consecutively, for a total of five years.

    Justice Kubik also ordered Mr. Harker to submit his DNA and have his name added to the national sex offender registry.

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