Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Mar 31 2015, Page 11

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - March 31, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE B3 winnipegfreepress. com MANITOBA WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2015 B 3 A Winnipeg teen said he committed two violent armed robberies because he was angry his girlfriend cheated on him. The 16- year- old, who can’t be named, became “ enraged” over the state of his relationship, court was told. In the most serious incident, he put a balaclava on, grabbed a knife and confronted two youths on the street. He demanded they hand over a bicycle, then slashed one of the victims in the neck and stabbed the other in the knee. Both suffered serious injuries. “ One teenage victim suffered a fourinch scar to his throat as well as major hearing loss in one ear. Further impacts include a numbness to one side of his face down to the region of his collarbone as well as a fear of going out in public which expresses itself by way of a more withdrawn and reclusive personality,” provincial court Judge Brian Corrin wrote in his decision. “ The other youth, the one who suffered the serious leg injury, has been left with significant scarring, numbness to the affected leg and still has pins in his legs as a consequence of necessary arthroscopic surgery. Several witnesses to the incident also expressed being emotionally and psychologically traumatized… ” In the other robbery — which occurred several months earlier — the boy armed himself with a pellet gun and held up a 7- Eleven store. He pointed the weapon at the clerk and demanded cash, then fled with $ 62. There were no physical injuries. Both crimes happened in 2012 when the boy was 14. A doctor who met with the teen prior to his sentencing hearing noted he suffered from “ anger and impulsive aggression.” It was linked to the fact he believes his girlfriend got involved with another teen. The youth pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery with a weapon and appeared in court last week for sentencing. He has spent the past 28 months in pre- trial custody. The Crown asked for a maximum youth sentence of three years and requested that no credit be given for time served. But Corrin rejected that. He ruled the teen would serve no additional time in custody. He was placed on two years of supervised probation. Corrin cited the youth’s troubled upbringing which includes bouncing around foster placements and battling drug and alcohol addictions. “ He was 11 years of age when he started drinking. He informed the interviewers that he was eight when he started smoking marijuana and was smoking this drug every day by the age of 10,” Corrin wrote in his decision. The boy has taken treatment programs and upgraded his education while in jail. He is being cared for by his grandparents, court was told. www. mikeoncrime. com A PROGRAM for sex offenders is losing half of its funding. Circles of Support and Accountability ( CoSA) is helping eight sex- offenders in Winnipeg reintegrate back into society. Correctional Services Canada announced more than a year ago it would no longer fund the program after March 31. “ It’s a bit of a frustrating situation,” codirector Jon Benson said. “ We have a program that has been proven to work and be very cost- effective… We are currently trying to negotiate and speak with the federal government to find money in the public safety budget for CoSA.” With 18 programs and 700 volunteers, CoSA organizers said the program supports 155 sexual offenders across Canada. With federal funding gone, the other funding only covers five out of the eight circles that Winnipeg hosts. “ We have a wait list that can go on forever,” co- director Natalia Ilyniak said. “ We have not ended any circles but as they naturally have ended, we haven’t been able to start them up again because we are… underfunded.” The circle is a weekly meeting with a sex- offender ( referred to as a core member), a staff member and two or three volunteers. The co- directors said an average circle costs $ 10,000 to $ 12,000, with some circles as new as three months and other circles that have been operating for 14 years. “ In Winnipeg, we are fortunate. There are 18 ( circles) across Canada and a lot of them are shutting down April 1 because they only had federal funding,” Benson said. The CoSA in Winnipeg also receives funds from private donors, the Mennonite Central Committee and the Manitoba government. “ Our major concern is that there are still people being released, and now they just don’t have supports and that is a huge safety issue.” A sex offender who is part of a circle, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote in an email that the federal funding cut is troubling. “ I think this program is extremely important. It was terrifying leaving jail. My crime is one that draws lots of stigma, so immediately I felt like all eyes were on me. “ That makes it extremely hard to focus on progress since really the reaction of society makes me want to hide. There were times where I thought I would be better off staying in jail. Fortunately, the numerous supports who helped me to move forward — CoSA being a key component of that — helped me to realize that the stigma is not as paralyzing as I feared it would be. “ This program has been such an integral part of my success in challenging limiting beliefs and in believing in my worth and value in society.” Sex offenders who have taken part in the program have a 70 per cent reduction rate in sexual recidivism and a 57 per cent reduction in all types of violent recidivism, a Public Safety Canada report said. “ Everyone hopes the person from jail doesn’t reoffend ( but) if the person is just ostracized, then how in the world do we expect that person to survive?” CoSA volunteer Erica Block said. “ It’s understandable ( but) I think the justice system need to work harder to prepare the person to leave the prison system.” The Public Safety Canada report showed statistics from another study stating twothirds of the offenders felt they would have returned to crime without CoSA, and 68 per cent of public respondents said they would feel safer if they knew that a high- risk sex offender in their community participated in CoSA. “ There is this misguided opinion that you’ve got to keep people in prison longer or they don’t deserve the help. And all that does is create more criminals. It’s not solving the problem, it’s locking up the problem,” CoSA volunteer Jim Chapryk said. A five- year evaluation done by the National Crime Prevention Centre found the program to be cost- effective. For every dollar invested in CoSA, $ 4.60 is saved in prison costs, the report stated. “ It’s a shame that so much energy has to go into trying to find funding here and there, when the circles have proven to be effective,” Ilyniak said. jenna. dulewich@ freepress. mb. ca What is CoSA? ORIGINATING in Ottawa, the Circles of Support and Accountability is a Mennonite nonprofit organization. It helps high- risk federal prisoners get back into society once they are released. The program is based on the principles of restorative justice. A group of four to seven trained volunteers supports and holds accountable a sex offender who is returning to the community after serving their full sentence. The released prisoner’s participation is voluntary. THE Progressive Conservatives want the government to release information regarding Child and Family Service involvement with troubled teen Tina Fontaine prior to her slaying last summer. The government said Monday it has nothing to release, and it needs to respect the police investigation into Fontaine’s death. “ There is an active police investigation that must be concluded before the department and the Office of the Children’s Advocate ( OCA) can do all the necessary interviews and finalize their reviews,” the government said. “ It’s important that CFS and the OCA do nothing that would jeopardize the search for Tina’s killer.” Tory critic Ian Wishart said CFS was the last public agency to have contact with the 15- yearold before her body was recovered from the Red River Aug. 17. Wishart said if Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin- Ross were to reveal what contact her department had with Fontaine, it could shed light on avoiding similar circumstances involving other young people who are wards of CFS, but are living on the street. “ Her department’s actions are something that should be in the public realm,” Wishart said, adding the release of the information would not conflict with the police investigation. “ We certainly want to make sure that no one is left at risk,” he said. Last week, Wishart said the number of missing children and youth per capita in Manitoba dwarfs that of any other province. From 2010 to 2014, the number of reported missing children and youth increased 22 per cent in Manitoba, while the Canadian average saw a 20 per cent decline. Winnipeg police receive about 6,500 missingperson reports each year, most of which involve vulnerable youth in CFS care. Wishart said because of the involvement of CFS, the province and Irvin- Ross bear responsibility in the girl’s case. He also said to respect privacy concerns, the province could release a redacted report. In its release, the provincial government stated: “ Because internal CFS reviews touch on the intimate details of the lives of children and families, these are not made public due to the need to respect their privacy. This right to privacy is protected by law.” Last week, police said they would not discuss the specifics of contact two officers had with Fontaine during a traffic stop on Aug. 8, days before her death. The girl was supposed to be in a group or foster home, but had run away and wasn’t seen for more than a week when police made the traffic stop. Police have told Fontaine’s family that all four people in the vehicle were intoxicated, the driver was taken into custody, but the others, including Tina, were let go. Later that day, Tina was found passed out in a lane near Ellice Avenue near the University of Winnipeg, taken to hospital by paramedics and later transferred to a downtown hotel by a CFS worker. She was last seen Aug. 9, walking away with a man who reportedly agreed to pay her for sex. She was subsequently reported missing in a police news release. Her body was recovered from the river a week later. Police said last week the two officers who had contact with Tina will not be charged, and are the focus of internal disciplinary proceedings. Police said one of the two officers is suspended without pay, while the second officer remains on administrative leave. bruce. owen@ freepress. mb. ca CFS report on Tina a private matter: province By Bruce Owen Pleading for federal cash Cuts to program that helps sex offenders let go from prison By Jenna Dulewich Tina Fontaine A convicted rapist was still on parole when he randomly attacked another young woman, whose pleas for help were recorded in a 911 call. Christopher Assiniboine, 32, was in court Monday for sentencing. Last year, a jury found him guilty of sexual assault and uttering threats for the July 2011 attack on Balmoral Street. Crown and defence lawyers agreed Assiniboine should be deemed a long- term offender and placed on 10 years of community supervision upon his release from prison. They disagreed on a date for his release. The Crown sought an eight- year sentence, with Assiniboine receiving single- time credit for 33 months of time served. Defence lawyer Bruce Bonney sought a six- year penalty, with time- anda- half credit deducted for the pre- trial custody. The judge reserved her decision. Assiniboine had 36 convictions, including the 2009 rape of a 14- year- old girl. Assiniboine was given a 3 ½ - year sentence for that crime. He got statutory release in May 2011 after serving twothirds of his term. After only eight days, Assiniboine breached his parole by failing to report to a probation officer. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but Assiniboine committed another crime before police could catch him. Less than three months after his release from prison, Assiniboine attacked an 18- year- old woman he met while walking downtown. She was headed to her nearby home after leaving a bar. Assiniboine forced the teen to remove her clothing, then raped her twice. She managed to dial 911 but was unable to speak. An emergency operator listened as she said, “ No, no, no. I don’t want this.” Assiniboine was arrested a few weeks later due to DNA evidence. “ The circumstances ( of both sexual assaults) are eerily similar,” Crown attorney Geoff Bayly told court Monday. He said it’s clear Assiniboine poses a high risk to public safety and can’t be stopped despite enrolling in treatment in prison. Assiniboine had a horrendous upbringing that included the suicide of his father, being abandoned by his mother, physical and sexual abuse while in foster care and addictions issues, court was told. “ He’s not beyond redemption,” Bonney told court. He said the long- term offender designation will act as a “ significant hammer hanging over his head” because any breaches would put him back behind bars indefinitely. “ I’m willing to move forward in my life. I want to be a father to my daughter,” Assiniboine said Monday. www. mikeoncrime. com Cheating sparked crimes, thief says By Mike McIntyre Repeat rapist ‘ not beyond redemption,’ defence insists By Mike McIntyre PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Co- directors Jon Benson and Natalia Ilyniak say a program that helps sex offenders reintegrate into society saves prison costs down the line. B_ 03_ Mar- 31- 15_ FP_ 01. indd B3 3/ 30/ 15 10: 10: 27 PM

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