Shrubsall ruling due in September

Tim Fenster/staffThis Jan. 22 file photo shows William C. Shrubsall, right, as a sheriff’s deputy escorts him inside the Niagara County Courthouse.

LOCKPORT -- A State Supreme Court justice has reserved decision on a challenge from a former Falls man to charges he jumped bail and fled to Canada to avoid sentencing on sexual assault charges.

Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said he expected to have a decision by mid-September on an effort by Ethan Simon Templar McCloud, formerly known as William C. Shrubsall, to have bail jumping charges against him dismissed because prosecutors failed to actively seek his extradition from Canada.

Shrubsall, now 47, fled to Canada on May 14, 1996, while he was on trial for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl. In his absence, a jury convicted him of first-degree sexual abuse and he was sentenced to a 2-1/3 to 7 year prison term.

Two years later, while living in Nova Scotia, Shrubsall was arrested by Canadian authorities for a series of assaults and sexual attacks on three women.

He was tried and convicted on multiple counts of sexual assault, aggravated assault and robbery. The Parole Board of Canada declared him a dangerous offender in December 2001 and Shrubsall was given an indeterminate sentence, with the potential for life in prison.

In November, the Parole Board of Canada ordered Shrubsall released from custody and deported to the United States.

Niagara County Sheriff's Office investigators took Shrubsall from Canadian authorities on the Rainbow Bridge and he was taken to the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden to begin serving his sentence for his 1996 sexual assault conviction.

Shrubsall's defense has argued that his still pending bail-jumping charge should be dismissed because neither prosecutors nor law enforcement agencies made active, sustained efforts to have him returned from Canada to face the charges.

If he were to be convicted on the bail jumping charge, Shrubsall could face another seven years behind bars when his current prison term is up.

In testimony Wednesday, former first assistant district attorney Timothy Lundquist said he looked at the treaties that govern extradition requests between the U.S. and Canada and determined there would be "some problems with extradition on the bail jumping charge."

"There was a list of 30 offenses subject to extradition," Lundquist said. "Bail jumping was not one of them."

Lundquist said before leaving the district attorney's office in 2007 he had stopped actively seeking Shrubsall's extradition because he believed that Canadian authorities would not keep him in prison "for 30 or 40 years" and would eventually deport him. He said New York State Police investigators continued to check with their Canadian counterparts "every four months" to determine if Shrubsall had been scheduled for release.

"I was always of the opinion that Canada was going to release (Shrubsall) at some time," Lundquist said. "That he would not be up there for life and, as it turns out, I was right."

Public Defender Jenelle Messer has argued to Kloch that the delay in her client's return has "impaired his defense."

"Witnesses involved in the initial case are no longer available," Messer said. "In fact they're dead. That is certainly an impairment to my client."