Sechelt's David Holmes says he isn't afraid of extradition because it will give him another chance to fight his sexual imposition charge in the U.S.
Holmes was convicted on two counts of gross sexual imposition for touching a three-year-old girl inappropriately in 2006 while he was living in Dublin, Ohio, although he pled not guilty at the trial and has always proclaimed his innocence.
He served 126 days of a one-year jail sentence for the crime before being released on bond while waiting for his appeal to be heard in court.
The appeal was denied, and a subsequent attempt to have the Franklin County ruling overturned in the Supreme Court of Ohio was also denied. While waiting for the judgments, Holmes said he was deported back to Canada after a "disgruntled neighbour" called in a complaint that he wasn't adhering to the rules of his B-2 status card.
The card required Holmes to leave the country every six months and re-enter, which he said he did frequently on business by driving across the border.
He claimed that because he could not provide a stamped passport as proof of his exiting the country every six months, he was deported.
He came to Davis Bay to live with his sister, and his wife and children joined him later.
Holmes said he was told not to worry about the U.S. conviction because it had no bearing in Canada.
He and his wife Kathy started what was meant to be a yearly production of The Nutcracker on the Coast through the Coasting Along Theatre Society, and the duo became well known in the dance community.
They said they never tried to "hide" here, but the prosecuting attorney from Franklin County, Ron O'Brien, said he was never told where Holmes was.
"No one's ever advised us that he was up there. Back in, I'm going to say 2009, there was a rumour that's where he was, but there was no confirmation that I know of," O'Brien said.
He explained that it was recently, when someone contacted his office to request a copy of the court documents pertaining to Holmes, that confirmation of his whereabouts was given.
As soon as O'Brien had confirmation of Holmes' address, he issued an extradition order to arrest and return Holmes to Franklin County to serve the remainder of his one-year sentence. That extradition order was sent out on April 2.
"I had to collect a bunch of official documents, get them certified and send them to Washington. They work through the justice ministry and Canada, and as I say, I've talked to some RCMP officials in the Suncoast (sic) area and they gave me the name of somebody that works for the Crown justice ministry and I sent them an email as well," O'Brien said.
"So it's in the process. It's typically not a short or easy process."
Sunshine Coast RCMP are waiting for a Canadian warrant to be issued before they can arrest Holmes, Sgt. Russ Howard told Coast Reporter this week.
Holmes said he is actually looking forward to getting the extradition order served on him so his lawyers can fight the original guilty verdict here in Canada.
He claims that under Canadian law, the videotape that ultimately led the jury to convict him in the U.S. would not have been allowed as evidence.
"I'd fight it [extradition], and in fighting it, it's like an appeals court, your reasons for fighting it, and that's the chance to point out it was a misconviction," Holmes said. "It could actually clear my name."
O'Brien said he wasn't impressed by Holmes' intention to use the Canadian court system.
"He was convicted by a jury, and all this tells me is he's trying to dodge justice and Canada shouldn't let him use their justice system to dodge justice," O'Brien said.
Last week a Lower Mainland newspaper ran a story about Holmes, his connection to The Nutcracker and the extradition order for his arrest. The story caused much concern on the Coast.
Local dance companies quickly distanced themselves from Holmes, with one company that employed his wife Kathy terminating her employment.
A message sent to dance students on the Coast from directors of Dance Works Academy noted a third party had contacted them to bring the issue to their attention and that they had confirmed the Franklin County conviction of Holmes.
"Shocked and concerned, we united with our friend Dominique (Dominique's School of Dance) to investigate the allegations and seek legal council (sic) on what we were allowed to share with our students legally, as we understood it to be our legal obligation to report such an incident to those students who had come into contact with Mr. David Holmes during The Nutcracker," the letter stated, going on to note Holmes would no longer be allowed on school property or to contact any dance students.
Holmes was not employed by any of the dance schools, but rented space with Kathy to teach his own classes from time to time.
Despite the negative reaction in the community, Kathy said many community members are rallying around the couple, who still plan to push forward with producing The Nutcracker again this year.
"We could run this Christmas. We're planning and hoping. It really depends on the community support and the parents and the children," she said.
Holmes maintains his innocence and contends the entire "third party" alert of his record in the U.S. is a "smear campaign" meant to influence the ruling of a completely separate civil court case with a family member that is going to trial in Canada soon.
© Coast Reporter