Florida sex offender granted asylum in Canada

Denise Harvey was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor in Florida, but has been granted asylum in Canada and is living in Saskatchewan.

Denise Harvey is residing in Saskatchewan after being granted asylum

Denise Harvey was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor in Florida and sentenced to 30 years in prison. She has been granted asylum in Canada and is living in Saskatchewan. (Florida Sex Offender Registry)

A Florida sex offender, who claimed asylum in Saskatchewan, has been granted protected person status.

In 2008, Denise Harvey was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor. According to American media reports, the boy was 16-years-old and played on her son’s baseball team.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says the number of 'bogus' asylum claims has dropped by 87 per cent since the federal government introduced a new asylum system in Dec. 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Harvey fled to Canada in 2010 before she could be sent to prison. She was sentenced to 30 years in jail and is still wanted in the United States.

Harvey claimed her sentence was cruel and unusual punishment and after arriving in Saskatchewan, she asked for asylum.

What is the difference between a refugee and a protected person?

According to the Government of Canada a refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country or country of residence for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion and would be in danger of torture or death upon their return.

protected person must show that returning to their home country or country of residence would subject them personally to torture, cruel and unusual punishment or death.

Her request for protected person status was heard by the Immigration Review Board (IRB) in July of 2012 and the IRB granted her request because it agreed her sentence was indeed cruel and unusual punishment and the crime she was convicted of is not a crime in Canada.

Canadian law states that a 16-year-old can consent to sex with an adult unless the adult is a person of trust, such as a teacher, coach or boss. If that is the case, the age of consent jumps to 18.

Since the Florida boy was 16 and Harvey was not considered to be in a position of trust, no Canadian laws were broken.

Canadian immigration minister sought review of ruling

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, sought a review of the IRB ruling on two occasions, however the federal court upheld Harvey’s protected person status.

The ruling was accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in April of this year.

In an email to CBC Alexander expressed concern with the federal court ruling.

“Our Conservative government reformed Canada’s asylum system in order to protect genuine refugees, individuals truly in need of protection,” Alexander said.

“I find it mind-boggling that individuals from the United States, which has been designated a safe country, precisely because it respects human rights and does not normally produce refugees, think it is acceptable to file asylum claims in Canada. Lucky for them, they have no understanding of what true persecution is, and what it means to be a genuine refugee.”

Harvey's protected person status allows her to apply for permanent residency and eventually apply for citizenship.

with files from Roxanna Woloshyn