How have we come to this?

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I talked to Maria Liolios this morning.  Maria is the woman I referenced yesterday who, unfortunately for her, has discovered that she has a man categorised as a high risk sex offender in 2006 as a tenant.

As I said yesterday, this is a bit of a departure for me, but Maria found an August 2006 article about Bellefeuile on my site (http://theinquiry.ca/Media_archives_five.hide.php) and, after telling me via email that a police officer guaranteed her that Bellefeule won’t re-offend and that the information on my site is not all true I decided I should check into it.

This is a reminder for us all that convicted sex offenders are out and about everywhere – often we don’t have a clue who or where they are until, as Maria has found out,  it’s too late.  In Maria’s case not too late in the sense that anyone has been assaulted, but too late in the sense that she is now saddled with this man as a tenant, can no longer have her grandchildren around the house, is scared to death and, it seems, has no legal recourse to get him out her apartment unless there is proof that he has either re-offended or is about to re-offend.

I will re-print the article here in this blog, but first a little background on Maria’s situation.

About three or four months ago Maria rented out a 2-bedroom apartment in her home to a woman in her mid to late-30s.

The apartment was then occupied by the woman, an older partially-blind woman, the blind woman’s husband, and a male said or thought to be a nephew of the man.  There has also at some point been another male.

The husband is Romeo Joseph Bellefeuille.

Maria had no idea that part of the package was to be this man who, upon his release from jail in 2006, was identified as a high risk sex offender; she found out  only after she started having problems with her tenants and looking into and asking questions about their backgrounds.  It was her nephew I believe he passed on the bad news to her.

True enough, there are other issues with these tenants, including but not limited to their failure to pay the rent, but the truth is that since she found out about Bellefeuille Maria is scared to death, and her children are afraid to bring her grandchildren over to visit.  She doesn’t want him in her apartment.  And, I can’t say that I blame her!

Maria has called the police several times, and she has started the process to hopefully have these people evicted.  The latter may be a battle.  It is often extremely difficult, regardless the circumstances, for a landlord to have a tenant evicted.  There is a tenant review board meeting set for 12 April to address and/or hear her concerns.  Let’s pray that common sense prevails here and this woman can have some peace.

That’s Maria’s side of the story.  Now, here is the article which ran in the Cornwall Standard Freeholder when Bellefeuille was released from a 10-year-jail sentence.  This is the article Maria found on theinquiry.ca:

Police warn residents about high-risk sex offender

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Elisabeth Johns

Friday, August 11, 2006 – 10:00

Local News
– A sex offender who spent more than 39 years of his life behind bars and who police believe is a high risk for re-offending is expected to take up residency in Cornwall today.

Cornwall police went before a judge to apply for and receive a peace bond which subjects Romeo Joseph Bellefeuille to several court-imposed conditions to restrict his movement about the city.

Bellefeuille, 63, is being released from a federal prison in Kingston, where he served out his full 10-year sentence.

Police say he has convictions dating back to 1959 for offences including indecent assault, violent robberies, break and enters, and sexual assault with a weapon.

They say he also has a history of targeting the elderly. Several victims in robberies and a theft in which he was convicted were between the ages of 80 and 91.

Police Chief Dan Parkinson said the force is warning the public because of an incident in May in which the community felt it was not properly alerted that a violent sex offender had come to town.

In that case, Dana John Jensen, a repeat offender, came to Cornwall to stay with family just days after his release, when he was apprehended by police because of an unwanted person complaint and then was taken into custody, where he filed his dentures into a weapon.

Parkinson said these two incidents are starkly different.

“That individual (Jensen) dropped on our doorstep without notice,” Parkinson said. “We didn’t have the benefit of preparing for an 810.”

Section 810.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada is the bond which police applied for to have Bellefeuille’s movements restricted.

In Bellefeuille’s case, the police were notified the man would be coming to see family members he has who reside in the city, Parkinson said.

Parkinson said after the incident involving Jensen, the police force recognized the community’s desire to be informed and have since changed their policy to alert the public when a high-risk offender makes the decision to reside in the city.

“The police service has a willingness to change,” Parkinson said. “That came out of that incident (with Jensen).”

Bellefeuille – a white male, who is about 5 ft. 6 in. tall and 147 lbs., has wavy gray hair and blue eyes – is subject to 14 conditions, which include providing his address to police prior to his release, to report to the Cornwall police within 24 hours of his release and report weekly to police, as well as to inform police of any travel outside of the city.

He must also notify police when he changes his address, about where he works or volunteers, and is not allowed to possess firearms or weapons and cannot consume alcohol outside of his home.

He must abide by a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew and carry a copy of his recognizance conditions with him at all times.

A decision in November, six years ago, said Bellefeuille denied any involvement with weapons except for one incident involving a sawed-off rifle.

Bellefeuille suggested a victim he sexually assaulted with a weapon consented to the act, which the parole board says is contrary to their information.

When Bellefeuille was reassessed in 2004, the parole board said because he is unable to read, it is difficult for him to review treatment material.

Bellefeuille was told he remains a high-risk, high-needs offender with limited acceptance of responsibility, no insight into his criminal behaviour and little empathy towards his victims, and said he sees himself as a victim.

In 2005, his last assessment said he was ordered detained by the parole board because the board was concerned he was likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another individual.

The board said it had information Bellefeuille allegedly inappropriately touched another offender and made threats to the offender. As a result of this, Bellefeuille was transferred and segregated.

Bellefeuille has spent 39 years, six months and seven days in prison, which amounts to nearly two-thirds of his life spent behind bars.

Now, briefly, to my conversation of yesterday (14 Marcg 2012) with Sgt.. Jeff Carroll of the Cornwall Police Service.  I say briefly because we talked at length and often did not see eye to eye, but we did agree there are problems with the law in regards cases such as this.  Here then are a few bits and pieces of information gleaned from my conversation with Sgt.  Carroll;‘

(1)  According to Sgt. Carroll, Mr Bellefeuille has not re-offended “in any way, shape or form” since 2006.  When I interjected “that you know of” he added “that I know of,”

Sgt. Carroll also told me “I am very confident in saying I have no info at all about  Mr Bellefeuille re-offending or posing a threat to anyone,”  and added “I’m not saying that he will never do that in the future.”

According to Carroll he can only do what he can do legally:  “There are no grounds for me as a police officer or us as  police service to believe that he [Bellefeuille ] poses any threat to anyone.”  According to Carroll, such grounds would be that Bellefeuille either  has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence;

(2) When Mr. Bellefeuille was first released into the community of Cornwall in 2006 he was required to meet weekly with Sgt. Carroll.  Bellefeuille often sought Carroll’s assistance in filing out forms and such and therefore they would be in contact as often as three times a week.  Sgt. Carroll told me that this gave him good opportunity to monitor Bellefeuille and he got to know him very well

Eventually, Carroll told me, he  ‘lightened up’ on Bellefeuille’s reporting.  Initially it was reduced to reporting every two weeks, then monthly.  If I understood correctly Bellefeuille is now required to report twice a year.  In addition, officers are sent to check on him four times a year;

(3)  Carroll told me that Bellefeuille had only one sex conviction, and that was an “isolated” offence against “an acquaintance.”  When I pointed out that according to the Freeholder article Bellefeuille’s  offences included not only a sexual assault with a weapon but  “ indecent assault,” he agreed that could be the case

I was assured that Bellefeuille has never committed an offence against anyone “under the age of consent”;

(4)  Det. Carroll told me that there is a potential for each and every person out there to sexually abuse a child (meaning that people such as Bellefeuille pose no greater risk than anyone else)

He also said that “I can’t rewrite the law because this woman (Maria) is sorry that Mr. Bellefeuille is a tenant in her building.

He suggested Maria go to the rent tribunal and look for grounds to have Bellefeuille evicted.  He agreed that chances were slim that she would succeed, because according to him:  ‘you can’t deny some people the ability to have housing just because you don’t like their background’

(5)  We discussed what solutions there might be.  I suggested that one sure way to ensure that a predator never has opportunity to prey on anyone again is to lock them up for life.  Det. Carroll relied “You find a way to lock up someone for life for an offence that maybe doesn’t warrant it and I’d be happy to see that.”  I questioned the “for an offence that doesn’t warrant it”   he concluded, “OK, you get the penalties changed and I’d be more than happy to see them enforced”

So, there is Maria, with a tenant who is a convicted sex offender with a less then stellar history when it comes to interacting with humanity period.

What is the answer?

What is this woman to do?  Yes, she will deal with the rent tribunal or review board or whatever it is.  As I said earlier,  we can only hope that common sense will prevail.  If not, then what?

The one thing which did cross my mind is this:  when he was moving to Maria’s apartment Bellefeuille would have been required to give a change of address to police.  Would it not have been a small act of charity and a community service to let Maria know Bellefeuille’s history?  Do we citizens who are not thrilled to have sex offenders around our homes, children and/or grandchildren not deserve at least that?

How have we come to this?

And, yes, for those wondering, that is the same Sgt Jeff Carroll who was a witness at the Cornwall Public Inquiry .  (I see I didn’t get the transcripts posted, but I do have them and will post at a later date.)

Here is one blog I wrote 27 May 2007 while Marc Latour was testifying about  his sex abuse allegations against his Grade 3 Catholic School teacher Gilf Greggain.  The allegations were investigated by Sgt. Carroll.  Charges were not laid.

 How many victims are enough?

 Enough for now,

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2 Responses to How have we come to this?

  1. Baspuits says:

    Can anybody explain to me the need of a (secret) national registor/list of dangerous sexual predator (not so sure of its wording)! That only the prison and probation officers have and to my knowledge police have to apply, in order to get information on any predators! You,d think just the name would scare the hell out them! Maybe that’s why its called like that!
    How does this registor help me?
    We’ve still got a long……………………………….way to go!

  2. Sylvia says:

    I agree Baspuit. And I was thinking too that it’s all well and good to make a public announcement when he likes of Bellefeuille are released into a community, but that does nothing six-years-downstream to help the Marias of the community who didn’t catch that alert.

    I don’t know what the answer is. Barring life behind bars, I don’t know what the answer is. A publicly registry would certainly help. Most of the Sates have them. Why can we not have the same in Canada?

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