Politicians are picking up the crusade to have a convicted sex offender leave a Calgary community, where he currently lives across the street from two schools and a daycare.
Over the weekend, Alberta's Justice Minister Jonathan Denis suggested Stephen Huggett, 59, consider moving from his Willow Park neighbourhood after several community members raised concerns.
“What I do suggest might be in the interests of the community, is if he voluntarily relocated somewhere,” Denis, who also serves as MLA for Willow Park, told the Calgary Sun.
“I recognize he has to live somewhere, but he is literally across the street from a school," Denis continued to the Calgary Herald.
Huggett, a former officer with the Calgary Police Service, was charged last week under the 1992 Criminal Code with invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference with a child under 14.
Police say the accusations involve inappropriate sexual behaviour and touching.
It's believed the alleged victim met the accused through her mother.
Peter Demong, the alderman for Willow Park, echoed Denis' request that Huggett leave, telling the Calgary Sun community residents "would like very much if the (former) officer would take Jonathan’s suggestion of moving to a different part of the community.”
Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw, however, said that asking Huggett to move is a band-aid solution, and that stronger legislation is the key to creating safer neighbourhoods.
“Simply asking sex offenders to show good will to our communities and relocate isn’t good enough and is a sign of weak leadership,” Saskiw said, pointing to the government's decision this year to scrap electronic monitoring bracelets for sex offenders as a sign of soft-on-crime policy.
Saskiw suggests 'predator-free zones' be legislated near schools and daycares, to keep potentially harmful people from living in those areas.
Several parents told the Calgary Sun they would not allow their children to play outside near Huggett's home, and another person said a nearby home had been put up for sale as a result of the convicted sex offender living in the area.
According to the Calgary Herald, police have communicated Huggett's history to people living in Willow Park and one neighbour said "it would be a hardship for him to be forced to sell his house."
Huggett was arrested this past January after a woman came forward claiming she was sexually assaulted while in a relationship with him.
During the investigation, police found information that the accused was accessing child porn in his Willow Park home.
Huggett was also sentenced to nine months in jail for possession of child pornography in 2009.
Huggett retired from the Calgary Police in 2007 after serving 25 years as a patrol officer.
The new charges against Huggett have not been proven in court.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 29.
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