As for us monitoring people, we do so at times, but not regularly as there would be thousands of people in Ottawa alone that we would need to monitor and that would be impossible.”
Vern White, Ottawa Police Chief
* * *
Responding to my knock, a small, ethnic woman tentatively opens the door a crack on the seventh floor of the east-end high-rise where — two weeks after the “creepy guy with eyes cold as ice” was arrested in London, Ont. — anger boils among the 497 owners over the condo board and city police.
I identify myself across the security chain she has in place to prevent the door from opening wide. I say I want to talk to her about a man named Eldon Hardy who escaped from the Royal Ottawa Hospital last month 12 days before police caught him. In accented English, she says she has never heard of an Eldon Hardy.
I tell her that before the court sent him to the ROH in October as a 24/7 resident, his bail condition stemming from two sexual assault charges in September, Eldon Hardy — pedophile declared criminally insane, and with a long history of sexual assault convictions — owned and lived in her condo.
Shock and fear rising in her eyes, I quickly assure her it’s not my intention to reveal her name, that I’m only seeking answers to a puzzlement: Precisely when and how did she buy the two-bedroom condo from Hardy?
“A real estate agent,” she says hesitantly, “told the father of my children about it.”
So the agent knew the father of your children wanted to buy a condo?
When did you buy?
“Just before we moved in a week ago. All we knew is what the agent told the father of my children. That it had belonged to a person who was sick.”
I touch my temple. “He was.” The gap separating us narrows. I thank her for her time. The door closes. I hear her checking the lock. Twice.
* * *
Every time Eldon Hardy entered 2020 Jasmine Cres. where he’d lived alone since 2008, he’d see a sign on the locked lobby door:For Security Please Do Not Let Strangers Into The Building. No one in the building was stranger to the other residents than Hardy, evoking from them such adjectives as “creepy” and “weird” and “odd” and “scary.”
Until Ottawa police broke the news March 1st, along with a photograph of his face, that he’d violated his conditions of full-time residency at the ROH by fleeing on Feb. 26th (upon which the police were immediately notified), no one in the building of multiple families with children had a clue about his extensive criminal background; no knowledge of the sexual assault charges involving young males, one on Sept. 20th, the other Sept. 27th, one of the victims allegedly lured to his condo, the charge stating the “administering” by Hardy of “a stupefying or overpowering substance.”
“What I’d like to know,” says another middle-aged woman in the building who shares her condo with her daughter, and echoing the sentiments of many others, “is how the hell did Hardy get elected to the condo board, are there no checks done? Heads should roll.” Her daughter: “Why didn’t the police let us know a convicted pedophile was in our building so a notice could’ve been put up?”
Mother and daughter say they often saw Hardy, who seemed to be unemployed, in and around the building and they weren’t the only ones taken aback by him.
“He just seemed real weird, it stood out,” says the daughter. The mother. “He’d sit alone on the wall outside the building smoking cigarettes. He wanted nothing to do with anybody. If there was a group of us there, he’d never join in talking.”
The daughter: “He always had a stern look and just stared off.”
The mother: “He was a creepy guy with eyes cold as ice.”
The daughter: “People would say ‘Oh God, looks who’s coming.’”
The mother: “I’m afraid. I feel like a poisonous snake slithered into our building.”
What flaw in the system allowed Eldon Hardy, 64, pedophile, with a history of sexual assaults, to get himself elected as a director to the condo board? He put his name forth at the annual general meeting last Sept. 16th and was elected as a “member-at-large,” one of three vacancies filled. This only four days before Hardy’s sexual assault charge of Sept. 20th.
The Condominium Act Of Ontario stipulates that condo board members must (a) be 18 or over, (b) not be in bankruptcy, (c) be “mentally competent.”
Bill Saunders, board treasurer, admits the board didn’t undergo a due diligence on (b) and (c) with Hardy, or any directors for that matter, and it’s doubtful many, if any, boards do. “You get into areas of privacy.”
