Ontario’s sex offender registry has another shocking loophole - Macleans.ca
 

Ontario’s sex offender registry has another shocking loophole

Pardoned sex offenders are automatically erased from the database


 

Bill Herriot/ The Calgary Herald/ CP

Wherever he’s hiding these days, serial molester Graham James is surely reading about himself in the headlines, no doubt furious his predatory past is once again front-page news. The latest revelation—that the National Parole Board quietly pardoned the notorious pedophile hockey coach three years ago—has triggered as much outrage as the original charges, and exposed a long list of confusing truths about how our criminal justice system deals with dangerous sex offenders.

Thanks to Graham James, Canadians now know just how simple it is for a man who preys on teenage boys to have his criminal record wiped clean. Over the past two years, 1,554 sex offenders applied for a pardon; only 41 were rejected. Thanks to Graham James, Canadians also now know that a standard criminal background check doesn’t disclose the fact that a potential volunteer might be a pardoned predator. Those details only turn up in what’s known as a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS), a much more exhaustive screening tool that requires fingerprints and weeks of waiting—and that many volunteer organizations don’t bother demanding.

The Harper government is already promising an overhaul. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has vowed to make it tougher for men like James to secure pardons, and his office is listening to suggestions that would ensure Boy Scout leaders and minor hockey coaches are thoroughly screened. But the James case has revealed another frightening loophole: pardoned sex offenders are automatically erased from the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.

“It is a matter of huge concern,” says Jim Stephenson, whose 11-year-old son Christopher was kidnapped and murdered by a known pedophile in 1988, and whose case sparked the creation of the Ontario registry. “Convicted sex offenders are being routinely erased because they get a pardon. They drop off the system—and out of sight.”

Launched in 2001, the Ontario database was the first registry of its kind in Canada. Every person in the province convicted of a sex crime is added to the system (12,905, at last count) and as soon as an offence is committed, the computer churns out a list of potential suspects who live in the area. But there’s a catch: if a rapist, pedophile or child pornographer is granted a pardon, he must be deleted. “It’s just mind-boggling,” says Det. Sgt. Rick Harrington, one of the Ontario Provincial Police officers who oversee the registry. “I call it the tsunami of pardons.”

And it’s growing bigger by the day. In 2007, 62 convicted sex offenders were pardoned and erased from the provincial database. In 2008, that figure nearly tripled to 158, and by the end of last year another 175 were spared the hassle of telling authorities where they live. All told, 433 names have been removed from the Ontario registry, and by the end of 2010 that number is projected to reach almost 700. The fear, of course, is that one of those pardoned deviants will strike again, and when the registry goes looking for suspects in the neighbourhood, his name will not show up. “Once you have a pardon on the file, it is completely evaporated,” Harrington says. “They will fall through the cracks. But just because they get a pardon doesn’t mean they’re not a person of interest to the police.”

The National Sex Offender Registry, created four years after the Ontario version, does not remove pardoned criminals from its database. But that doesn’t mean all those deleted convicts from Ontario remain on police radar. Inclusion on the national version is not automatic (a judge must order a person to comply) and thousands of Ontario residents who are listed on the provincial system are not on the federal one. So for them, a pardon still means no more registering. (James’s 1997 sexual abuse conviction predates both registries, so he is not on either one.)

A bill is now before Parliament that, if passed, will make drastic improvements to the national database, including mandatory registration. In the meantime, the OPP says it is working with the RCMP on ways to align both systems—and the pardon problem is part of those discussions. “We would support any legislative change that would make our communities safer,” says OPP Superintendent Dave Truax. Asked if our communities would be safer if pardoned sex offenders remained on the registry, he answered: “I don’t have any anecdotal data to state so, but my 20-plus years of being a police officer suggests that that may assist in making communities safer.”

Jim Stephenson has a simpler solution: don’t pardon sex offenders in the first place. “The research is in and the science is conclusive: a sex offender cannot be cured,” he says. “They are always going to have the capacity to reoffend. When you have a sexual assault on a child, that person should not be able to apply for a pardon with the same ease as a person convicted of break and enter.”


