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Convicted rapist seeks release after 40 years behind bars

Mission Institution inmate Orville Gustavson brings his case to Chilliwack B.C. Supreme Court
A dangerous offender who has been behind bars for four decades will return to court in January to try and gain his release.

A man who has been imprisoned since the early 1980s will go to court in January, arguing for his release.

Orville John Gustavson has been behind bars at the Mission Institution since 1981 following a rape conviction.

Appearing briefly by video in Chilliwack B.C. Supreme Court Thursday (Sept. 29), Gustavson used the words “forgery” and “fraud” to describe his sentencing. He filed seven applications to the court Sept. 12, 2022, including a request for disclosure of Crown materials from the early ‘80s, and told Justice Baljinder Kaur Girn that he has filed an affidavit and intends to subpoena witnesses.

Gustavson’s original sentence was 23 years, but after receiving the ‘dangerous offender’ tag in 1983, it became open-ended.

Gustavson has now been detained more than four decades.

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, the dangerous offender designation is given to a person convicted of a serious personal injury offence who shows repetitive aggressive behaviour that he or she will be unable to restrain. Crown must establish that the person “has shown a failure to control his or her sexual impulses and a likelihood of causing injury, pain or other evil to other persons through failure in the future to control his or her sexual impulses.”

Gustavson checked all of the boxes when he was put away. In addition to rape, he’d also been found guilty of attempted rape and indecent assault.

But he has repeatedly argued that the open-ended sentence violated his rights under the Constitution.

Several times since his conviction, Gustavson has filed for the writ of habeas corpus, which protects against unlawful detention. He has been denied each time, but this time he is pursuing a ‘special plea’ strategy, alleging that not everything was above board when he was sentenced.

Gustavson is representing himself and two days have been scheduled to hear the matter, scheduled for Jan. 3 and 4, 2023.

RELATED: Chilliwack man released after BC Court of Appeal overturns dangerous offender designation

RELATED: Canada’s youngest dangerous offender from B.C. denied parole


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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