Whyte Avenue club faces boycott after manager's letter of support for Matthew McKnight
EDMONTON -- A Whyte Avenue nightclub is facing calls for it to be boycotted after its manager wrote a letter of support for convicted sex offender Matthew McKnight.
Blue on Whyte general manager Marty Melnychuk was McKnight's boss at Knoxville's Tavern where they both worked between 2010 and 2016.
Melnychuk wrote a letter of support for McKnight that was entered into court records during his July sentencing hearing for sexually assaulting five women.
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"Matt was one of the best people I have worked with in over a decade in the hospitality industry," he wrote in the letter.
"I sincerely believe that he deserves a second chance."
McKnight was sentenced to eight years in prison for the five sex assaults.
'A STAB IN THE STOMACH'
CTV News spoke to one of McKnight's accusers who is supporting the boycott.
"It was like a stab in the stomach," she said in reaction to Melnychuk's words of support for McKnight.
"The network of people that enabled it and surrounded him are still in Edmonton."
Her identity is hidden by a court-ordered publication ban.
The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton says after McKnight was charged, Melnychuk worked with the organization to develop training at bars.
Its executive director says his show of support sends a dangerous message.
"This is not what a community does to support people who have been harmed by sexual violence."
Neither Blues on Whyte or Melnychuk returned emails, messages or calls from CTV News.
Crown prosecutors initially sought a 22 1/2 year term for McKnight and are appealing his sentence.
McKnight is appealing his conviction arguing that among other reasons that “the Crown’s conduct in cross-examining the Appellant was abusive, demeaning, prejudicial and inconsistent with the Crown’s obligation to act impartially."
With files from Bill Fortier