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Sex assault victim concerned that assailant has been moved to Valley prison

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A woman who was sexually assaulted at knifepoint in Abbotsford in 1998 is concerned that her assailant has been moved from a prison in Ontario to one in B.C.

Beulah, who did not want her last name used, said she received notice that James Ernest Armbruster, 49, was transferred from the maximum-security Kingston Institution to the medium-security Mountain Institution in Agassiz.

She said Armbruster, who is originally from Manitoba, has no family living in this area, and she is shocked that Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) would transfer him to the Fraser Valley.

Armbruster has repeatedly been denied parole, but his release date is March 2018.

Beulah is worried about him being released in the community. He had been let out of Mountain Institution in January 1998 – after serving seven years for nine armed robberies – with a condition that he reside at a CSC halfway house in Abbotsford for three months.

Five days later, he left the centre with a knife he had obtained from the kitchen and walked into an Abbotsford vitamin store, intending to rob it. He sexually assaulted the clerk, Beulah, then 37, while threatening to kill her.

Armbruster has been in prison since 1998, having been sentenced to 20 years for the assault and robbery.

At the time of his sentencing, he had 63 prior convictions for crimes such as theft, break-and-enter, and the sexual assault of his 83-year-old grandmother.

In 2001, Beulah sued CSC for failing to protect her from the violent offender, and a $215,000 settlement was reached.

Beulah said the latest report on Armbruster, from a hearing in which he was denied parole, states that, if released, he is likely to commit an offence that causes death or serious harm to another person.

The report stated he has refused to participate in sex-offender treatment programs, including most recently as October 2011, and his "reintegration potential is low.

"It is absolutely astounding to me that CSC would allow him to come back to the same community. Why would they do that? … Why wouldn't they try to be a little more sensitive to this community?" Beulah said.

Jean-Paul Lorieau, CSC communications manager for the Pacific region, said that, under the Privacy Act, he cannot confirm the location of any federal offender or the specifics of his/her case.

The "Transfer of Inmates" page on the CSC website indicates that inmates' transfers serve two objectives – to "manage institutional populations" or to "allow them to participate in correctional programs and/or interventions as identified in their correctional plan."

The page states that these transfers are done "while ensuring the protection of society as the paramount consideration."

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