By Lyonel Doherty
A provincial court judge has ordered a volunteer firefighter in Oliver to keep the peace after he admitted to causing his neighbour to fear for her safety in May of 2017.
Travis Bolenback, 35, was scheduled to undergo a trial today in Penticton court on a charge of unlawfully being in a dwelling house (his neighbour’s). But Crown crounsel Ann Lerchs and defence lawyer James Pennington agreed to a 12-month peace bond instead.
A peace bond is normally issued when the Crown does not feel that its case is strong enough for a conviction. There is no finding of guilt in the signing of a peace bond.
According to the victim, Bolenback entered her home while she was sleeping on her couch at approximately 3 a.m. She claims she awoke to the sensation of him touching her leg. The victim maintains that she and Bolenback did not have a relationship at the time.
However, Bolenback previously told the Chronicle that the incident was merely a “dispute” with his neighbour.
Pennington said his client is self-employed and a volunteer with the Oliver Fire Department. Since the allegations were made, he has been off work and has only attended fire practice during his leave of absence.
Fire Chief Bob Graham said Bolenback did not attend any calls during this time, but noted he will now resume his regular duties as a firefighter. Graham told the Chronicle last year that he would await the outcome of the trial before making a decision on Bolenback’s future with the fire department.
Cathy Cowan, chief administrative officer for the Town and the department, confirmed there was an agreement today to enter into a peace bond between the two parties (Bolenback and the complainant).
“Travis does not have a criminal record and was not found guilty of any charges, so he will be returning from his leave of absence.”
Judge Michelle Daneliuk asked the accused if he acknowledged that his actions caused the victim to be fearful for her safety. He said yes.
She outlined the details of the peace bond to include showing good behaviour, reporting to a probation officer, attending counselling and having no direct or indirect contact with the victim.
“It’s tricky when you’re neighbours,” Daneliuk said, but she made it clear that Bolenback cannot speak to his neighbour or make any gestures to her, “even if it’s meant to be friendly.”
The judge acknowledged that some incidental contact would likely occur due to their proximity as neighbours, but warned Bolenback that if he happens to lock eyes with the victim, he must immediately look away.
After the court proceedings, the victim told the Chronicle that she is glad the case is wrapped up because it has been a long 17 months.
“It was good to hear him admit that his actions had caused me harm and suffering. For us, his taking a plea bargain is an admission of guilt. If he was innocent he’d have wanted to go to trial.”
The woman said she is appalled that the fire department would reinstate Bolenback into a position of trust in the community.