A Newfoundland man who has served time for abusing two of his ex-girlfriends pleaded guilty to assaulting a third in a virtual Ontario courtroom Friday morning.
Kevin Evans, 32, entered a guilty plea to five counts of assault against Jessica Donald, who he dated between 2017 and 2018. Other charges, including sexual assault and strangulation, were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
“It’s a real relief because he’s changed things so many times in the last four years that I didn’t fully believe he was going to actually go through with it,” Donald said after Friday’s hearing.
“I definitely think it made me stronger, ’cause I never thought I’d have to do something like this. And at first I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to, but I did and I am. It So proud of myself.”
Wearing glasses and a white collared shirt, Evans told Justice Erica Chozik in Superior Court in Milton, Ont., that she understood the charges to which she pleaded guilty.
The hearing held on Zoom lasted for about half an hour. But it was a long time coming for Donald.
The Burlington woman went to police for the first time in January 2019, months after ending her abusive relationship with Evans. CBC News later went to court to lift a publication ban covering Donald’s identity, making way for her to tell her story publicly using her real identity.
Evans contested the plea, but the judge ultimately sided with the CBC.
The case was later delayed when Evans requested that CBC News and the Toronto Sun hand over his raw interviews with Donald and Donald’s private medical records.
Later he withdrew this request.
Crown prosecutor Nick Chiera spelled out the facts of the case, including incidents where Evans punched, choked and twisted Donald’s arm – all in a fit of rage and jealousy.
On more than one occasion, Evans grabbed Donald by the throat with both hands and squeezed, the court was told. She was left with bruises on her throat and neck, and went to her doctor and hospital but did not disclose the abuse.
In November 2017, the two had an altercation outside a bar. When Donald went to leave, Evans took his car keys and threw them into the river. Donald went down to get the keys but Evans followed him, grabbed his left arm and twisted it. Donald went to the hospital and needed to wear a sling.
In September 2018, at the end of their relationship, Evans became suspicious of a text message on Donald’s phone and punched her in the ribs.
“When asked why Donald waited six months to report the assault, she said she found out a new girlfriend had been abused and she didn’t want it to happen to anyone else,” Chiera said in court.
It was a new girlfriend, Lindsay Plank, who had moved to St. John’s from Ontario with Evans after her breakup with Donald.
She was also a victim of abuse and went to the police in St. John’s.
In January 2020, Evans pleaded guilty to assaulting Plank and Ashley McQueen, whom he began dating after Plank.
As in Donald’s case, Evans physically and verbally attacked Plank and McQueen, often amid accusations of cheating and jealousy.
Evans served 169 days in jail awaiting resolution of his case, and was released immediately after serving his sentence with an 18-month probation order.
With trauma and survival
Donald and Plank, bound together by circumstance and attack, become each other’s staunch supporters.
Plank attended Friday’s virtual hearing in support of Donald by confronting her former abuser, who she says has irrevocably changed her life.
“As a previous victim of Kevin Evans — a continuing victim — we need to stick together because this is clearly Kevin’s continuing pattern. And to show our support for each other, we’ve followed the case from start to finish for all of us. The three of us,” Plank said.
“I want to know at the end of the day that hopefully justice will be served.”
Plank said she feels the justice system has failed the three women with the sentences that have been handed down, and what is expected this fall.
Justice Erica Chozik adjourned sentencing until November 25 to allow time for a pre-sentence report.
She did not request that Evans appear in person.
“I’m not going to make him travel from Newfoundland. I understand money is tight,” Chozik said.
“I will not have him travel from Newfoundland to Milton for a sentencing proceeding.”
Donald said it was clear that his abuser would not be sent to custody for his crimes, and that he expected to be placed under house arrest.
According to Planck, that’s not good enough.
“Money is tight and you can’t travel to Ontario? I don’t care. He just pleaded guilty to abusing women and you’re going to let him walk around for another two months like nothing happened?” Plank said.
“The justice system makes no sense.”
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