Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Group home admits lapse on sex offender

Lack of supervision led to alleged crime

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A Winnipeg group home admits it failed to properly supervise a convicted sex offender who allegedly molested a young boy during an outing to a St. Vital pool last week.

Jonathan Alexander Baker, 23, is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and failing to comply with a probation order following the April 9 incident at the YMCA on Fermor Avenue. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.

Court records show Baker was convicted of a previous sexual assault in 2012 and sentenced to two months of time served and probation, which included residing at a long-term facility that cares for people who have developmental disabilities.

As part of that sentence, Baker was placed on the national sex-offender registry, required to provide a DNA sample for the federal databank and ordered to not have any contact with children under the age of 16, or attend places they may frequent such as parks and swimming pools, unless he was being monitored by an adult who had "direct" eye contact at all times.

Karen Fonseth, the chief executive officer of DASCH (Direct Action in Support of Community Homes), confirmed Tuesday Baker has been under their court-ordered care and was taken to the YMCA as part of an outing last week.

She said the support worker who was supposed to be monitoring Baker has been fired in the wake of this "unfortunate situation."

"We are confident that we have appropriate policies and procedures in place that unfortunately were not followed in this instance by a specific individual," Fonseth said in a written statement.

She declined to provide additional details or comments about the incident, citing the fact the case is now before the courts.

"It would be inappropriate for us to discuss this matter any further," she said. DASCH has also extended an apology to the victim's family.

According to police, a woman reported her five-year-old son was grabbed by an adult as he played on a waterslide. The alleged incident happened when the boy was at the top of the slide. He told his mother what allegedly happened immediately after he slid down and came out of the pool. She also reported the accused as having an obvious mental disability.

It's not clear whether Baker was the only DASCH client who was at the pool that day or whether the support worker had to monitor others.

Baker is being held in custody at the Winnipeg Remand Centre without bail.

According to its website, DASCH is a non-profit organization established in 1974 dedicated to exploring and meeting the residential, day-program, respite and foster-care needs of youth and adults. The organization supports people living in 42 homes and eight apartments throughout Winnipeg.

People can participate in personalized social, educational, vocational and recreational services that provide learning opportunities and greater independence.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2014 B1

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