(Author: Tricia Franginha)
Many of you will already know my story. I am a survivor of over a decade of sexual abuse within the organization which was covered up by dozens of elders. But that story has already been told. If you haven’t heard my story yet, you can hear that here and here.
What I’m about to do is give you a glimpse into my professional world which involves working with federal offenders incarcerated for the most heinous of crimes. Why am I doing this, you might ask? It is my belief that in order to fully understand how the Elders fail to protect members of their congregations, as well as members of the public, we must first examine how the experts do this. From there we are able to discern weather or not the elders’ measure up to this standard.
So what qualifies me to speak on this topic?
As a survivor I was compelled to pursue a career which would not only help me understand my own childhood trauma, but also help me to prevent similar nightmares from happening to others. I became more and more interested through the course of my education in focusing on understanding offenders, why they do the things they do, and what the signs and probability of re-offending are for certain types of offences. In this case, we will be discussing sexual offences involving children. So read no further if you are faint of heart.
I graduated with honors in Criminal Justice from Athabasca University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. I have since been employed by the Correctional Service of Canada as a first responder in the following areas: medical emergencies, assaults, homicide, suicide intervention, hostage negotiation, serious incident negotiation, riot response, and fire response. But that’s not all I do. Equally as important as my first responder role is my management of an offender caseload. Working for the Federal Service of Canada means working with offenders who are serving long sentences for serious crimes. The main focus of my caseload is to assist in their rehabilitation and make recommendations to the Parole Board of Canada based on my own risk assessments of the offender on the process they’ve made and the to what degree the offender is still a risk to the community, if any.
I’m going to take you through one of those risk assessments to show you first hand how these are made. I will be basing this assessment on a real case involving a sex offender who identifies as a Jehovah’s Witness. Names, dates, and locations have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. Some sensitive details of the crime have also been removed so as to do my best not to trigger any survivors of sexual violence who may be reading this. For all intensive purposes, the subject of the assessment will be named TRUDEAU. Yes, after our oh so dreamy Prime Minister.
The purpose of this report is to review Mr. TRUDEAU’s request for Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA’s) to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses (church).
Mr. S. TRUDEAU is a 62 year old first time federal offender serving an 8 year sentence for Rape, Incest, and 4 counts of Indecent Assault. He is a Canadian citizen and as such is not subject to deportation. His first choice of official language is English. There are no outstanding charges and no appeals pending. A review of the Sentence Management screen indicates court ordered obligations including a section 109 order (weapons prohibition) for a period of 10 years and a Section 161 order (prohibition on child contact) for 13 years.
Mr. TRUDEAU is on his second year of an 8 year sentence and is a Minimum security offender. He has regular visits from church representatives called ‘Elders’ who encourage him to study the bible regularly. He does not attend institutional church services as he states it conflicts with his established set of beliefs.
OFFICIAL VERSION OF INDEX OFFENCES
The victim of the comprised offences was the subject’s biological daughter. The following summary of the current offences was obtained from information provided in police reports and Judge’s comments at time of sentencing.
The police reports note that between 1999 and 2006 the victim (daughter) and the subject resided together with other family members in Penoka, Alberta. The victim at the time was between 10-17 years of age. The reports note that sometime between June and September 1999 the subject forced intercourse with the victim and impregnated her. The victim gave birth to the subject’s child in April 2001. The report further notes that after the victim gave birth to the child, the subject continued to sexually assault the victim on a regular basis until she reached the age of 17 and moved out of the family home.
However, the reports further indicate that the subject forced intercourse with the victim one more time when the victim was approximate 20 years old. It is noted that at the time the subject attended the victim’s residence in a nearby community and told the victim that he had a fantasy of wanting to drug the victim and have sexual intercourse with her. The victim did not want to be drugged and gave in to the subject’s demands for intercourse.
The reports further indicate that the victim advised that she did not resist the sexual assaults because her father made utterances of suicide and other forms of hurting himself to coerce her. He also threatened expulsion from their religious community if she did not comply. The victim reports that the assaults were reported to religious ‘Elders’ who were aware of the ongoing occurrences of abuse and who did not report the abuse to any proper authorities. She believes many of her family members, including her mother, knew about the incestuous relationship but refused to say anything.
According to the Reasons for Sentence the subject plead guilty. The Judge points out that the subject controlled the victim’s conduct through various forms of manipulation which included threats of violence towards other family members.
The sentencing judge commented further indicating that during the victim’s pregnancy the subject denied impregnating his own child, compelled her to make false representations to the church in order to keep the true nature of affairs a secret. He engaged in acts of physical violence which were designed on occasion to cause a miscarriage and maintain the secrecy of his conduct.
The Judge’s comments point out that “Although the abuse of the complainant by the offender was suspected, or made known to a number of individuals while this was occurring, including members of the local church community (The Jehovah’s Witnesses), assorted relatives and members of victim’s own family, no one ever reported the offender’s conduct to the police or child welfare authorities.
The victim reported the incidents of sexual assault several years later as she was concerned that the offender would continue to remain a sexual threat in the community. The Victim Impact Statement detail the consequences the complainant suffered as a result of the sexual offending committed against her by her father. The consequences include, but are not limited to, suicidal ideation, compromises to her mental health, a lack of self confidence, a distrust in men, depression, chronic fatigue, an inability to work, post traumatic stress disorder, impairment to her romantic and sexual relationships, feelings of shame and embarrassment, fear of ostracism. She also suffers from a generalized feeling of lack of self-worth, fear of abandonment, and alienation as a result of her disassociation from her parents and all but one of her four siblings, denial of a high school education, and a continued financial hardship.
