The stepdad’s emails, in full

Here’s the full transcripts of the emails allegedly sent by a stepfather to his stepdaughter that influenced a provincial magistrate to hand the girl’s mother a restraining order earlier this year.

Winnipeg police laid a number of serious charges against the 48-year-old step dad yesterday – on the heels of charging him with sexually assaulting the girl.

You can read the whole story so far here.

April 15, 2009:

“You know that your mom will be mad at you skipping school and you keep asking me to do things for you, I don’t ask anything in return but this time I think that you owe me for doing this for you! If you agree to my terms I will continue to keep your secrets. My term is this you will agree to do what I ask of you with no questions. I will wait for your answer by e-mail if you like.”

May 3, 2009:

I hope you get a chance to read this e-mail, you have asked me a couple of days ago about wanting to get off from school at least once or twice a month you were telling me that it’s healthy, well I have thought about what you said and I think that I will do this for you because I would like to be able to spend some time with you for one thing. However this time I am asking something in return from you for this favor I want that we can spend some quality time together and I would like to see you the way your mom does. So if you agree to me asking a favor of you I really hope that you will email me back and let me know that you agree?

August 3, 2009:

would you like me to give you $300 tomorrow all you have to do is one simple thing and I will give you the money in cash all you have to do is come into the room let me know you got this email and say yes.

August 15, 2009:

I hope that when you read this that you will e-mail me back would you like me to give you $300.00 in cash if so write me back and let me know and we will work it out

January 3, 2010:

I was thinking about that you want a Ipod and a cell phone if you really want them we can talk about what you can do for them, you will have to let me know that you got this email and we can talk

January 6, 2010:

I hope you are on line right now and get this e-mail I would like you to come to the basement for a minute I have something to tell you

The basement is where the girl’s bedroom was at the time.

A few days after this email, the girl’s mom calls police to say her daughter had been sexually assaulted — allegedly by the stepdad — her husband — while the girl slept in their West End home.

From there it’s spiralled into allegations the man was secretly videotaping the girl and making child porn videos and pictures of her when she was about 11 or so till he got booted out of the house by police in January.

The wife and daughter are from South America. The woman married the man in 2005.

About a year after they wed and moved into the home, he began filming the girl, police allege.


What the public doesn’t hear — a project

Got 10 minutes? This could matter to you if you care about crime and the media and policing in Winnipeg.

While Menno criticizes the Winnipeg police for cancelling media briefings with reporters [and reporters for letting them do it unchecked] — and implies that there’s some political motivation behind it, I thought I’d weigh in on the experience with dealing with the Public Information Unit as a journalist.

First thing’s first: there’s limited staffing and limited resources in the unit. There are two active PIO/ police officers with Glocks and one information assistant who carries no weapon but her quick wit.

Each of these people are extremely pleasant to deal with and are typically speedy about responses to inquiries from reporters.

One of the officers is fairly new to the gig and deserves time to find her place in the scheme.

The most common mistake journalists make is assuming that the PIO knows about everything that the service is up to.

Point blank: they don’t.

My understanding is that the heads of the WPS’s individual units brief the PIO about [what they feel are] significant events and discussion happens about what the public is told, if anything.

The items chosen are vetted by the executive, and run past the legal department to identify potential issues with the release of information.

My sources tell me that the latter is particularly hard-nosed when it comes to what gets out in terms of official statements from the WPS.

Bearing this in mind, occasions do arise fairly often where a reporter finds out about an event that was never publicly disclosed by the PIO.

A request is sent for information, and depending on what it is, it appears an internal negotiation takes place about what to say by way of official response to the request.

This, in my experience, is where the breakdown between the media and the PIO hits a rut.

But I’ve come to learn that while it may be easy to say the PIO is being unreasonable or stingy with info, there’s reasons behind the madness.

