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B.C. man with attempted kidnapping conviction sentenced for voyeurism at community pool

Mark Istephan, 52, was found guilty of voyeurism in January, eight months after he was arrested at the SEAPARC recreation centre in Sooke, B.C. (Port Moody Police Department) Mark Istephan, 52, was found guilty of voyeurism in January, eight months after he was arrested at the SEAPARC recreation centre in Sooke, B.C. (Port Moody Police Department)

A British Columbia man who was previously convicted for the attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after he tried to watch a woman shower at a community pool on Vancouver Island.

Mark Istephan, 52, was found guilty of voyeurism in January, eight months after he was arrested at the Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission (SEAPARC) recreation centre in Sooke, B.C.

At trial, Western Communities provincial court Judge Ted Gouge heard that the victim – who is identified only as Z.R. in court documents – had been swimming at the community centre on the morning of May 4, 2023.

After returning to the gender-neutral change room and showering in a private cubicle, she saw the shadow of a man in the adjoining cubicle "who appeared to be attempting to observe her by peering through the space between the bottom of the cubicle wall and the floor," the judge wrote in his decision published Thursday.

The woman fled the change room and reported the incident to the reception desk. Police were called and Istephan was arrested.

"The evidence at trial convinced me that he was the person in the adjoining cubicle and that he had attempted to watch Z.R. as she showered and dressed," the judge found.

"Z.R. was terrified by the incident, and continues to suffer anxiety as a result of it, particularly when using public recreation facilities."

Prior convictions and mental health

The court heard that Istephan graduated high school in 1989 and successfully completed a two-year community college program.

But in 2001, when he was in his early 30s, he attempted to pull a 13-year-old girl into his car while she waited at a bus stop.

He was convicted of attempted kidnapping and handed an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

A forensic psychiatrist found Istephan suffered from an unspecified mental disorder and referred him to sex offender treatment.

Six years later, he was convicted of committing an indecent act in a public place when he was caught masturbating on a wharf at a popular swimming lake near Victoria, the court heard. He was handed a 60-day jail sentence and three years of probation.

From 2001 to 2008, Istephan was referred to several mental health professionals who could not agree on a diagnosis, the judge wrote. "They did note that he had suffered some physical damage to his frontal lobe, although the documents do not disclose the cause or extent of that damage."

Several of those mental health professionals found Istephan was at a moderate to high risk to reoffend sexually, the court heard.

Istephan was convicted of breaching his probation for failing to complete a sex offender counselling program in 2009, and was again found in breach of his probation in 2014, when he was found within 200 metres of a school.

'Material risk to public safety'

Istephan denied having any concerns for his own mental health and refused to participate in a presentencing interview with a forensic psychologist, the judge wrote in his sentencing decision.

"Mr. Istephan is not a first offender, he did not plead guilty and his refusal to participate in psychological assessment and treatment is unique," the judge found.

"He is a repeat offender who suffers from a mental illness and refuses to participate in medical procedures for assessment and treatment of his mental illness. As a result, he poses a material risk to public safety."

Istephan's defence lawyer recommended a conditional sentence to be served in the community, while Crown counsel Tanner Conway asked the judge to sentence the Vancouver Island man to 18 months in jail.

The judge noted that, in his opinion, neither sentence was sufficient, saying he preferred the maximum penalty for voyeurism at a summary trial, which would amount to two years less a day in jail.

"I would have been inclined to that sentence, were it not for the fact that Mr. Conway seeks an 18-month sentence," the judge wrote. "As a general rule, I think it unwise to impose a longer sentence than that sought by the Crown."

In addition to 18 months of incarceration, the judge sentenced Istephan to three years of probation and prohibited him from having any contact or communication with the victim upon his release.

"Mr. Istephan could be detained indefinitely in a mental health facility under the provisions of the Mental Health Act," the judge concluded. "However, those who administer the statute have been made well aware of Mr. Istephan and his condition, and have decided not to detain him, so that option for the protection of the public is not available in this case." Top Stories

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