 

Ontario’s sex offender registry has another shocking loophole

  1. This explains how repeat sex offenders are allowed to teach in the Province of Ontario. The 220,000 Teachers in the Province of Ontario think they are Professional? Professional what? Teachers organizations such as the Ontario College of Teachers often claim to operate in the Public Interest. I guess in some twisted way, convicted sex offenders interest is some how in the public interest. Victims don't count becuase they are not included in Canada's Constritution Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Shame on all of use for allowing this to happen over and over again and again….

    • The Ontario College of Teachers does not represent teachers; it represents the provincial community. And yes, teachers do lose their teaching licences due convictions based on sex offences. Teachers do lose their licences based on inappropriate conduct around their students inside school and in the community. This may include a high school teacher having sex with his/her 18 year old student. The sexual relationship is legal. However, teachers are in a position of trust and authority. Sex with any student is unprofessional and will likely lead to a teacher losing his/her teaching licence.

      • Would you like a list of all the sex offenders who are teaching in Ontario? Ask the Chairperson of the Ontario College of Teachers. Or even better ask your member of Parliament. The Ontario College of Teachers ignores more then 90% of all cases against school administrators. One school principal who threw dog dirt at a child wasn't even charged with unethical conduct. The media should take a survey of the 94% of the teachers of the Province of Ontario who do not vote in the College of Teachers Elections and ask one simple question. Do you know of anyone who has committed any form of sexual abuse against a child who is currently a teacher or has been a teacher and if so have you have been told not to dicuss the information that you are aware of concerning this educator?

    • I know a guy that assaulted a 6 year old…he received 3 months in jail. After he got out, he assaulted a 5 year old, that time he managed to get a L O N G sentence of 6 months! I learned today that this man/coward…is going back to court at the end of this month, (July, 2010). I don't imagine it will take much to figure out why! He is facing a trial for sexually assaulting 2 young, little girls…his OWN children!

      The amount of sexual abuse is on the rise, yet these pedophiles get a slap on the wrist. He was sentenced for 3-6 months, yet the children he assaults, are sentenced "life." (This is NOT different than a grown person getting assaulted.) A sentence of 3-6 months for assaulting the first two little girls, it's "Pitiful". I am going to attend court the day he is scheduled to go. I really want to hear the opinions of the judge, and the possibiity of hearing the sentencing. (The 1st girl he assaulted is going to attend court with me that day.

      You know…once these guys get caught, they should LOSE all their rights and freedoms..

    • The Toronto Police Sex Offender Registry Enforcement Unit, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and the Minister of Community Safety and Corrections are just a few of the individuals and organizations that do NOT support Mr. Hudak’s proposed legislation.

        Contrary to popular belief, former sex offenders are significantly less likely than other criminals to be rearrested. Of those few former sex offenders who do recidivate, the majority are convicted of non-sexual offenses. 

      Nationally, almost one third of all sex offences in Canada are committed by persons under 21 years of age.

         Most sex crimes are the work of first-time offenders, against who background checks, registries, and GPS offer no protection.

         Registries are designed to deal with situations where the victim does not know the offender, e.g. child abductions. However, such abductions are extremely rare. The Conservatives are enhancing the stereotype of sexual predators lurking in the bushes by the playground (Hudak: “If a convicted sex offender or child predator steps foot on a playground or near a school, I want the police to know”).  In fact, most perpetrators of sexual crimes are family members or other acquaintances of victims. Since offences most often occur in the home, gps and online registries will not be an effective deterrent.

         While enjoying a 97% compliance rate, one of the highest in North America, the Canadian registries have NOT been useful in solving a single crime since their inception over a decade ago. 

         Online registries  in the U.S have resulted in the murder of former offenders and a reduction in compliance rates as offenders fail to register in an attempt to avoid constant harassment.