Recent example: on July 15, a man is arrested for aggravated sexual assault in the downtown area near Central Park.  It’s a rare charge that denotes not only a horrible crime, but a horrible, life-altering incident of violence. In my mind, it’s second only to murders, simply because the victim is typically scarred for life by what happened.

Digging a little deeper, I find that the suspect in the case is what might generously be called a career criminal.

So, naturally curious, I send a request to the PIO for information, as the public was never notified that it happened.

I initially thought it related to a serious sexual assault they talked about in June, but as it turn out, was not.

Some information is nearly immediately sent my way, but it’s so scant:

“You have most of the details….. Winnipeg Police arrested 29 year old *** on July 13th for a sexual assault that occurred between June 23 – 24th to a 27 year old female in the 300 block of Quappelle.

*** was charged with aggravated sexual assault.

It’s so scant that it begs for a follow-up reply asking a few more questions, including why the public was never notified.

I get one later saying that the hope was to provide more info on Saturday … two days later.

Again, I asked why they didn’t release on such a serious crime, and wasn’t given a response.

On Sunday, I inquire again if anything more was coming.

“It’s still under investigation,” I’m told.

It seems weird to me. One of the most serious charges in the book laid against someone, and it’s still under investigation.

But at that point, when you hear those words ‘still under investigation,’ I’ve learned there’s no further response forthcoming.

Your best bet is to hit the street and start the digging process to find out what you want to know.

In this case, thank God for the court system is all I can say.

As there’s a publication ban on the case [the first thing the Crown asked for when it came before a judge], I can’t say much, but I can say this case could turn out to be a real bag of hurt for the cops, who are, my sources tell me, now suddenly very much interested in continuing the investigation.

But that’s beside the point, and I’ll fill in the blanks of that story when I can.

However,  what seemed like an unreasonable delay and response from the PIO in terms of my request turned out to be totally justifiable in terms of their having to act responsibly.

But if my estimation of how the public information system works is correct [and I believe it is], the unit commanders at the WPS have some explaining to do.

This week, I undertook a little project, which I will continue from here on in.

I call it the ‘what the public doesn’t hear about’ project.

And here it is. For the last five working days, M-F, I have documented the arrests made by the WPS that resulted in an adult, non-domestic violence-related suspect being locked up at the Remand Centre pending a bail hearing.

I have also documented what the PIO released on that day.

You’ll note some extreme differences in what’s going on ‘out there’, and what the public’s being told. Not to mention the amount of criminal activity officers are out on the streets cracking down on.

Here goes week one of the project. I’m open to your thoughts.

Monday media briefing held. Topics were: Fraud investigation, fire investigation and MVC involving stolen vehicle.

Of these items,  none requested the public’s assistance in obtaining information. There was the addition of one missing persons report which did ask for help locating the person, nothing unusual.

The fraud involved the discovery of money stolen from a hospital ATM over a period years [did nobody notice missing money from a bank machine for years? really?] The fire happened two days prior and simply said arson officers were investigating the cause. The MVC was more current, happening just about 12 hours prior to releasing info. It involved police property being damaged.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear:

  • Male, charged with a home invasion, robbery with a weapon and robbery
  • Male, charged with assault with a weapon, uttering threats
  • Male, charged with 75 gun-offences, including weapons trafficking between December 2009 and July 12
  • Male, charged with assault
  • Male and a co-accused male, each charged with 2x break, enter and theft
  • Male, charged with 8 gun offences and drug possession
  • Male, assault
  • Male, mischief
  • Male, robbery
  • Male, charged with 58 gun offences and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking x3
  • Male, uttering threats
  • Male, assault peace officer, assault with a weapon, careless use of a firearm, breach of a court-ordered weapons prohibition
  • Male, mischief, drug possession
  • Male, theft under $5,000
  • Male, theft under $5,000
  • Female, prostitution-related
  • Male, theft under $5,000

Note: These offences occurred between Friday morning and early Monday. I have omitted charges such as breaches to tally only new substantive offences.

I note that none of the weapons-related arrests appear to be related on paper.

So, over the weekend, that’s 18 unpublicized arrests – four of them involving guns or busts of alleged gun-runners. Admittedly, some on the surface appear minor, but if you’re getting locked up on a theft under $5,000, there’s likely more to it than meets the eye.


Tuesday –

Media briefing held, but nothing specific noted on the agenda other than a discussion of a Stats-Can report on police-reported crime in 2009. Report notes violent crime on the rise by 15 per cent in Winnipeg over 2008 levels. Also note: No person from the executive [chief, dep. chief, inspector or superintendent] appears before the media to discuss what’s been happening.

Of two other items released Tuesday — by emailed news release — one requested the public’s assistance for information [a robbery], suggesting that this was the motivation for bringing it to the media’s attention. The other involved a public warning about a lost Taser cartridge, I think the third time this has happened in recent memory.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket from Tuesday [people arrested and locked up] – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear:

  • Male, assault cause bodily harm, theft under $5,000
  • Male, assault cause bodily harm, 2x assault with a weapon
  • Female, public mischief
  • Female, assault peace officer
  • Female, assault with a weapon
  • Male, trespassing
  • Male, robbery with a weapon
  • Female, assault cause bodily harm, aggravated assault, uttering threats, possession of property obtained by crime, fail comply with youth sentence. [incidents occurred July 11, she wasn’t arrested until Monday.]
  • Female, fail conditional sentence order

Note: I have omitted charges such as breaches to tally only new substantive offences.


Wednesday –

Media briefing held, with two items on the agenda. An update to a past homicide file [New arrests in the Ricky Lathlin case from Gilbert Park] and the announcement of a new sex-trade enforcement program targeting child sex-trade workers.

Of these items,  none requested the public’s assistance.

On the adult criminal intake docket from Wednesday [people arrested and locked up] – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear:

  • Male, possession for purpose of trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime [he was pending on a possession charge already]
  • Male, housebreak enter to commit robbery or assault
  • Male, possession
  • Male, possess prop OBC under $5,000, possession purpose trafficking x4 and possession of weapon for dangerous purpose
  • Male, robbery, fail to attend court
  • Male, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence [co-conspirators not IDd] Offence date was Apr. 10, he was arrested Tuesday.
  • Female, robbery with violence and intent to steal
  • Female, aggravated assault, possess weapon for a dangerous purpose
  • Male, sexual assault [incident was Feb. 4]
  • Female, theft under $5,000
  • Male, uttering threats [but was locked up, indicating there’s more to this than meets the eye on paper]

Note: I have omitted charges such as breaches to tally only new substantive offences.

Later in the day, there was a police-involved shooting on Alexander – PIO called in on OT to address the media at 9:30 p.m.


Thursday –

Briefing Held – on the agenda: Internet luring arrest, update to the police shooting, a sexual assault and an assault with a weapon. The office was closing at 12:30 p.m, media were warned. No reason was given for the altered schedule.

That being said, the PIO was clearly returning calls to media about requests that had been made. I received one at 3:00 p.m. in response to a query made after 12:30 p.m.

On the adult criminal intake docket from Thursday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear:

[It appeared to be a slow day on Wednesday!]

  • Female, prostitution-related
  • Female, theft under $5,000
  • Male, break, enter and theft, fail to comply with youth sentence
  • Female, aggravated assault
  • Also, Gary Palmer, the independent GWL broker who bilked clients out of their cash was arrested for allegedly breaching his bail.

Note: I have omitted charges such as breaches [Palmer excepted] to tally only new substantive offences.


Friday –

Media briefing held. On the agenda: an update to the officer-involved shooting – suspect ID’d and picture released. Others: The bizarre arrest of an off-duty RCMP officer who found his way into a stranger’s home while drunken, and a notification about an arrest in connection to the sale of mouthwash or whatever non-potable gunk to drunks in the downtown.

