Sex offender’s stay at halfway house is for public’s protection

Bonnie Belec
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Parole Board of Canada says Joseph McGrath is a challenge to manage in the community

For the fifth time since 2010, the Parole Board of Canada has extended a sex offender’s stay at a halfway house.

Joseph McGrath.

And once again the board has denied St. John’s native Joseph McGrath any leave privileges during the six-month period.

The 39-year-old is also the subject of a 10-year, long-term supervision order imposed upon him after he was convicted in 1999 of two counts of sexual assault, four counts of breaching court orders, uttering threats and possession of a firearm.

He was sentenced to almost four years, after which the supervision order kicked in.

In 2004, McGrath breach­ed his supervision order and was sentenced to four months in prison after being convicted of hit and run while driving a car without insurance or registration.

Five years later, he was once again convicted of breaching the order by accessing child pornography and possessing child pornography after a Correctional Service of Canada worker found images on McGrath’s computer at the Stella Burry residence —

a community services centre in St. John’s.  

As part of the supervision order, McGrath is prohibited from being in, near or around places where children under the age of 18 are likely to gather, unless accompanied by an adult approved by his parole supervisor. He is also prohibited from using or possessing any technological device that would allow McGrath to have unsupervised Internet access.

In the parole board’s decision, publicly released this week, it concluded McGrath is a high risk to reoffend given his personal/emotional issues, his ability to function in the community and his attitude, all of which require a high need for improvement.

“Psychologists have diagnosed you with bipolar disorder and social anxiety disorder, describing you as an opportunistic sexual offender,” says the decision, which notes his mental-health issues are being addressed through medication and counselling.

The decision says while McGrath has completed some programs, is attending meetings and has become more positive after adjustments to his medications, he is still a challenge to manage in the community “due to your limited insight, your continued minimization and justification and your high levels of anxiety.”

McGrath’s case-management team, according to the decision, is of the opinion a residency condition of his supervision order remains necessary and reasonable in managing his risk to reoffend in the absence of supportive and supervised accommodation in the community.

“Despite programming and interventions to address the risk factors contributing to your criminality over the years, you have had difficulty controlling your sexual impulses and avoiding crimes,” says the decision.

“The board notes your risk remains high and you continue to need close monitoring and supervision to mitigate your risk to reoffend. Taking all of these factors into consideration, the board has concluded that the special condition is reasonable and necessary in order to protect society and to facilitate your successful reintegration into society,” members concluded.

Organizations: Parole Board of Canada, Correctional Service of Canada

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Recent comments

  • Carol Ann Rogers
    March 02, 2014 - 16:58

    The board should have ordered one for each day (365) T-shirts that say "Stay away from me. I am dangerous."to protect society and to facilitate your successful reintegration into society.”