NEWS

N.W.T. failed to prevent sex offender from abusing stepdaughter again

04/10/2015 07:00 EDT | Updated 06/10/2015 09:59 EDT
A Northwest Territories man convicted of sexually abusing his 10-year-old stepdaughter was allowed after his release to return to the family home, where he sexually abused the same stepdaughter and other girls living in the house.

The man's identity and where he lives has not been released because it may identify the victims in the case.

In the 1990s, the man was convicted and served time for one count of sexual interference against his stepdaughter, who was 10 years old at the time.

According to court documents, after initially being charged, he was released on bail under the condition that he not drink alcohol and that he stay away from the girl.

After serving his sentence, the man moved back to his community to serve out his probation. Court documents show the only probation conditions he had to follow were to report to his probation officer within 10 days of release and to attend any counselling or treatment programs the officer recommended.

Abused stepdaughter told her mother

The man was allowed to return to living in his house with his stepdaughter, common-law partner and their other children.

His stepdaughter testified in court recently that less than a year after the man returned from jail, the abuse started again.

The man is now in custody after being convicted of multiple sex-related offences for abusing his stepdaughter and other girls.

The women testified in court that as girls they had told family members, including their mother, about the abuse they were suffering. They said she forced the man to apologize to the girls, but that he continued to live in the house.

No RCMP detachment

Sue Glowach, a spokeswoman for the N.W.T. Department of Justice, told CBC News in an email that N.W.T Corrections does not contact Child and Family Services when any inmate is released.

"Usually, people who have been incarcerated have taken programming to assist them to change their behaviours so they will not reoffend upon returning to their communities," Glowach said.

Glowach said once inmates are released, it is up to the RCMP to keep watch over them.

"If in Corrections' opinion, they have reasonable grounds to believe an inmate being released from custody will likely pose a significant risk to any person in the community, they notify the RCMP 15 days before their release.

"The RCMP follows their process to protect public safety."

The community the man is from does not have an RCMP detachment and no police officers are stationed there.

Complaint required

Damien Healy, a spokesman for the N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Services, told CBC News in an email that Child and Family Services can only intervene if a complaint is made.

"In the circumstances surrounding this court matter, had anyone reported that the children might be in need of protection, then the matter would have been investigated and appropriate steps to ensure the protection of children would have been taken," Healy said.

"However, the act does not enable child protection workers to take actions in the absence of a report that a child may be in need of protection."

Arlene Hache, a child and family advocate in Yellowknife, said she sees cases like this all too often.

"You get a guy who sexually molested his children and he gets thrown back into his house with no support and they're pretending no one reported it? It was reported by the conviction for goodness sake," Hache said.

"They're sitting there waiting for some community person to report that those girls were being sexually abused? They should have known what would happen in that house.

"The justice system knew. Child welfare knew. They had an opportunity at that point to put in a long-term plan."

Hache said she wants the territorial government to come up with a better system for protecting victims and monitoring offenders.

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