         Failing to reintegrate former offenders back into the community actually increases recidivism rates. 

      http://ontarioregistryandgps.webs.com/

  2. The system seems very bizarre to me. Doesn't a pardon mean that the crime is forgiven? On what grounds is such forgiveness granted?

  3. Its the pardon that's the problem, not the loophole in the registry. A pardon should only be granted in expectional circumstances, such as new evidence coming to light that absolves the convicted molester of all wrongdoing. If the person is still seen as a risk to re-offend, they shouldn't be pardoned in the first place.

  4. Pardoned sex offenders are automatically erased from the database

    Ontario's very far lefty culture is beginning to make many many people sick to their stomachs.

  5. The problem lies with the volunteer organizations. The system that is currently in place is sufficient. If volunteer organizations required the appropriate clearances for volunteers working with children, that is the VSS, then no problems should occur. A pardon does not erase data in relation to a VSS, which is required in order to work with children. If volunteer organizations are not doing the appropriate record checks then they should be held accountable.

    Also pardons are unrelated to the sex registry. Child sex offenders, once convicted, are given a term to be listed on the registry, such as 5 or 10 years. That term must be carried out. Once a sex offender has completed his term he may be revoved from the regirstry and receive a pardon, but once again a VSS, which is required to work with children, will reveal a past sexual offense regardless of a pardon or removal from the sex registry.

    Articles like this are intentionally misleading. Please be a critical media consumer and do not allow misinformation to lead you to make uninformed opions.

  6. a convicted sex offender drives public taxi, works with children under 17, it's called falling through the cracks.
    i could not be more informed of what i speak, a repeat offender is now awaiting appeal who was convicted,is driving a taxi , so applicable checks,no, works where children age 0- 18yr, all law enforcement aware, yet they prey on our children,
    when they see the physical,emotional,psychological effects in some cases fatal ,these predators have on our children we will see we need articles like this ,laws to protect with continuity.

  7. I have completely had it with the politically correct lefty and it's way of doing business. lefty can go and f__k off!!!!!!!

  8. ignorance is a position of right /left ,seeing a child that has been raped ,trying to solve the problem, and prevent these bastards from re-offending,or in cited cases killing victims.
    pollitically correct, ignorent, just stick to the facts, these are predators , and until your child was raped,
    your left hand does not know what your right hand is doing

  9. Ontario is looking more and more like a science experiment gone wrong. Just recently a new sex ed document, which smacked of representing the voice of gay activists, was outed and removed from the curricula. The minister of education lied when she said that the catholic church and catholic boards were on board with this thing.

    Then we learn that Ontario's far left culture goes all the way to the jail cell where most criminals get a pardon and have their entire criminal history erased. This would serve well the ambitions of psychopath sexual sadist, Karla Holmoka.

  10. This is insane that any sexual predator gets a pardon in the first place. They will and do reoffend. It is proven that they do not rehabilitate and are a danger to any community. Sad that this is the way it is in Canada. Far as I am concern if you are on that registry then you should be on there for life.

    • I couldn't agree more with steven, it's more sad and disheartening to come to these news sights for quality information only to find it swamped with complete ignorance and misinformation. I completely agree that these crimes are horrendous in nature, but preventing capable and eligible people from working and earning a living and making a valuable contribution to society is counter productive. I for one don't want to be supporting these people in a society that is struggling greatly and hard enough as it is I rather they not be on welfare and working to support themselves. Besides as the current system stands these convicted sex offenders are still flagged even though they get a pardon, preventing them from obtaining access to children and complete anonymity it just aides them in obtaining work.

  11. There are numerous teacher sex offenders who want to get back into the classroom and teach the new Ontario sex ed curriculum in concert with a show and not tell performance. Sorry, I don't trust this group any more than I trust the priests.

