Halfway house can’t handle sadistic offender: Lawyer

By Sue Yanagisawa
Local News - Thursday, November 04, 2004 @ 07:00

A developmentally handicapped man with a history of sex crimes against children and women has been released to a Kingston halfway house, despite concern that the facility is ill equipped to deal with him.

David Todd Fox, 41, who has tendencies toward sexual sadism and who was the first person declared a long-term-offender by an Ontario court, has completed his sentence.

Fox pleaded guilty in Ottawa in May 1998 to sexually assaulting and threatening to kill a 16-year-old hospital cleaner seven months earlier in Ottawa General Hospital’s emergency room washroom.

The judge sentenced him to three years and 10 months in prison after hearing that he’d grabbed the teenager around the neck before forcing her into a cubicle and forcibly touching her genitals.

It was his third sex crime conviction.

He was declared a long-term offender, meaning he can be closely monitored in the community for up to 10 years and must live in a community correctional centre; a mental health facility, like Providence Continuing Care, or a community residential home.

But agencies and officials disagree now about where to put Fox and how to supervise him.

“David’s the guy that nobody wants,” defence lawyer Dan Scully said when Fox appeared in a Kingston courtroom this week.

Fox appeared before Mr. Justice Geoff Griffin on a charge of violating conditions of his long-term-offender supervision order before he was released from custody.

He was given credit for 170 days spent in Quinte Detention, sentenced to one additional day in custody and released to the Portsmouth Community Correctional Centre.

Assistant Crown attorney Ross Drummond told the court that the charge was laid on the basis of a complaint from Providence Continuing Care Centre, where Fox was sent for assessment prior to release when his warrant of committal ran out in June.

The psychiatrist in charge of the Regional Treatment Centre attached to Kingston Penitentiary advised Providence Continuing Care’s forensic unit that Fox is prone to violence, sexually assaultive behaviour and poor impulse control.

Drummond told the court that Fox was unhappy about the move and wanted first to go to Picton, where he once lived, and then return to the Regional Treatment Centre at KP.

He refused his medications, verbally attacked another patient with racial slurs for sitting in a seat he’d vacated, and got into an argument with staff, threatening to kill all of the nurses.

The hospital filed a complaint that Fox had violated provisions of his long-term-offender release and he was removed to Quinte Detention.

Lawyer Scully called the hospital’s response “a travesty.”

Psychiatrists at Providence Continuing Care’s forensic unit think he should go to the Mental Health Centre Penatanguishene. But Penatanguishene doesn’t want him, and, according to Scully, the Portsmouth Centre, where he’s being sent, isn’t equipped to handle him.

“Everyone’s happy to say ‘he doesn’t belong to us,’ ” Scully told Mr. Justice Griffin, which means that by default Corrections Canada plans to send Fox to Kingston’s federal halfway house.

“What I fear is that we will see David back again very quickly,” Scully added.

He noted that institutions disagree on how to manage Fox.

“There’s this long, ongoing battle about who’s going to take care of him,” Scully said.

Dr. Michael Chan, of the forensic division of Providence Continuing Care Mental Health Services, told the judge he was involved in Fox’s assessment last June.

Now that Fox has served his prison sentence, Chan said, “my opinion is that he should start off in maximum security at Penatanguishine.”

But Dr. Brian Jones, chief of the forensic division of the Mental Health Centre in Penatanguishine, disagrees.

Scully told the judge that doctors at Penatanguishine don’t think his client meets their criteria because he’s deemed criminally responsible for his acts.

Jones said he isn’t convinced that Fox’s behaviour at Providence Continuing Care warrants transfer to Oakridges, the maximum-security forensic section at Penatanguishene.

He told the judge that the transfer also wouldn’t be “consistent with the long-term-offender supervision order crafted by the parole board,” because that order seems to contemplate Fox’s eventual release.

Jones told the court that Mental Health Services has offered to sit down with the Correctional Service of Canada to work out a plan for Fox’s release but “none of this is going to absolve CSC of having to provide long-term supervision.”

The Portsmouth Centre, Kingston’s federal halfway house, was never meant to provide the kind of supervision and treatment that Fox needs, Scully said.

He said special arrangements will have to be made to get Fox fed, since inmates at the centre do their own cooking and his client can’t cook for himself. He also expects that the centre will need extra security with Fox living there.

The judge asked Bruce Campbell, Fox’s parole supervisor and the person in charge of the Portsmouth Centre, if that was true.

“Sadly, Your Honour, I would agree with Mr. Scully’s opinions,” Campbell replied.

Campbell told the court that Fox needs psychiatric care “and in our opinion that risk cannot be managed in the community.”

He told the court that Kingston’s community correctional centre already has a higher proportion of sex offenders than any other in Ontario.

And he said he has concerns about Fox living at the Portsmouth Centre on Portsmouth Avenue, which backs onto a park where children play.

He also worries about the safety of four female staff members at the centre.

He pointed out that Fox is on psychotropic medications that are administered by injection. Staff at the centre can’t give injections, so Campbell said Fox would have to be taken twice daily to Collins Bay Institution to receive his medications. He told the court he can only hope that Providence Continuing Care will agree to provide Fox with counselling.

Drummond told the court that Fox is just the thin edge of the wedge. Since the long-term-offender legislation was introduced, 169 offenders have been designated for this kind of extended, close supervision and about 60 per cent of them will be released in Ontario, he said.

Fox’s 1998 conviction was his third strike.

A onetime resident of Prince Edward Heights, the Picton centre for mentally disabled adults that was closed by the provincial government in 1999, Fox was sent to Brockville Psychiatric Hospital on an involuntary committal in 1985.

He’d been caught luring two children, 10 and 11 years old, from a Picton park.

He stayed on at the hospital for seven years, eventually as a voluntary patient. In May 1995 he attacked a secretary in a Picton municipal building, groping her until her screams brought co-workers to her rescue.

He got eight months in jail.

After his release, he moved to Ottawa, where he took to hanging around hospitals.

In September 1996, he was convicted of a second sexual assault – he had reached into the car of a woman employee of Royal Ottawa Hospital and grabbed her breasts; she escaped by rolling up the window and trapping his hand.

He received his second eight-month jail sentence and three years of probation.

But two provincial jail sentences didn’t stop him.

Fourteen months later, on Nov. 2, 1997, he went after the teenager at Ottawa General and made the jump to penitentiary time.

At his long-term-offender hearing, Fox’s Ottawa lawyer argued that, because he’s aboriginal, the court should have followed sentencing guidelines that discourage the imposition of prison sentences on native people. The lawyer also argued that Fox’s crime wasn’t serious enough to warrant a prison sentence.

The judge, Jack Nadelle, decided that a penitentiary sentence and long-term-offender status were warranted to protect young women from Fox.

Psychiatric reports from Brockville Psychiatric Hospital and Penatanguishine, where Fox has also been previously hospitalized, were submitted to the court when the application to make him a long-term offender was argued.

The reports indicated he’d been having fantasies about strangling women and children and then having sex with them since 1984. And the court was aware that two of his three sexual assault victims were choked.

A long-term offender is theoretically a lesser risk to the public than a dangerous offender, who can be kept in prison indefinitely.

Fox chalked up additional charges during his federal prison stay, including assaults on guards, parlaying his original 46-month sentence into six years and one month.

Before Fox left the courtroom this week, the judge asked if he understood what people want from him.

He replied: “You want me to get out of jail and stay out of trouble.”