Police say proper procedures followed in sex offender case
Published Friday, December 7, 2012 6:40PM AST
Halifax police are standing by the way in which they handled the case of a sex offender living near an elementary school in Dartmouth.
Police informed staff at South Woodside Elementary School a convicted sex offender was living across the street, but no one told parents.
Deputy Chief Bill Moore says he believes police made the right decision, but some parents aren’t convinced.
“I found out on Facebook. That bothers me,” says parent Samantha Turcotte.
“Why should I have to find out on Facebook about a possible danger to my child?”
As news of the case spread, several parents complained about not being informed, and Moore launched a review into how the case was handled.
“It’s a hot button topic. I understand that. I’m a parent as well,” he says. “I believe with the information presented, the correct decision was made.”
The man in question was convicted of sexually abusing his own daughter for four years, beginning when she was seven years old.
In September 2005, the National Parole Board found him to be a low risk to reoffend.
A psychiatrist’s diagnosis at the time was interfamilial pedophilia, meaning he wasn’t thought to be a risk to anyone outside his own family.
His daughter, and victim, spoke to CTV News about the case earlier this week, saying says she believes her father isn’t a risk, but also that parents should have been notified.
Many parents agree, and some wonder whether he should be living near a school at all, despite the parole board’s ruling.
“That’s my whole opinion on that is that, yes, he may be low risk, but you’re dangling children in front of him,” says parent Meagan Helpard.
While police have reviewed the case, Moore says it didn’t meet the criteria for a full public disclosure.
He believes the school’s liaison officer, who is in touch with school officials on a regular basis, made the right call.
“It was more of a heads up, we don’t feel there’s any direct threat, but just a general heads up if anything is suspicious to let them know,” says Moore. “I believe that was an appropriate level of information to be provided.”
However, his certainty does little to calm the concerns of some parents at the school.
“I mean, I still don’t feel completely comfortable,” says Turcotte. “We try to protect our children, and I mean, the doubt’s always there and it will always be there, no matter what they say.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Garreth MacDonald