  12. sex offender should be sentences to die they don't deserve asecond chance at life they are sick people who need to be off the streets and off this pl,anet

    • I agree with the capital punnishment as a way to get rid of such monsters and hopefully stop this kind of human that defiles an other. There is no predator laws and there should be with no excuses and no money should be involved in court cases where the predator gets pardoned. There should be no pardons. As recieving a pardon is a bad loophole to reaffend and not to punnish.

    • Its clear to me that you are a very narrow minded person, who really does not know there ass from a hole in the ground. I was abused for three years by my school principle. Now I did not tell anyone till I was 22yr, but by that time he had passed away. Now I had a total breakdown a few years a go dealing with mental illness and oth health problems. On April 7 my life changed forever. From what I have been told I snapped and became a mindless body, doing all sort of things that were not me. I am sad to say that I hurt a child the same way that I was hurt so many years ago. Plus on the same day I tried to cut off my own leg, when the police arrived they attemped to stop me and all hell broke loose. By the end of the day I was in hospital, and charge with a sex crime and multipal assult charge on the police. I did not resume memory untill the begining of May.

      • I took fun responisbility for what I did even though there is no memory of it. The courts sent me to a trearment facility, were I could get some help. They found out that I had multipal peronality disorder, and dissasocitative disorder meaning that I go into auto pilot with out knowing my actions, and this can last for daysI went through all the testing at CMH in Toronto and they did not find any sexually devient ideas or thoughts about me. But know I am on the sex registry for 5 years, I have lost my wife and children because I am now labeled. And all this happened because of a . mental illness. Now I am not saing that predors are good people because some sex offender are really sick people and they take joy in having a sexual relationship with children. So I ask you were does that leave me. I am a normal guy who does normal guy stuff, but had a break down and did this terrible thing post your answer I would like to know.

      • And if you inflicted the same kind of act on a child, then you should be shot as well!
        Call it closed minded all you want…it is actually very open minded, stick to the facts…where the hell do you get the right to abuse a child?  if it was my child, id cut your balls off!!

  13. a convicted sex offender in our area ,awaiting appeal , is out in the public. works w/ kids ,who will protect our children from these predators that are free to be in our school yards, daily ,also plat grounds . bottom line the law protects the criminil

  14. Once James is charged with offences against other past hockey players his pardon will be revoked and he will be back in the Ontario registry. This man should be locked up PERMANTLY. He has made it hell for many other volunteers in youth groups throughout the country.

  15. What wrong with this picture?
    As a victim, I was sexually assaulted by a camp councilor in 1968 at YMCA Camp Wanakita! Over 40 years I have suppressed this incident and the effect this pedophile had on my life. Those were the worst 2 weeks I have ever experienced and have left a lifetime of scars. I struggle today to put it together, I remember another 10 year old boy was involved, unfortunatly I can't remember faces or names while I attempt to reclaim my life.

    If we had a decent system I likely would be able to put things together and have this guy locked up behind bars. I suspect he has been as I don't think these creeps can stop. The government should be ashamed and I see them at the same level as the pedophile, they are pardoned but I am trapped and not pardoned having to carry this burden of shame and guilt for the rest of my life.

    What wrong with this picture?

  16. Karla Homolka should never have been eligible for a pardon. That is the fault of the criminal justice system NOT the pardon regime.

    Would it surprise you to know that most sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders? Did you know that treatment for former offenders has proven effective and that most sex offenders, once treated, never commit another
    crime? Did you also know that making it more difficult for former offender to reintegrate into society increases the
    potential for recidivism?

    Would you like more *FACTS* and would you like our politicians to base their legislation on facts such as these, rather than their desire to garner votes by looking tough on crime? If so, look at this website:

    www [dot] canadiansforajustsociety [dot] webs [dot] com

    • "That is the fault of the criminal justice system NOT the pardon regime." The pardon regime is part of the justice system. Criminal criminal criminals….think of the victim will you! How would you like to walk into a classroom and have the rapist teaching you after your mother or father has told you to stay away from that teacher, hockey coach, camp councilor who raped them. The victim needs the same rights as the criminal. Right now the priest or teacher sex offenders has all the rights and his or her victim has no rights.

