Bill would ban name changes for sex of­fend­ers

Those con­victed of se­ri­ous of­fences would not be able to hide be­hind new iden­tity

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BILL KAUFMANN Bkauf­ Twit­ter: @Bil­lka­uf­man­njrn

The province will pre­vent sex of­fend­ers con­victed of se­ri­ous crimes from chang­ing their names, ar­gu­ing it will en­hance the safety of Al­ber­tans.

On Wed­nes­day, Premier Ja­son Kenney said his gov­ern­ment will close a loop­hole that al­lows those of­fend­ers — par­tic­u­larly those who prey on chil­dren — to change their names, thus en­dan­ger­ing com­mu­ni­ties and es­cap­ing full ac­count­abil­ity for their crimes.

“Clearly, more needs to be done to pro­tect in­no­cent adults and chil­dren from the vi­o­lent sex preda­tors among us and one way to do this is en­sur­ing they can’t hide by chang­ing their names,” said Kenney.

“There are lit­er­ally thou­sands of paroled sex of­fend­ers liv­ing in Al­berta and Canada to­day.”

Cur­rently, those aged 12 and over seek­ing to change their names must sub­mit elec­tronic fin­ger­print con­fir­ma­tion to RCMP and pro­vide other proof of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

But Kenney said that hasn’t pre­vented some of the worst sex of­fend­ers from legally chang­ing their names, and that those con­victs can ap­ply to have their names re­moved from a reg­istry track­ing them that isn’t made pub­lic.

Un­der the pro­posed changes in Bill 28, any­one 18 or over who ap­plies for a name change must pro­vide RCMP with their crim­i­nal record. Any­one among that group with se­ri­ous sex­ual con­vic­tions would be de­nied that re­quest.

“Con­victed sex of­fend­ers have com­mit­ted ir­rev­o­ca­ble crimes leav­ing their vic­tims scarred for life,” said Kenney.

He said a study done in 2004 for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment showed 24 per cent of sex crim­i­nals re­of­fended within 15 years, while the num­ber for those mo­lest­ing boys climbed to 35 per cent.

An Adult Crime Court Sur­vey from around the same time pro­vided to Statis­tics Canada states three per cent of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of­fend­ers were con­victed of sim­i­lar of­fences af­ter five years. There are about 4,000 le­gal name changes granted an­nu­ally in Al­berta.

It’s not known how many sex­ual of­fend­ers re­peated those se­ri­ous crimes un­der changed names, said Kenney.

“(That’s) by virtue of the fact we don’t have screen­ing . ... We don’t have a le­gal frame­work to track those num­bers,” said Kenney, adding in­di­vid­ual in­stances of such of­fences are known.

Vic­tims’ ad­vo­cate Shel­don Kennedy pointed to his sex­ual as­sailant, hockey coach Gra­ham James, as an ex­am­ple of a re­peat of­fender who’s changed his name, in this case to Michael James.

“These in­di­vid­u­als op­er­ate in our com­mu­ni­ties for years,” said Kennedy, co-founder of Re­spect Group Inc. “Any tool we can have or any loop­holes we can close to stop the move­ment of these in­di­vid­u­als ... is a crit­i­cal step.”

En­sur­ing of­fend­ers are held fully ac­count­able is an­other goal of the law, es­pe­cially given vic­tims suf­fer for years, said Ch­eryl Diebel, CEO of Ze­bra Child Pro­tec­tion Cen­tre.

“We’ve talked a lot about the vic­tim, but also the of­fender has a level of ac­count­abil­ity and this is a step for­ward in that ac­count­abil­ity process,” she said.

Saskatchew­an has moved to adopt sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion and Ser­vice Al­berta Min­is­ter Nate Glu­bish said he’s push­ing the rest of the prov­inces to adopt it to pre­vent sex of­fend­ers from hid­ing else­where.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.