West Shore man arrested for violent sexual assault of Victoria sex worker

Edward Charles Burman faces sexual assault, robbery charges

After an 11-month police investigation, a 31-year-old West Shore man was arrested Thursday for the alleged violent sexual assault of a Victoria female street sex worker.

The pair had finished their “business” in the 3000-block of Douglas St. on Feb. 19, 2011 when the accused attacked the woman without provocation around 5 p.m., said Const. Mike Russell, Victoria police spokesperson.

The woman eventually fought off her attacker and called 911 as the man was making his escape.

Almost one year later, the accused – who police say is known to them – was arrested early Thursday morning by Victoria police officers without incident in the 2800-block of Aldwynd Road off Goldstream Avenue in Langford. Russell could not confirm whether the accused was arrested at his residence or workplace.

Edward Charles Burman appeared in Victoria provincial court on Friday. He now faces charges of assault causing bodily harm and sexual assault in which a weapon, threats or causing bodily harm was involved. He also faces a robbery charge.

Burman is scheduled to return to court on Tuesday (Jan. 17) for a bail hearing.

Police say the key to cracking the complex case was linking it to similarities in another offence filed in a national database of mostly sexual offences and homicides, known as the Violent Crime Linkage System.

In that incident, police say another Victoria female sex worker was violently robbed of cash in December 2009.

The match prompted investigators to run a DNA check. Samples from the two crime scenes were matched through Canada’s National DNA Data Bank for convicted offenders, police say.

VicPD’s investigation of the 2009 robbery is ongoing. No charges have been laid, but the accused is a suspect, Russell said.

It was RCMP Cpl. Tara Roberts who connected the cases through the Violent Crime Linkage System.

“Of course, it’s a good feeling. You want to get predators off the street if you can,” said Roberts, an analyst with the RCMP’s Surrey-based Behavioural Sciences Group.

The arrest was also good news to PEERS Victoria Resource Society. The non-profit provides street outreach support, among other services, to about 300 sex workers every month. There are an estimated 3,000 sex workers in Greater Victoria.

“What a relief it is for the staff and clients at PEERS and for the rest of the region, because an act of violence like this against anybody in the community is a threat to the whole community,” PEERS executive director Marion Little said, adding sex workers are 60 to 120 times more likely to be assaulted, mutilated or murdered than the general public.

“It’s unconscionable that anybody in our society is at risk in that way,” she said.

emccracken@vicnews.com