A group of mothers outside of Stoney Creek, Ont., will be distributing some 2,000 posters with the face of convicted sex offender Keith Theodore Constantin Tuesday night, to let as many people as possible know what he looks like.
After being chased away from the Gage Park neighbourhood in downtown Hamilton, by a similar community backlash, the convicted sex offender headed for the Fruitland Road area and is about to be welcomed by a second wave of resistance. In addition to the posters, there is a second online petition to get him out of the neighbourhood.
The fresh efforts to keep him out of his second possible post-jail home raise questions about where can he live, and the ultimate impact of the police warning issues about him.
Mothers react to police warning
The posters have been printed by Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson, and are are expected to be plastered all across the Winona and Fruitland Road neighbourhoods ahead of the arrival of Constantin.
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Johnson says the plan came out of a meeting with local mothers concerned about Constantin because of the strongly-worded warning issued by Hamilton Police, which advised he was moving to Hamilton and was likely to re-offend. It outlines a litany of conditions he has to follow, despite the fact Constantin has completed the entirety of his eight-year sentence.
"(The mothers) don't want people to think that it's just in their backyard," explained Johnson. "Every community out there has a school yard … They want this gentleman be in a secure environment."
Police advised on Friday that Constantin was moving into the Gage Park neighbourhood. A fresh warning was issued Monday that he had decided to settle in the Fruitland Road area- an indication he is being closely monitored.
In the Friday alert, Police Chief Glenn De Caire said he was making Constantin's plans public because he is a danger to re-offend. “In our commitment to public safety, I am exercising my discretion to notify the public that Mr. Constantin will be residing in the city of Hamilton,” De Caire said in a news release.
A Hamilton Spectator report from 2009 said Constantin sexually assaulted a woman in a basement apartment of his parents' Hamilton home on Sept. 9, 2007. He punched her in the chest and head, held a knife to her and tried to bind her wrists with wire, the report reads.
When she cried out, he told the woman, "Shut up, or I will kill you."
Constantin took a plea deal which sentenced him to the equivalent of eight years in prison. He was given credit for time served and was released July 23 at the end of his sentence, and was ordered to have DNA profile entered into the criminal database, and placed on the sex registry for life.
Few tools available
There are, however, few tools after the completion of his sentencing, short of a dangerous offender label, for the penal system or law enforcement to impose controls on Constantin.
Johnson says that's the issue the mothers, who largely didn't want to be identified in fear of being signalled out, wanted to get across.
It's also the crux of the problem, argues John Clinton, executive director of the St. Leonard's Society, an organization which provides programs to offenders or those at risk of offending.
"We've now ended any type of supervised release by keeping (prisoners) in (jail) to the end of their sentence," Clinton said. "I do think that there's better ways to manage their release other than the public notification."
Clinton questioned if the aggressive warning from Hamilton Police was the best approach.
"Maybe there's a better way," Clinton asked. "How is that safe? My goodness, back anybody into a corner and they become more unpredictable."
In May, sex registry data revealed the L8E postal code, which includes Fruitland Road, had 28 registered sex offenders in 2008. By April 2014, that had dropped to 21. Johnson said this one is different.
"The police have not issues a warning about (the other 21 registered sex offenders)… They did with this gentleman."
A question of safety or liability?
Asked where he should go, Johnson couldn't give an answer.
"I get that.. But when it comes to the safety of the community… we want the community to be aware," Johnson said.
"I would hate to have something happen and then the community goes 'why weren't we told'. … all the community knows now, or they're going to know."
Clinton questioned whether this kind of response was more about what's in your backyard, or who takes the blame if something were to happen.
"If it's not a NIMBY argument, is it a liability argument?" Clinton asked.
Conditions imposed on him by a court order include:
- Not to be alone with anyone under the age of 16 unless that person is accompanied by a responsible adult over 18 years old.
- Not to be present at any day care, swimming area and/or public swimming area, school ground or playground where one might reasonably expect children to be present or any community centre where children are present.
- Abstain absolutely from the possession, purchase or consumption of drugs, narcotics, controlled substances or marijuana, expect in accordance with a medical prescription, and alcohol or alcohol-based products.
Anyone with information about Constantin related to those conditions is asked to call police at 905-546-3832 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Use the chart below to find registered sex offender data by postal codes: