Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow student following a campus party, was recently released from jail after serving just three months of his six-month sentence. Upon release, Turner was given five days to register as a sex offender, and has registered in Ohio, where he has returned to live.
Turner has been registered as a Tier III sex offender- the harshest of the three levels in Ohio. Tier III offenders include those who have been convicted of the most serious crimes such as rape, sexual battery, or murder with a sexual motivation, and require the offender to register every 3 months for life.
Turner’s name, address, and photo will be publicly available on Ohio’s online registry. His neighbours will also receive postcards from the sheriff’s office, informing them that a sex offender is living in their vicinity.
As a registered sex offender, Turner cannot work with children, or live close to places where children frequently spend time, such as parks, schools, or playgrounds. Turner will be subject to random drug and alcohol tests and searches of his home. He cannot travel without informing authorities.
Sex Offender Registries in Canada
Most jurisdictions in Canada also have sex offender registries. A primary difference is that Canadian sex offender registries are not publicly available, and are only accessible to law enforcement and authorities.
Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to establish a sex offender registry.
The Ontario Sex Offender Registry (OSOR) was created following the abduction and murder of 11-year old Christopher Stephenson by a convicted sex offender in the late 1980’s. After the Coroner’s Inquest into Christopher’s death, a registry for convicted, dangerous, high-risk sexual offenders was recommended. The registry was created in April of 2001, when the provincial government proclaimed Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry, 2000).
Who Must Register?
Registration on the OSOR is mandatory for anyone who is a resident of Ontario and has been:
- Convicted of a “sex offense” (as defined by Christopher’s Law), anywhere in Canada.
- Found “not criminally responsible” (NCR) for a “sex offense” due to a mental disorder and given an absolute or conditional discharge
- Given an obligation to report under the federal Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) and related Criminal Code provisions.
Offences that are included in the definition of “sex offense” under Christopher’s Law, and convictions for which require registration on the OSOR are:
- Offences related to sexual offences against children
- Sexual interference
- Invitation to sexual touching
- Sexual exploitation (age 14 to under 18)
- Sexual exploitation of a person with disability
- Compelling bestiality
- Bestiality in presence of or by a child
- Child pornography
- Accessing child pornography
- Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity
- Luring a child by means of computer system
- Exposure to person under age 14
- Stupefying or overpowering for the purpose of sexual intercourse
- Living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18
- Aggravated offence – living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18
- Obtaining prostitution of person under 18
- Sexual assault
- Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
- Aggravated sexual assault – use of firearm
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Removal of a child from Canada
Offenders convicted of a sex offense must initially register, in person, at their local police jurisdiction within 7 days after:
- Completion of prison or jail time for the offense
- Conviction where not given prison or jail time
- A finding of NCR and an absolute or conditional discharge
- Becoming subject to certain obligations under the Criminal Code and other laws.
After the initial report, those listed on the OSOR must also report within 7 days of:
- A change of address or name
- A return to Ontario if outside of Ontario when required to report
- Ceasing to be a resident of Ontario.
Offenders must report for:
- 10 years: if the maximum sentence for their crime is less than 10 years, and they have a conviction for only one sex offense
- Life: if they are convicted of more than one sex offense or they are convicted of a single offense with a maximum sentence of more than 10 years.
Ontario’s system tracks compliance- if an offender fails to check in on time, the system issues an automatic red flag for law enforcement agencies.
Information about the Offender
The OSOR will include information such as the offender’s:
- Name (current, former, and any aliases)
- Physical description (including height, weight, build, gender, race, scars or other identifying features)
- Current and historical photos (including any of scars of other identifying marks)
- Valid proof of identity
- Main and secondary address of residence, workplace, school, and volunteer organizations
- Telephone number(s)
- Convictions for sex offence(s)
- Vehicle details (including any vehicle leased, owned, registered, or regularly driven by the offender)
Police have direct access to the OSOR 24/7. The OSOR is not available to the public, but the public is able to find out about the concentration of sex offenders in their region.
Federally, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) became law in 2004. After that date everyone listed on the OSOR and anyone else that was serving a sentence for a sex crime were added to the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR).
Who Must Register
Courts must now grant orders requiring individuals sentenced for certain designated offences or a person found NCR for those offences to register on the NSOR for 10 years, 20 years, or the remainder of the person`s life (depending on the maximum sentence for the offense and the number of offenses the person is convicted of).
The designated offences that require registration on the NSOR are the same as those that are considered “sex offences” under Christopher’s Law (see above).
Sex offenders that are to be put on the NSOR are subject to similar reporting obligations as those on the OSOR. Namely, they must report to their local police within a specified period of time following their release from custody or finding of NCR.
They must similarly notify the NSOR of major changes such as change of name or address, or if they are planning to leave their residence for more than 7 consecutive days.
Information about the Offender
The NSOR includes the same information as Ontario’s registry, and also includes details of the offender’s modus operandi.
Implications of Being a Registered Sex Offender in Canada
In addition to adhering to strict reporting obligations, offenders who are on the OSOR and NSOR may also be subject to conditions such as curfews, staying away from schools/other areas that children frequent, and restrictions on entering certain countries, such as the U.S.
While neither the provincial nor the federal registries are public, offenders who move to communities following their release are often subject to “vigilante justice” by neighbours and others who find out about the offender’s presence in the community. These community activists often connect informally and share information about offenders who are living in their area. They take photos of the offenders, make posters, post information online, and often publicly shame the offender (often to the point of harassment).
For example: in 2014, a registered offender moved to the Hamilton area, after serving a five-year prison sentence for two sexual assaults. Angry mothers in the community organized together, printed posters of the offender’s name and face, and posted them around the community. The community backlash forced the offender to move to another city, where he encountered a similar response. The offender is now back in custody for breaching his curfew.
Brock Turner has been subject to a similar response in the Ohio town in which he lives. Shortly following Turner’s return home, a dozen protestors began organizing outside of Turner’s home. Ohio is an open carry state, and many of the protestors were openly armed with high caliber rifles. They carried signs calling for the castration and killing of rapists, with the goal of returning frequently to make Turner “uncomfortable in his own home”.
If you have been charged with a sexual offense, or have questions about your rights, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.