April 17-24, 1997
New Charge Raises Questions About Paedophile's PardonA police officer who investigates paedophiles has questioned why the National Parole Board grants pardons to people convicted of sex crimes against children. Det. Noreen Waters, of the Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit in Vancouver, told the Straight that collectors of child pornography are "driven" to obtain this material. "I'm not a psychologist, so I can't say that they're incurable," Waters said. "But we see that these people may have offended years ago, and then we'll come across them in relation to pornography.... They don't give it up."
Waters wouldn't speak specifically about Paul Leroux, the former regional director of the Canadian Human Rights Commission who was recently charged in Vancouver with possession of child pornography. In 1979, Leroux was convicted of molesting a boy in Inuvik, and he later obtained a pardon.
After a pardon is granted, the offender's criminal history is wiped clean so that not even the police can find out if the person has been convicted. The parole board's statistics show that 85,981 people convicted of indictable offences obtained pardons in Canada between 1991/92 and January 1997.
In a brief interview, Leroux wouldn't say if he was hired by the commission before or after he received his pardon, John Hucker, secretary general of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, told the Straight that Leroux was hired by the commission in 1981 or 1982. He said he didn't know if the commission officials knew at the time that Leroux had been convicted of molesting a boy.
People convicted of a summary offence can apply for a pardon three years after the end of their sentence; those convicted of an indictable offence may apply after five years.
Hucker said Leroux was regional director in Vancouver from 1988 to 1993 or 1994. Leroux has since worked on contract for both the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the B.C. Human Rights Commission.
Mary-Woo Sims chief commissioner of the B.C. Human Rights Commission, told the Straight that Leroux investigated six cases while on a contract that ended in October 1995. Sims said commission staff didn't know that Leroux was a pardoned sex offender.
When asked how she would view the hiring of a pardoned sex offender if she was aware of the offence, Sims replied: "We wouldn't be discriminating against a person because of a previous conviction for which a pardon was received. That's contrary to our code."
Meanwhile, three Vancouver human-rights complainants whose cases were investigated by Leroux have told the Straight that they felt he favoured more powerful respondents. Former Justice Department lawyer Georgina Spilos, whose complaint against the department and Revenue Canada was detailed in the Straight a year ago, claimed that Leroux failed to interview material witnesses and failed to consider evidence that she had submitted to the federal commission supporting her case.
Glen Hendrickson and Peter Theodiridis, two former Vancouver music-store employees, are still waiting to find out if they'll get a hearing in connection with a three-year old complaint about their former employer and a subsequent complaint about a B.C. Human Rights Commission investigation. Leroux investigated the latter complaint.
"I just talked to Ms. [Kelly] Speck, the commissioner for B.C. investigations, this morning," Hendrickson said on April 15. "She finds nothing wrong with Mr. Leroux and stood up for him all the way along, even after I informed her that I had five months of tapes of him [misrepresenting the case]."
Leroux refused to discuss these particular cases. "I have always investigated all my files with the utmost impartiality and care to make sure to bring out the evidence from both sides...and make recommendation in that regard," he said. "After that, there's a legal process whereby people can appeal. Every time you investigate a human-rights complaint, either the respondent or the complainant, depending on the outcome, is not completely satisfied."
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