Lawyers' group slams U of C's 'de facto expulsion' of sex offender
The Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association says Connor Neurauter deserves opportunity to reintegrate
The Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association is slamming what it says is the "de-facto expulsion" of convicted sex offender Connor Neurauter from the University of Calgary.
Neurauter was sentenced to prison for sexual interference with a 13-year-old girl, but his sentence, handed down in a Kamloops, B.C., courtroom, was delayed so he could finish his classes at the U of C. That decision caused an uproar, including an online petition demanding he be expelled.
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The university told Neurauter to stay away from campus in order to protect his safety.
"Make no mistake: this is a de facto expulsion," reads a letter signed by Alberta CTLA president Daniel Chivers and sent to the school's board of governors. "It flies in the face of the University of Calgary's discipline policies. It is an act of cowardice and a denial of fundamental due process."
Chivers, whose membership is comprised of criminal defence lawyers, said this decision sets a terrible precedent, and he accuses the university of bowing to an "online mob."
"As the situation developed, I think our membership was just so disgusted by the way it unfolded that we felt it cried out for someone to respond, and so our organization felt it appropriate to comment on what's happened here," he said in an interview with CBC News.
Chivers has no connection to the family or the case.
'Choice to make as a society'
In the letter, Chivers wrote that it is the responsibility of the university to ensure the safety of all of its students, including Neurauter, who he acknowledges committed a serious offence with lasting consequences for his victim.
U of C provost Dru Marshall told CBC News on Jan. 12 that is was serious about keeping Neurauter off campus.
"If he was to show up on campus, campus security will escort him off campus," she said.
Chivers said the "vast majority" of sex offenders do not re-offend and that allowing Neurauter to continue his education "does not hurt society — it helps it."
"We have a choice to make as a society: will we adopt the route taken by some American states, where we deny these individuals the opportunity to reintegrate in society, by limiting their ability to participate in everyday life and consigning them to 'sex offender ghettos?'" reads the letter. "Or will we condemn their actions but choose not to write them off as individuals?"
Chivers says the goal of sentencing is not to "demonize, crush, stigmatize, belittle, or brand an offender with a scarlet letter for them to wear forever."