Serial rapist moved to Saint John halfway house
A man known as the ‘motorcycle rapist’ is now living in a halfway house in Saint John.
In 1989, John O’Brien was convicted of raping eight women in Nova Scotia and sentenced to 37 years in prison.
He now qualifies for statutory release and was released from prison today, after serving two-thirds of his 37-year sentence.
“Most offenders are released at that point, unless there is some reason to keep them inside that much longer and that would be for safety reasons,” says Mary Ann Campbell of the UNBSJ Centre of Criminal Justice.
Parole board documents indicate O’Brien is now in his early 50s. His criminal record dates back to the mid 1970s.
In the late 1980s, he was convicted of a number of offences including five counts of sexual assault with a weapon, two counts of sexual assault, and two counts of using a firearm while committing an offence.
O’Brien was dubbed the ‘motorcycle rapist’ because he was wearing a helmet and riding a motorcycle in many of the cases, most of which occurred in rural and secluded areas in and around the Halifax area.
Parole documents indicate O’Brien’s risk of sexually reoffending is in the high end of the moderate range and that his risk for general violence is in the moderate range.
The documents go on to say his case management team is concerned about the potential risk he presents, because he has yet to be tested in the community.
As a result, many people in the Saint John area are expressing concerns over his release to their community.
“The Saint John community is going to have questions, obviously, not just about the individual, but you know, why he’s there, why that location, why he was released,” says Jenn Gorham, who works at the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre in Fredericton.
“I feel they have a right to have those answers and their concerns addressed.”
Wally Corey is the interim priest at Saint John’s Stone Church, which is located next door to the halfway house where O’Brien now lives.
He understands there will be some worry in the community, but says this is the best solution.
“When people are trying to get on their feet…actually, it is better for them to be where there’s friendship and some degree of supervision and freedom together. That’s probably better than them living all by themselves somewhere,” says Corey.
Police in Saint John say they are aware of O’Brien’s release.
There are special conditions attached to his release and parole documents indicate he will require close monitoring and supervision.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar