Robert Noyes, one of Canada's most notorious pedophiles and a designated dangerous offender, has been granted full parole.
The National Parole Board set Mr. Noyes free yesterday without revealing where he will live.
"The board is satisfied that the location of this residence does not present an undue risk to children. Contact has now been established with the local police who, aware of your presence, will be conducting ongoing contact with you," the National Parole Board stated in a decision released from a regional office in Kingston.
Mr. Noyes was a teacher in Ashcroft, B.C., when he was convicted in 1986 of sexual and indecent assault involving 19 victims, aged 6 to 15. He was designated a dangerous offender shortly afterward.
Mr. Noyes has admitted to abusing more than 60 children.
"Full parole? I'm surprised," Linda Halliday-Sumner, author of numerous reports on pedophiles, said when informed of the release.
"Pedophilia is one of the most difficult areas to treat. I never use the word cured when describing multiple offenders," she said.
In designating Mr. Noyes a dangerous offender, the Supreme Court of B.C. concluded it was likely he would not be able to control his sexual impulses in the future, and that failure to do so "will cause injury, pain or other evil to other persons."
The dangerous-offender designation means the person has been convicted of causing serious personal injury, is a threat to others, and is unable to control the impulses that led to the crime.
Dangerous offenders can be kept in prison indefinitely with periodic reviews, and it is more difficult for them to get parole.
Asked whether she considered Mr. Noyes to still be a risk to children, despite the assessment of the National Parole Board, Mrs. Halliday-Sumner said: "Yes. There is no cure for this. And the recidivism rate is extremely high."
She said even Mr. Noyes would admit that.
"In talking to Mr. Noyes over a 12-year period, he was adamant he would always be a risk to children," said Mrs. Halliday-Sumner, who has interviewed thousands of sexual offenders in Canadian jails.
Mr. Noyes became eligible for parole in 1988, but was repeatedly denied release. Two years ago, he was granted day parole after being allowed out of jail on hundreds of escorted and unescorted temporary releases.
The National Parole Board decision noted that his performance during those releases had been good; that he has been involved in treatment programs; and that he has been in a committed marriage for several years.
He was married, with children, at the time of his arrest; he later divorced and in 1995 married a volunteer prison worker he met while on day parole.
"Your spouse is fully aware of your past and most concerned that you succeed," the decision states. "She has made it known that she would make known to the authorities any lapses on your part."
Under the conditions of release, Mr. Noyes has to take relapse-prevention treatment for sex offenders; he must not visit pornographic Web sites or chat sites on the Internet, and must make his computer hard-drive available for inspection by authorities; he cannot have contact with anyone under 18 unless supervised by an adult; he must not work with minors.
Mr. Noyes has a job with the John Howard Society, helping offenders find housing when they leave jail.
Mrs. Halliday-Sumner said the key aspect of Mr. Noyes's release is the set of conditions imposed on him by the National Parole Board.
"A dangerous offender can be let out on parole, but people should understand that when there is an indeterminate sentence, parole lasts for the rest of their lives.
"They can pull him [in]at any time. And they can change the conditions if they have grounds. He is not going to be walking free without [parole officials]knowing where he is."
But Mrs. Halliday-Sumner said she is disturbed that the community he is living in hasn't been notified.
"If a community is prepared for a sex offender coming to live there, it is more likely that the children will be," she said. "Parents and the sex offender's co-workers and friends will know what to watch for. If [the offender]begins to fall into old patterns, they will probably notice first and will be able to notify the police."
Mrs. Halliday-Sumner said a study of more than 3,000 sex offenders, including pedophiles, in Canada found that about one-third had a 67-per-cent risk of being back in jail within two years.
However, she said that despite the high recidivism rate, it is unrealistic to suggest that sex offenders be kept in jail indefinitely.
"I don't say lock them away forever, but they need to be monitored and controlled for the rest of their lives," she said.
The federal Liberal government's long-promised sex-offender registry would not apply to Mr. Noyes, because, to avoid challenges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it would list only those convicted after it is proclaimed law. Ontario's registry, currently the only one in the country, also is not retroactive.
Mr. Noyes assaulted his child victims between 1970 and 1985 in attacks that included fondling, fellatio and masturbation. He moved from one school district to the next when suspicions were raised about his activities.
The National Parole Board noted that he committed hundreds of assaults, although he was charged with only 19.
"Clearly you were not charged with all incidents of inappropriate sexual behaviour," the board states in reviewing his case. ". . . It was through your position as an educator/coach/counsellor that you gained access to these children; it was through their trust placed in your position that you 'groomed' them to submit to your wishes. Your behaviour was predatory and callous with respect to the emotional trauma suffered by the victims."
When Mr. Noyes applied for day parole in 2000, the B.C. government objected, saying he still posed a risk to the community.