#childpredator | Former Niagara Falls man Robert Sowell, a sexual predator, declared dangerous offender | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

Hope always knew the monster would strike again.

In 2007, Robert Sowell preyed on her two young sons, robbing them of their childhoods.

Hope, her real name withheld in order to protect the identities of her children, knew that no jail sentence could stem the Niagara Falls man’s appetite for preteen boys.

She was right.

Not long after he was released from custody after serving time for numerous sex-related charges involving young boys in Niagara Falls, he relocated to Hamilton and resumed trolling the internet for victims.

“I spent a lot of my time and a lot of my life devoted to him not getting out the first time,” said Hope.

“When it came time for him to be released I was opposed to it but there was nothing I could do. Once time is served, time is served. When I found out he re-offended, I was like, ‘I told you so.’”

Sowell was declared a dangerous offender by Justice Fred Campling in Hamilton on March 12 following a hearing launched by the Crown’s office in relation to child luring-related offences which occurred in Hamilton in 2016.

The dangerous offender designation means the 38-year-old will be jailed indefinitely. He can apply for parole after seven years.

The ruling is typically reserved for the most violent criminals and sexual offenders such as notorious schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo.

Sowell was sentenced to seven years behind bars in 2008 after he was convicted of molesting a number of boys in Niagara Falls, who were between the ages of eight and 11.

At the time of the offences, Sowell lived in a townhouse complex in the north end of Niagara Falls.

He worked at a daycare centre at a local church and would prowl the internet, befriending young boys.

In early 2007, three Niagara Falls teenagers came across a chat between Sowell and a young boy on the boy’s MSN Instant Messenger account. The concerned trio contacted police.

When Niagara Regional Police subsequently searched his residence, detectives found a collection of about 4,000 pictures of child pornography and 12,600 images of nude or semi-nude children on his computer.

There were also 73 child pornography videos, some showing boys as young as two being sexually abused by adult males.

Court in 2008 was told Sowell suffers from a pedo-hebephilia, meaning his sexual preference is prepubescent and pubescent boys.

Police do not believe any children at the daycare were assaulted by Sowell as they were “too young for his preference.” His targets were boys aged eight to 10.

The judge in the case said the man’s sexual disorder is “lifelong and there is no known treatment proven to change sexual preference.”

Medical officials deemed him at moderate-to-high risk to re-offend.

When initially questioned by police, Sowell admitted he had abused several boys, one of whom he used to babysit.

“I thought I had been blessed,” Hope told court back in 2008.

The single mother was new to Niagara Falls in 2007 and had been looking for a babysitter when several neighbours recommended Sowell.

“He was like a big brother to children he cared for,” she wrote in a statement submitted in court. “Now, a part of me has died inside. If anyone ever mentions that word (babysitter) my skin crawls.”

In another submitted statement, one victim, then 12, said: “I would feel a lot better if there were no bad people in the world.”

Another wrote: “I have lost my sense of security. I can’t trust anyone.”

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The local Crown attorney in 2008 said the internet “provides child sexual predators with a new frightening window into the secure home environment of children.”

More than 13 years later, the mother of two of Sowell’s victims said the online portal remains wide open to sexual predators and urges parents to closely monitor their child’s online activities.

“I find it so crazy these days that parents give cellphones to eight-year-olds and even younger,” Hope said.

“You need to monitor everything 1,010 per cent because they can come across these sites and have no idea what is going on. You just never know what might happen.”

Her sons, now in their 20s, are “doing amazing considering everything that went on.”

“But, it definitely hasn’t been an easy road,” she said “It has been hell.”

She said the federal government needs to take a sober second look at judicial penalties for child sexual offenders, penalties she calls “flawed and outdated.”

“Even though the paperwork says the person is going to re-offend, they have to let them out. They’re letting them out knowing this is a disease that cannot be cured.”

The original police investigator for the Niagara crimes, Dave Weeks, said Sowell is a “very skilled groomer of children.”

“It has always been my opinion that incarceration is the only truly effective means of stopping a child sexual offender,” he said.

“It is society’s shame that any child molester has a second chance to offend.”

Not longer after Sowell was released from custody after serving time for the Niagara crimes, he was arrested by the Hamilton Police Service for similar offences.

The RCMP in Saskatchewan launched an investigation in 2016 after receiving a complaint that a man was using several social media applications to try to lure a child.

Police determined the online interactions originated in Hamilton.

Det. Const. Jeremy Miller, of the Hamilton Police Service’s internet child exploitation unit, said Sowell is appealing the dangerous offender designation.

“Due to the matter still being before the courts, there is not much more I can elaborate on at this time,” he said.

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