  17. I was thinking of posting A useless fact like Kill them all and let god sort it out…….. thinking…………………….. I say this make them pay for the life time of damage done to the child from there own pocket a life time Bill of 100 $ per person per month paid in to the fund to help pay for the cost of the damage done to the child in question. This program would bring in millions and would go a long way to restoring our faith in the system. I am personally willing to build this program and distribute the funds accordingly dennishrc@hotmail.com.

    Like cost for medical care life time counseling and I am sure with more time and work i can come up with a few more ideas if you have one of 2 please contact me

    • Good call the first constructive thing i've seen in this useless forum of ignorance, a constructive step forward to help the victim, taking away the offenders ability to work and therefore making him dependent on welfare just makes the victim and their family pay for the rest of their lives by supporting that person on top of suffering for the crime. Allowing him to work yet making him pay into a fund as such would do wonders for our society.

  18. The real problem is with the Judicial system which is not infallable.

    Judges make mistakes and have repeatedly convicted people of crimes they have not commited. How about dedicating more time and effort into ensuring that those convicted actually commited a crime, then start dealing with harsher sentences / regimes for said criminals.

    For someone to appeal a decision made in a monkey court, they first must either have money for a lawyer, or obtain legal aid. Legal Aid CAN and DOES deny people who financially can not afford a lawyer on a regular basis leaving them defensless in court which is even more of a crime, however it is permitted because Legal Aid is allowed to deny without violating that persons rights with the statement — and I quote "You have the right to have a lawyer, but you do not have the right to funding for a lawyer". Last I checked, isn't denying someone who can not otherwise afford a lawyer by extension denying them the right to a lawyer, which by further extension denies them to a fair and just trial ?

    More and more women are making accusations of a sexual crime when in fact no crime has been commited. They have ulterior motives such as the sums of money to offset their low income through the "Victims of Crime" program. Or, to make a custody battle easier. And sadly, the reverse is true, people who have actually been assaulted in such fashion, upon reporting to the police (esp a male who has been sexually assaulted — by female, or male), the police laugh it off, or state "what do you want us to do about it" …… seriously ?… WTF….

    Fix the system, then kill all pedophiles and rapists!! …… But fix the system first!

  19. Censorship on McCleans ??

  20. I understand how you people feel about sex offenders but remember they are some mothers child and the mothers hearts are broken. God Bless

    • they may be some mothers child. but they also hurt some mothers child

  21. Did you know that treatment for former offenders has been proven effective and that most sex offenders never commit another crime? Did you also know that making it more difficult for former offender to reintegrate into society increases recidivism?

    Would you like more *FACTS* ? If so, look at this website:

    CanadiansForAJustSociety.webs.com

  22. I know one also in Kapuskasing, ON, involved with children all of his career as teacher, principal, Catholic church, choir, music, etc… He is now registered on the website Netlog and on his profile he mentions that he "fancies boys and girls". He is in his 70's. Because none of his victims have yet reported him, the police will not do anything, that only the victims can report him. I know what he did to my brothers, and the population knows what he is. Because of his high status in the community and the fear of hurting his family, nobody will come forward. What about all the children that he has hurt? Doesn't that count for anything???

  23. What a terrible prospect, a pardoned person found no longer guilty to be removed from a sex registry they shouldn't be on.

    What a shocking and horrifying thing… seriously, did you even proofread that or did you just write this all out of anger? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your feelings regarding the matter, but innocent people are made to register for this and their social life is over. They may lose their jobs, have difficulty finding others, and renting or buying a house? Pfft.

    We need to focus on identifying then TREATING people who have fetishes that are harmful to the innocent… MacLeans has always been an epic source of material but let's be less sensational and more realistic. Being realistic in this society is controversial, and controversy gets more views.

