There was misfortune in Hong Kong, COVID-19 unjustly taking far too many people, and in Edmonton, the case of one Wade Stene had its latest development when his bail was revoked and he was taken back into custody by police in the city on Tuesday.
For those unfamiliar with this seemingly routine activity, it came after the accused — heavy emphasis on accused — sexual predator was charged with kidnapping an eight-year-old girl in March and assaulting her at knifepoint. Earlier media reports said he had no prior record and in a decision with a stunning lack of depth, he was released in June to house arrest in the neighbourhood where the victim lives.
The man’s lawyer warned of vigilante justice, and naturally, protests followed. The sad saga will wind its way through the legal system to determine whether the accused is found not guilty or convicted, but as I watched this all unfold from my computer screen, I could not help asking myself this: why are there not more preventative measures for people who are found guilty of these offences?
Would it make a difference if someone who has these kinds of thoughts, but has not yet acted on them, could safely go to the police for help or treatment that would be kept strictly confidential, and with a bit of luck, could move the needle for some in a positive direction?
I posted a query about the issue on Facebook and asked my retired law enforcement father about the notion and the response was predictably mixed. Some people came down harsh on those with this issue and I certainly understand that sentiment, especially when any child could be victimized. The other perspectives noted it could be worth a shot but also said that people with a serious mental condition — and attraction to children certainly counts as one in my book — could not be changed any more than someone with any sexual orientation.
To that, I say this: conversion therapy for people in the LGBTQ+ community has been debunked for the junk science that it is and it is insulting to equate people in that wonderful group with accused and convicted predators. The analogy will never fly with me and, when it comes to the study of people in Stene’s alleged circle, there really has not been enough to come to a definitive conclusion on the question in any way.
A publication from Harvard in 2010 found that people who have this abnormal behaviour are “unlikely to change”, Jon Brown — a representative of the United Kingdom’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said in a 2014 article published by VICE that “non-offending pedophiles” do exist and that “selfishly, they do not want to end up in prison” and a man who was already convicted of the issue made headlines in the National Post in 2017 when he claimed an Ottawa clinic cured him and “freed [him] completely.”
This is not an easy issue to talk about and it never will be. But, the fact is, we could use a little more proactive policy to go along with the reactive mechanisms of the legal system. Those who are struggling should find some sort of help and, if they do not commit an offence, should not be met with scorn and excoriation from the rest of us in society who are not dealing with similar and deeply-rooted demons.
Suicide hotlines do not always work but when they do we credit them for saving lives, it is time the same exists for pedophilia.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .