Man sentenced to 18-months for voyeurism at Sooke pool

Gary Linn/Provincial Court of B.C.
Mark Istephan's case was heard in the Western Communities Courthouse.

A man has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and three years probation for a voyeurism incident in Sooke.

In a Provincial Court of B.C. ruling, Judge Ted Gouge sentenced Mark Istephan for the voyeurism offence that occurred on May 4, 2022 in Sooke.

In the decision, Gouge writes that the complainant, who is only identified by the initials Z. R., was using the community centre in Sooke for her morning workout.

As she was getting changed in a cubicle in the gender-neutral changeroom after swimming, she saw the shadow of a person in the neighbouring cubicle who appeared to be trying to look into her stall through the space at the bottom between the wall and floor.

“She fled in fear to the reception desk at the front of the community centre. Police were called and arrested Mr. Istephan,” Gouge writes.

“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.”

Gouge notes Z. R. says she continues to suffer from anxiety, particularly in public recreation facilities, due to the incident.

In the decision, it is noted that this is not the first offence for Istephan.

In 2001, he was charged with attempted kidnapping for trying to pull a 13-year-old girl who was waiting at a bus stop into his vehicle. He received an 18-month sentence for this.

In 2007, he was convicted of committing an indecent act in a public place for masturbating on a wharf at a lake near Victoria. He received a 60 day jail sentence and three years probation for this.

In 2009, he was convicted of a breach of his probation conditions for failing to complete a sex offender counselling program. Then in 2014 he was convicted of a breach of his probation conditions for being within 200 metres of a school ground.

Between 2001 and 2008, he was seen by a number of mental health professionals, which Gouge notes he cooperated with some and not others.

Istephan has suffered some physical damage to his frontal lobe, but the extent of the damage is not disclosed.

Gouge notes that Istephan declined to be interviewed by a forensic psychologist for this case.

“[Mr. Istephan] advises that he does not have concern for his mental health. He reports that he disagrees with ‘… past diagnoses and do not wish to share the diagnoses I was provided as they are fictitious …’,” the presentence reports says.

“During the interview for the purpose of this report, [Mr. Istephan] refused to engage in further questioning in relation to his behavioural and emotional status.”

Gouge notes several of the mental health professionals deemed he was a high risk to re-offend sexually.

The maximum sentence for this conviction is two years less one day, Gouge says.

“I would have been inclined to that sentence, were it not for the fact that Mr. Conway seeks an 18-month sentence,” Gouge writes. “As a general rule, I think it unwise to impose a longer sentence than that sought by the Crown. I sentence Mr. Istephan to 18 months’ imprisonment.”

During his three years probation following the prison sentence, Istephan has 10 conditions he must abide by, including not be within 500 metres of the SeaPark Recreation Centre, have no contact or communication with Z.R. and to not go to any public recreation centre.

Laura Brougham

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