Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Convicted sex offender sent back to jail after caught babysitting

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A Manitoba child sex offender who was left to babysit two young Winnipeg girls has been sentenced to 113 days in jail.

The 21 year-old, convicted and jailed in March of sexually interfering with a 15-year-old girl, was wanted by probation officers after he failed to report to them after he was released in May.

His probation order specifically forbid him from having unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16 unless he's in the company of a supervising adult, provincial court Judge Kelly Moar was told.

A female friend asked him on the evening June 28 to look after her daughters, aged 3 and 4, at a home in the North End. At some point, the man upped and left the kids in the home to go out and find their mother.

The kids escaped the house and were spotted running in the street where they were almost hit by a car. A good Samaritan flagged down police officers in the area, who tracked the kids back to their home nearby.

Asked where her mother was, "she's drinking," the older girl's response was, Crown attorney Shannon Benevides said.

They reached the mom by cellphone and she and the offender returned to the home together. His probation order came to light and he was arrested and charged with breaching his probation and allegations of abandoning the kids.

There was no evidence disclosed that the girls had been harmed in any way. The Crown stayed a charge of abandon child and he pleaded guilty to counts of breaching probation.

"The mother was not co-operative with police with respect to this," Benevides said. "I suspect that there were going to be issues with her leaving the children with a known sexual offender," she said.

Police learned, however, that the mom had left another child, a one-year-old, in the care of someone else. Child and Family Services was contacted and police were told an agency had an open file regarding the mom and the kids.

Police elected to take the girls to where their younger sister was, at a home on Talbot Street. There, they found the infant, but there was no milk or diapers at the home, which was occupied by two intoxicated adults, said Benevides.

All three kids wound up in the care of police, and CFS advised they "were better off with their mother at this point," Moar was told.

CFS did an assessment, advised the mom of the "unfavourable conditions" police found her youngest daughter in and talked to her about "leaving the children with a sex offender," Benevides said. CFS "ultimately left the children with her," Benevides added.

The sex offender was released on two promises to appear in court, but was caught a few months later drinking beer in Central Park.

He is barred from attending any parks, playgrounds or public areas. His troubles with alcohol were noted to be a major factor in his offending. Court heard at his March sentencing the man was once an educational assistant at an elementary school in a northern community.

"He's clearly not prepared to address his issues," said the Crown. "He needs to, because if he doesn't, he's going to continue to be a risk to our children and the community," she said.

Defence lawyer Gail MacAulay said the man received bad advice from his mother about his probation order and didn't realize his obligations.

MacAulay said the man was actually out with the woman and her kids — which he was entitled to do — when she suddenly slipped away.

"I'll be back in a minute, I'm going to the bathroom," the mom said, and then vanished, Moar was told. The offender responded by taking the kids home, tucking them into bed and going out to find their mom. He believed they were safe, said MacAulay.

"He did not think it would take that long to find their mother," she said. "He didn't touch the kids. He didn't hurt them in any way."

Moar wondered why he didn't just pick up the phone, call police and be brutally honest with them about that transpired.

"The way he dealt with it is obviously not the way to deal with it," said Moar. "You cannot find yourself in that position," he told the man, who called what happened "the biggest mistake of my life." Moar declined to jail him for up to nine months as the Crown had requested.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5:18 PM CST: Minor copy edits to add clarification.

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