  24. Here's a twist. What about the guy who was convicted of possesion of child porn even though he was looking at 16-17 yr old girls. Our laws still consider this to be a c.p. offence, and he was sentenced to more that 1 yr imprisonment, his family destroyed, and now he is considered a sex offendrer, with little chance to rebuild his life. Was that fair?

  25. lol

  26. I think someone who has been convicted of a sex offence, especially to a child should be locked up for life so that the sick bas____ will never be able to harm anyone ever again!!!!!! What is this world coming to when they are pardoning sex offenders, especially child molesters so they can relive their lives and harm again???? Don't get it, we need a new government revamp!!!!!

  27. Good for you Kevin acknowledging and sharing with the public the sex offenders name you know of, it is up to those who know of these sick pedophiles to name them, this is freedom of speech, not breaching anything by not protecting them as they do not deserve it!!

  28. The Toronto Police Sex Offender Registry Enforcement Unit, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and the Minister of Community Safety and Corrections are just a few of the individuals and organizations that do NOT support Mr. Hudak’s proposed legislation.

      Contrary to popular belief, former sex offenders are significantly less likely than other criminals to be rearrested. Of those few former sex offenders who do recidivate, the majority are convicted of non-sexual offenses. 

    Nationally, almost one third of all sex offences in Canada are committed by persons under 21 years of age.

       Most sex crimes are the work of first-time offenders, against who background checks, registries, and GPS offer no protection.

       Registries are designed to deal with situations where the victim does not know the offender, e.g. child abductions. However, such abductions are extremely rare. The Conservatives are enhancing the stereotype of sexual predators lurking in the bushes by the playground (Hudak: “If a convicted sex offender or child predator steps foot on a playground or near a school, I want the police to know”).  In fact, most perpetrators of sexual crimes are family members or other acquaintances of victims. Since offences most often occur in the home, gps and online registries will not be an effective deterrent.

       While enjoying a 97% compliance rate, one of the highest in North America, the Canadian registries have NOT been useful in solving a single crime since their inception over a decade ago. 

       Online registries  in the U.S have resulted in the murder of former offenders and a reduction in compliance rates as offenders fail to register in an attempt to avoid constant harassment.

       Failing to reintegrate former offenders back into the community actually increases recidivism rates. 

    http://ontarioregistryandgps.webs.com/

  29. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT TELLS YOU NOTHING OF WHAT WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT SEXUAL OFFENDING, AND THE REGISTRY, OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS:

    (1) The sex offender registry has not solved a single crime in a decade-and-a-half
    http://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2010/parl_20100415_e.asp

    The following is Why the registry is ineffective in its intended purpose, which is to assist in solving crimes.

    (2) former sexual offenders have the lowest rate of recidivism of any offender group. Most never reoffend
    http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/sx-ffndr-rcdvsm/index-eng.aspx

    (3) most sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders- those not on any registry and;

    (4) the vast majority of sexual offenses are committed against someone the offender knows- not against strangers.

    (5) Making it difficult for ex-offenders to reintegrate into society actually increases recidivIsm rates. In fact. “ex offenders who receive treatment are less likely to re-offend. Offenders who don’t receive treatment are likely to re-offend at a rate of 17% compared to 10% for offenders who have received treatment.”
    http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/crrctns/rhblttn-sx-ffndrs-eng.aspx

    The information about what general area former sex offenders live will do nothing to ‘protect society’- better to ask where convicted drug dealers, child beaters, arsonists and convicted terrorists live- all have higher rates of recidivism than sex offenders.

    IT’S ABOUT TIME THAT WE EXAMINE THE FACTS SO THAT WE CAN CONCENTRATE ON WAYS TO PREVENT OFFENDING RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON LOW-RISK FORMER OFFENDERS.

    http://canadiansforajustsociety.webs.com/

  30. Ok, So what about the guy who walked away from a petty, vindictive, and vengeful ex-girlfriend, but who never molested a child, never made or distributed child pornography, and never harmed a child in any way?
    What about him?
    Why should he have to be demonized for the rest of his life?