New bill would stop convicted child sex predators from changing names | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

If passed, the new law would see Ontario join other provinces in banning name changes

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A bill introduced at Queen’s Park on Wednesday is looking to stop child sex offenders from changing their names.

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Believe it or not, a convicted sex predator, who has targeted children, can easily change their name in Ontario.

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MPP Laurie Scott, who represents Haliburton-Kawartha Lake-Brock, and MPP Laura Smith, who represents Thornhill, are both sponsoring the bill to make the changes.

“It was shocking,” Scott said when she first learned of the loophole.

“We have to stop the ability of criminals to sever that tie with their criminal past and start new lives.”

She said that the current laws allow the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to get a new start, something their victims often can’t do as they continually deal with the trauma of what happened to them. While anyone changing their name still ends up in the public record when it is published in the Ontario Gazette, that’s a government publication few people look at.

The Ford government had promised to close this loophole almost four years ago, when Premier Doug Ford reacted to a story posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Jan. 28, 2020.

“Brian, I agree this is atrocious. I am looking into this,” Ford said at the time.

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Weeks later, the entire government would be consumed in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the attempt to change the law then fell by the wayside. Now, Scott and Smith are picking up where a previous bill by former PC MPP Christina Mitas left off.

“This stops the Karla Homolkas of the world from becoming Leanne Teale,” Smith said.

Homolka is the most notorious child sex predator in Canada to have changed their name but she’s not alone. Over the years, the Sun has documented many cases of convicts changing their names, even while in prison, and then finding new victims.

Abusing the system so that they can abuse more children is what too many have done in the past.

James Dean Barnett was convicted of molesting children in the 1980s, served only a few months in prison and then years later changed his name to Tyler Giles and found a new group of children to prey upon. David Donald Shumey served time in a Las Vegas prison for abusing young girls but changed his name to David Donald Stryker when he returned to live in Regina, Saskatchewan after his prison term was up.

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Saskatchewan has since changed the rules to prevent such name changes, as has Alberta.

“The right to change one’s name should not be abused,” Smith said while discussing the bill before it was introduced.

Stopping these name changes from happening isn’t just a punitive measure to punish criminals, it’s about public safety. Convicts who change their name can prey on unsuspecting new victims, and their families, who would have no way of knowing about the disturbing past their new neighbour brings with them.

“You can’t put the rights of these convicted criminals above the rights of victims,” Smith said.

“This is further protection,” Scott added.

The two MPPs pointed to federal statistics showing that the recidivism rate runs as high as 35% for some categories of child molesters.

The bill has the backing of victim services groups and police associations in Ottawa, Niagara and Smith’s Falls.

Quite frankly, it should get the backing of the opposition parties to be passed as quickly as possible.

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