American Sex Offender Exiled to Canada
In an amazing display of American chutzpah and egocentricity and in a deal put together by Erie County (New York) District Attorney Frank Clark and Cheektowaga County Justice Thomas S. Kolbert, 35-year-old schoolteacher Malcolm Watson has been banished from the United States to Canada for three years for sex offenses — except for his monthly visits to an American probation officer. Hey, it was either that or a year in jail and oh! He forgot! The landed immigrant has a wife and children in Fort Erie, Ontario whom he probably needs to patch things up with. Wouldn’t it be fun to be the proverbial fly on the wall and watch the happy family reuniting right about now?
Watson pled guilty on Monday to misdemeanour charges of sexual abuse in the third degree and endangering the welfare of a child, while a felony sexual assault charge was dropped. Charges stemmed from an incident last April in which a 15-year-old Williamsville, NY girl and Watson were spotted parked in a car for two hours at the Walden Galleria shopping mall in Buffalo, NY. The pair were kissing and fondling. The girl, who was one of Watson’s students, “had stars in her eyes and was in love with him…And apparently he was flattered by her attentions and didn’t discourage her,” according to District Attorney Clark. Walden was chairman of the English department and an assistant head of the elite all-girls Buffalo Seminary.
Aside from the interesting legal question of whether an American court can banish a U.S. citizen from the country as punishment for a crime, the case has outraged Canadians, with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day saying: “Canada is not a safe haven for sexual predators who commit crimes in other countries.” The Buffalo News newspaper reported that Oscar Smukler, Watson’s dimwit attorney, researched Canadian immigration law and thought it was “unlikely that Canada will do anything” about the situation. Not.
An online petition named “Sex Offender Malcolm Watson Not Welcome in Canada” has been started at gopetition.com. The petition says: “We, the undersigned, call on the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to bar Malcolm Watson from Canada. We do not want the United States, or any other countries, to be sending us their criminals.”
On Tuesday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty urged Ottawa and the Federal government to take action, saying: “It’s obviously not the precedent that we want to allow the Americans to establish…It’s not the kind of thing that we’re prepared to accept…We will certainly work with the federal government…to ensure that we don’t become some kind of dumping ground for convicted offenders (from) south of the border.”
New Democrat Michael Prue termed Watson’s sentence “bizarre” and contrary to international law. Conservative House Leader Bob Runciman said: “The Official Opposition is prepared to move on this quickly, and provide some level of protection from sex offenders who commit crimes outside our borders.” Calling the American judge’s decision “mind-boggling and horrific,” he called for inclusion of people convicted of sex crimes outside of Ontario in Ontario’s sex offender registry. McGuinty said he would consider the idea but felt confident that “if we work together with the federal government, we will ensure that these individuals are not admitted to the country in the first instance.”
Watson was arrested by Canadian border guards on Wednesday, while returning to Canada from another Buffalo, NY court appearance. Outside the House of Commons, Day said: “We don’t want to see Canada become a haven for pedophiles or anyone else committing a serious crime…We don’t want U.S. courts getting the notion that we just take people here that they would have put in jail.” On Friday, Watson faces a detention review in Niagara Falls. He could be deported, and an application is being filed to bar his return to Canada. If deported from Canada, his American sentence will be null and void, and New York will have to figure out what to do with their own criminal.
Why Americans would think that Canada wouldn’t mind cleaning up our trash — especially a sex offender in a position of trust with a student — and why Judge Kolbert thought that American jurisprudence extended into the sovereign nation of Canada remains a mystery.
Read more sex offender news.
Photo credit: CP / CH News
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