Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nowhere To Run To

"[When a high-risk sex offender is released from prison] society becomes a sitting duck. What we need is a systemic way of dealing with the issue so the community doesn't have to take it on."
"I believe in the law, so any form of activity that is not regulated is wrong, but for those raising children ... having access to information, to me, that is just a basic right."
"Given their crimes, I believe they have lost the right to anonymity. Do you not have the right to know who you're sending your kids to at Halloween?"
Rosalind Prober, president, advocacy group Beyond Borders ECPAT

"What purpose can there be to this legislation [Conservative government tough new legislation to establish publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders] other than to further vilify child sex offenders, encourage vigilante justice and further drive them underground?"
Stephen Hebscher, Toronto criminal lawyer

"Hurt my kid and I'll bury you where they'll never find the body."
"Pedophile you came to the wrong neighbourhood."
"Hurt a kid ... deal with us."
"...willing to jump into action to protect abused kids 24/7."
Urban Bulldogs Against Kid Abuse [patch-wearing bikers]
Screengrab /
Screengrab /   The homepage for Urban Bikers Against Kids Abuse.
"[It's] incredibly concerning [that people who go through the judicial system continue to offend]."
"That means we are dealing with a population of people that have come through a system that hasn't held them accountable. The system is under resourced, we still have judges and justices who don't understand what sex offenders are capable of ... you have people out on the streets who have not undergone counselling ... it's problematic, they come out the other end with very little intervention."
Danielle Aubry, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse

"Maybe they (police) are watching him, [released-to-the-community sex offender Terrance Leger, 54] but it doesn't seem like it. We've seen kids in his yard, seen him hanging around an ice-cream parlour talking to children. ... People feel helpless."
Grandmother Lynn Hutchinson

"We had conditions put on him when he was released. He has a curfew and is not supposed to be around children. If people see that, they need to bring it to our attention. We will act on reports."
"If it's just about monitoring as a community, that's OK, but if there's false information, harassment ... that's not helpful. People need to understand they (sex offenders) have met their custodial obligation and are free members of society with the same rights as others ... they deserve not to be harassed and targeted by people."
RCMP officer Sgt.Dale Morgan

Police, social workers, much of the general public, criminal lawyers, have a perfect right to believe and support the theory that child-sex offenders having been charged for their crimes, judged and imprisoned, and thereafter have a perfect right to take their lawful place in society once they have discharged their obligation to justice by serving the time allotted to them as punishment for their crimes. Parents of vulnerable young children think differently; that their moral right to live alongside families with children will never be rehabilitated.

In July, after five years in prison, 35-year-old child-predator, sexual offender, and violent criminal Keith Constantin, convicted of sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy, and a 45-year-old blind woman among other crimes, had his face and crimes placed on posters on every available space in the Gage Park area of Hamilton Ontario. Hamilton Police had warned that he represented a danger to reoffend.The backlash to his presence led by several hundred raging mothers unnerved this man to the extent that he broke his curfew and was taken back into police custody.

He was hounded out of the Gage Park area, then he settled into the nearby Hamilton suburb of Stoney Creek and the same reception met his presence. A mother of four young children set up a Facebook page, and residents printed and distributed posters along with an online petition that read: "Stop the government from allowing him to live in our city" that bore several thousand signatures. The man now faces a possibility of an additional two years in prison for breaching his curfew. Should he return to those communities afterward, he will face a similar reaction.

And then there is Terrance Leger, 54, who had been actively engaged in abusing young boys in the rural community of Collina, where locals held meetings, exchanged posters, drew up petitions and pressured the landlord who owned the house Mr. Leger was renting. Add to that Dave Mantin, director of the Sexual Abuse Network of Canada, living in Saint John, who managed and led the campaign. Mr. Mantin operates a support and advocacy network with cross-Canada reach.
Keith Minchin for National Post
Keith Minchin for National Post   Dave Mantin, Director with the Sexual Abuse Network of Canada, delivers flyers near his home in Saint John N.B.
He also maintains a public listing of sex offenders based on media reports, and uses private Facebook groups to keep tabs on convicted or suspected pedophiles, working entirely "within the law" to monitor and bring the concerns of neighbourhoods to the attention of police. Mr. Leger also was pressured out of Collina in a few months' time, leading him to move up to the road to Penobsquis, 20 kilometres away where Lynn Hutchinson is his neighbour.

She began driving by his house, beeping her horn to harass him after she had spotted him in her backyard one night. He threatened to call the police. Rosalind Prober of Beyond Borders ECPAT finds such tactics unuseful, but she knows the wellspring of fear and loathing from whence they arise, largely a feeling of powerlessness while a threat lurks in the community. Currently, the national sex offender registry available only to the RCMP, has 33,000 names, two-thirds of which represent people convicted of sex crimes against children.

That database will become public when the new legislation to establish a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders passes as it is expected to. In Penticton, British Columbia, Cpl. Martin Trudeau of the local police force is concerned of news of a new biker group promising to "work in conjunction" with authorities. The biker group explain they aren't vigilantes, but their promotion video's use of graphic images and threatening slogans leave an indelible impression that they are prepared to become just that.

Sexual violence against children represented one of the only violent crime categories to be on the rise when Police reported 4,232 such crimes against children in 2013, a notable increase from 2012 when there were 3,900 crimes reported. Yet Danielle Aubry at Calgary Communities Against Sexual abuse speaks of those figures as the tip of the iceberg, that such crimes are under-reported. Leaving society with quite a problem to be solved in some manner which at the present time escapes everyone, authorities and neighbourhoods alike.

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