The Act does not demand criminal backgroud checks, nor does the Association Of Condominium Managers Of Ontario. The disclosures of a criminal background check on Hardy would have resulted in the board not accepting him, says Saunders. Legally, one has to ask a person’s permission to have a criminal background check, and there is a police fee, usually at the cost of those being checked ($42 with the Ottawa police). That wasn’t done either.
Toronto lawyer Mark Weisleder, noted author, speaker, and expert on real estate law. “There is very little in the way of qualifications for a condominium director. You basically need to be 18 and have a pulse.
“No requirement for educational, accounting, or business management training, yet you become responsible for managing millions of dollars in annual budgets and tendering out contracts.”
As to whether owners in the building should have been made aware, if possible, that a pedophile was among them, he says: “I believe this would constitute a material latent defect that would make the building ‘uninhabitable’ for buyers with young families and, as such, would have to be disclosed to future buyers or else the buyers could try to terminate the transaction if they were not told and found out.”
Because of the Hardy situation, Bill Saunders says the board will discuss mandating criminal background checks as a condition of directorship, the fee paid either by the recipients or the board.
“I don’t know why he (Hardy) even ran for the board. He never attended a monthly meeting. We never heard from him again.” Hardy, of course, was not heard from again because, unbeknownst to the board, he’d been in the ROH since October.
Posting public flyers warning of, and identifying, for purposes of safety, convicted pedophiles entering or re-entering a community is not unprecedented, says Ottawa police chief Vern White. “I know some communities have posted criminal convictions. They are publicly available.”
Asked why Ottawa police did not previously make the residents of 2020 Jasmine Cres. aware of Eldon Hardy and his extensive rap sheet, he says: “The challenge we have is that there are many people in the city who we feel are a risk, and yet are unable to provide information to others due to privacy, or, in fact, may not even know they are ‘floating’ in the community.
“One of the reasons we recommend a background criminal record check for many groups is they need to be known by people who put them in trust positions. If I was running a board I would demand such actions be taken to protect the board and its clients.”
The “creepy guy with eyes cold as ice” is back in Ottawa. He’s facing two new charges: (itals) Uttering threats (close itals) and (itals) Escape and being at large. (close itals) His return visit to the ROH will be Thursday March 25th at 9 a.m. for a hearing before the Ontario Review Board which, in its wisdom, will decide what “privileges” he should or should not have, and where.
Will it be the ROH again? Two days after Hardy was arrested, the president and CEO of the hospital, George Weber, received an e-mail from a woman who lives near the facility. She told him she has two young teen-age sons. She expressed her “serious concern” about “dangerous patients” and “an apparent lack of security in maintaining supervision and custody of those patients,” Hardy in particular who was “allowed to walk the hospital grounds.” She demanded answers.
Weber’s response to her, while sympathetic, was not one that would satisfy. For example, Weber writes, the hospital agreed to “monitor his whereabouts.” And yet Hardy had no problem escaping. And this: “The Royal exercises high levels of patient supervision in order to provide safety while respecting the patients’ rights and liberties as set out by the court.” Rights and liberties? Eldon Hardy?
He fled from the ROH once before in 2001. One can only hope Mr. Eldon Hardy, escapee, pedophile, who might experience freedom once again, isn’t thinking hat trick.
While convicted pedophiles can have time limited geographic conditions placed upon their release, Ontario Family Courts routinely issue "restraining orders" that are permanent, that is, they could last for the next 70 years and if in 50 years time, a father happened to take a wrong turn he could be arrested for being in any area his vindictive mentally ill violent ex wife sought a restraining order to cover.
The "worst of the worst" , the worst child abusers in Canada are not convicted pedophiles like Eldon Hardy but the "underbelly of the Ontario Judiciary" such as the "worst of the worst" the DisHonourable Denis Power, the Dishonourable Allan Sheffield. These are judges who routinely issue draconian orders against fathers, not because they are a danger to anyone but simply to "end the litigation" because an underbelly of the judiciary decided to flagrantly abuse his judicial power and bring the entire administration of justice, not to mention the judiciary into ill-repute.