There is file information to suggest Mr. TRUDEAU did not cooperate with the police after his arrest. Mr. TRUDEAU states that he takes full responsibility of his offences, however, this writer concludes that even after completing the majority of his core programming he only takes partial responsibility for the following reasons. Mr. TRUDEAU’s expressed remorse for his actions only pertain to the subject of being caught. He has stated he is open to any treatment, and has completed programming to up to this point, simply to pass the time as he believes he does not need it. Furthermore, this writer’s discussions with Mr. TRUDEAU have revealed that he does not believe there to be any harm caused to the victim. Mr. TRUDEAU feels that their sexual relations were consensual and pleasurable to the victim. Mr. TRUDEAU has also made mention that his relationship with the victim was a replacement for his relationship with his wife whom he was no longer attracted to and he appeared not to see anything wrong with it, as he was remaining faithful to the tenants of his faith by not seeking a divorce and that his wife should be grateful for his loyalty in this regard.
CONTRIBUTING RISK FACTORS
Substance Abuse (High Need of Improvement)
Results from the Computerized Assessment of Substance Abuse indicated the need for high intensity programming. Mr. TURDEAU has been abusing alcohol now for many years. He had addictions previously to alcohol, heroin, and OxyContin. Mr. TRUDEAU states that his abuse of narcotics ceased when he and his wife found their faith and became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to that, he had less than two months of sobriety in total within a 23 year period of abusing substances. Mr. TRUDEAU states that his religion prohibits the use of illicit drugs but allows for the consumption of alcohol. Therefore, Mr. TRUDEAU turned to alcohol to replace his dependency on narcotics. Substances have been used a form of self medication. Mr. TRUDEAU was intoxicated on every instance of sexual misconduct with the victim. The offender has never attempted treatment in the community as he states all treatment programs run contradictory to his faith. Furthermore Mr. TRUDEAU feels his has full control of himself when he drinks. Mr. TRUDEAU has been required to attend institutional programming to develop skills to manage his addiction. In terms of social history, he was not exposed to substance abuse in his home growing up but came to use substances to cope with her life circumstances and underlying emotional issues from his youth.
This writer feels Mr. TRUDEAU’s engagement in his treatment programs for Substance Abuse has been minimal at best. He continues to deny the fact that he has a problem and has been known to walk out of the classroom any time traditional methods of treatment are discussed. Therefore, he remains assessed as having a HIGH NEED of improvement in this domain.
Personal/Emotional (High Need of Improvement)
Mr. TRUDEAU’S victim is his biological daughter. Understandably this has put great strain on family dynamics. Mr. TRUDEAU began having marital problems before any of his five children were born. These problems included but were not limited to his substance abuse, his pornography addiction, and physical violence. All five of Mr. TRUDEAU’s children grew up witnessing family violence in the household. His three eldest, all boys, appear to defend their father’s use of physical violence as they perceive it as a healthy form of discipline.
According to the Victim Impact Statement and police notes, it is apparent that many immediate family members, including the victim’s mother (Mr. TRUDEAU’s wife) were aware of the ongoing sexually assaultive behaviour between the offender and his daughter. The family were fearful of the consequences should they say anything to tear the family apart. Therefore, communication fell to the wayside and the family bonds disintegrated to a point of non-existence. Nevertheless, Mr. TRUDEAU’s wife and eldest son continue to show support to the offender through the course of his incarceration and visit him regularly. Mr. TRUDEAU’s wife and son attend the Kingdom Hall he has requested to attend on his ETA’s and say his presence there would be warmly welcomed.
Mr. TRUDEAU’s core programming as identified by this writer in his initial Correctional Plan dated 2016-05-22 requires the offender to complete family violence programming and regular psychological visits. However, to this date Mr. TRUDEAU has refused to complete these programs as he feels his faith is the only thing that can rebuild his family and carry them through this time. As a result of his non compliance in this area, Mr. TRUDEAU remains assessed as having a HIGH NEED of improvement in this area.
STRUCTURED PLAN FOR THE PURPOSE OF TEMPORARY ABSENCE
The purpose of this ETA is to give Mr. TRUDEAU the opportunity to expand on his spiritual understanding in the community while demonstrating that he can manage his own risk and work towards the possibility of Day Parole / Full Parole. He also hopes to establish positive community supports for his eventual release.
Decision #2 – Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Destination: Ripley, Alberta
10728 124 Street, Ripley, Alberta
When: Every second Sunday, 11:00 AM
Duration: Duration should not exceed 3 hours, including travel time.
Mode of Transportation: Institutional Vehicle
Type of Escort Recommended: One Correctional Office, as Mr. TRUDEAU is a minimum security inmate.
Type of Restraint Equipment: Handcuffs and/or leg irons to be carried by officer.
Level of Supervision: Sight or Sound at all times
Mr. TRUDEAU has served two years of an eight year sentence with no previous ETA’s to this date. He is serving a sentence for an offence pertaining to family violence and incest – some members of his family attend the same congregation he is requesting to attend. Due to Mr. TRUDEAU’s failure to comply with his Correctional Plan by refusing to attend necessary programming to mitigate his risk to the public, he is therefore assessed as having MODERATE public safety risk at this time.
So there you have it, this is an example of all the considerations to be taken into account when someone’s public safety risk is in question. Family history, Accountability, Cooperation, History of Violence, Associates and Relationships as well as other factors as each case requires.
Part two of this blog will discuss how this compares to the Jehovah’s Witness’s procedure for assessing risk in cases of sexual violence. I will also discuss the question of whether or not pedophiles can be successfully rehabilitated and what this means for public safety when the Jehovah’s Witnesses simply disfellowship an offender – at most – as a sanction to alleged abuse.
Stay tuned to VastApostateArmy.com!