American on the lam in teen sex case seeks refugee status
Woman says 30 years in prison for having sex with her teenage son's friend is too harsh
An American woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for having sex with her teenage son's friend is claiming refugee status in Saskatchewan.
"Her claim is likely going to be based on the sentence that she received in the United States being cruel and unusual punishment," said Saskatoon-based immigration lawyer Chris Veeman, who is representing Denise Harvey.
"It's excessive," Veeman said.
According to American media reports, the Vero Beach, Florida woman was convicted in 2008 for having sex with a 16-year-old boy on her son's high school baseball team.
Reports about her case in Florida say Harvey never admitted any wrongdoing, but did not testify in her own defence. Jurors did hear that a condom with Harvey's DNA on it was found in the boy's home.
Harvey, 43, was supposed to turn herself in to begin her sentence Feb. 25.
She was arrested in Pike Lake, near Saskatoon, last week.
RCMP said they executed a provisional warrant issued by the federal Justice Department.
A spokesman with the U.S. Marshals office did not know how authorities were tipped to Harvey's whereabouts. Dave Oney could only confirm that she has been released on bail in Canada.
Veeman said Harvey was released Monday and must report to Canada Border Services, like any other refugee claimant.
She has been in Canada illegally since last year.
Harvey has 28 days to file what's called a personal information form, where she officially lists her grounds for refugee status.
It's not known how long the refugee process will take.
"It's a very unique situation so I don't know exactly how it's going to play out," said Veeman.
Veeman said he doesn't think Harvey could be extradited.
"What she was convicted of is not a crime in Canada because of the different ages of consent. At least that's what I'm working with — I'm not sure if the government is of the same mind."
The age of consent for sexual activity in Canada is 16 years.
However, the age of consent rises to 18 years where the sexual activity exploits the young person. That is when it involves prostitution, pornography or occurs in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency such as a teacher, coach or babysitter.