Hamilton

Move to healing lodge for man who sexually assaulted young girl now under review: aunt

A man who was convicted of sexually abusing his then-girlfriend's six-year-old daughter was transferred to an Indigenous healing lodge before being transferred back to a prison. The girl's aunt says the man should never have gone to a healing lodge in the first place.

The man was convicted in 2016 for sexually abusing his then-girlfriend's 6-year-old daughter

A man convicted of sexually abusing a young girl has been transferred back to prison in Quebec after initially being transferred to a healing lodge on Wednesday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Warning: This story contains graphic details

The aunt of a girl who was advertised on Craigslist and sexually abused says one of her niece's abusers, who was transferred to a healing lodge in Quebec, has now been moved back to a prison pending a "reassessment" of his transfer. 

The girl's aunt, who CBC Hamilton is not naming in order to protect the girl's identity, says she found out on October 2nd that the prisoner had been moved to a healing lodge.

The woman says she was told Friday that he had been moved again, this time back to a prison.

In a statement to CBC Stephanie Stevenson, a spokesperson for Correctional Services Canada (CSC), confirmed the offender is in a medium-security institution and that the case was being reviewed, but declined to say more, citing privacy concerns.

While the aunt is pleased he's been transferred to an institution quickly, she is worried about how long he'll stay there. 

"This should have never happened in the first place," she says. The aunt says the warden and the parole officer at the Ontario prison where he was originally housed should be held accountable. 

A healing lodge, as described by the CSC website, is a correctional institution specifically for Indigenous offenders, that offers culturally appropriate services that integrates Indigenous values, traditions, and beliefs. The goal of the institution is to understand the factors that led to the inmates incarceration to help them reintegrate into society. 

"I think they've realized they've made a mistake," she says of whoever authorized the transfer to the healing lodge. 

The girl's aunt says the man was not assessed properly before the transfer and says she was not contacted prior to the move to provide a victim impact statement stating how she would be affected by this.   

"There's got to be more input from the victims, from the families," she says.

Stevenson said CSC is in contact with the victims in the case and is "aware of their concerns."

She also pointed to Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which states registered victims who have asked to receive information about offender transfers can be informed in advance of a transfer to a minimum-security facility.

"CSC commits to providing notification to the victim two days prior to the transfer, if possible," Stevenson wrote in an email, adding the CSC encourages victims to file a victim impact statement and update it throughout the correctional process.

"This is to ensure any current concerns they may have are available for consideration in decision-making processes, including those for the transfer of offenders."

The aunt says there has to be some sort of change to the justice system. She says there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for people who sexually abuse children before they are considered to be transferred to a healing lodge or given parole. 

"These crimes are serious," she says. "What they put my niece through is despicable. She'll have to deal with that for the rest of her life."

Man was sentenced to 13 years in 2018 for crimes

The man, then 37, was convicted in 2018 for sexually abusing his then-girlfriend's six-year-old daughter. He pleaded guilty to making and possessing child pornography, sexual interference, and voyeurism. 

The abuse started in April 2016 and lasted for 18 months. The man would invite adults to come over after people in the child's house were asleep, and then the girl would be sexually assaulted. 

The man also had 4,117 images and videos in a child pornography collection, where all but 147 files were of the girl. 

He was sentenced to 13 years and three months in prison which, after accounting for time served, would mean a sentence of 10 years and 205 days. 

When Justice George Gage provided his ruling, he said that no sentence would "restore (the girl's) innocence, nor can any sentence soothe the pain of the indelible scars."

Five people were convicted in relation to the case. 

With files from Christine Rankin and Samantha Craggs