On the adult criminal intake docket from Friday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear:

  • Male, Robbery, non-compliance with a conditional sentence
  • Female, prostitution-related, theft under $5,000
  • Male, theft under $5,000 x3
  • Male, theft under $5,000
  • Female, theft under $5,000 [pending on two other theft under charges — likely chronic shoplifter]
  • Male, possession for the purpose of trafficking x2, gun offences x4 and possession of property obtained by crime
  • Male, theft under
  • Male, robbery with a weapon x2, break and enter with intent to commit robbery or violence
  • Male, robbery with a weapon x2, break and enter with intent to commit robbery or violence [co-accused to above]
  • Male, robbery with a weapon, drug possession
  • Male, robbery with a weapon
  • Male, break, enter and theft, fail to comply with youth sentence
  • Male, mischief to religious property and failing curfew [see Sun’s story from today. Guy’s name is Jessie Garret Thompsett].


So, there you have week one of this ongoing project. Again, I ask for your suggestions on how this could be improved, bearing in mind I’m not flush with time to sift through all the paper.

I leave it to you to come to your own conclusions about what this means. Remember, this denotes but a fraction of the results police have demonstrated this week in terms of arrests made, crimes possibly solved.

Assuming, that is, that they have the right suspect.

What I take away from it is that while a number of serious incidents went unreported, I don’t believe the PIO is, at root, the reason for this.

I note that each day of this week, reporters got face time with the police, contrary to Menno’s assertion that cancellations of daily briefings are deliberate.

I also note that anyone wanting a taste of how the police and the media interacted prior to the adoption of the PIO system, head down to your library and look at some of the absolutely great police-related stories from the early 90s by Cory Castagna of the Sun, or Mike McIntyre from the Sun and later, the FP.

It used to be very different.

Revitalizing Downtown Winnipeg: The Next Steps Forward (via The View from Seven)

Interesting info here. Worth reading for some outside the bubble perspective.

Revitalizing Downtown Winnipeg: The Next Steps Forward It's a question that has stumped Winnipeggers for more than a generation: how to reverse the decline of downtown Winnipeg and, in particular, Portage Avenue. At one time, downtown Winnipeg was the place to be. Portage Avenue was one of Canada's great downtown boulevards, lined with office buildings, restaurants, retail stores and movie theatres. It was the kind of place where a person could spend the better part of an entire day without getting b … Read More

via The View from Seven

The BIZ boundaries

Yesterday, I questioned the Downtown BIZ’s contention that only 5.7 per cent of the city’s crime happened within their boundaries. Those boundaries are [map provided courtesy of the DT BIZ]

Downtown BIZ boundaries

North is Higgins Avenue to just east of Main Street

West is just west of Hargrave but also Spence Street just past Ellice Avenue.

South is the Assiniboine River along Assiniboine Avenue.

East is the Red River and includes The Forks.

They also kindly provided this statistical chart:

Crime stats from the DT BIZ

And as much as I can see that the problem has to do with outlying areas outsize the zones contributing to a skewed total number of crime incidents that the BIZ folk must pare down to reflect their zone of operations, I’m still not buying it.

Here’s what the BIZ had to say, and it’s totally fair and understandable.

“Downtown is in District 1, however, District 1 comprises a much larger area than the actual downtown boundaries.

(There is definitely a lot of crime in that district, but it’s not happening in the BIZ zone boundaries. Because we are only responsible for those boundaries, that’s what we report as crime in downtown.)

Because of this, we actually take the time to add up all of the 11 neighbourhoods that make up downtown each month and report the resulting crime stats up that way. That’s where the numbers came from in the Trends report and the ones we continue to talk about.”

The above chart says that between July 10, 09 to July 10, 2010, there was one homicide within the BIZ zone. And technically, that’s true.

Get just outside the reporting period, however, and one learns that there were three there in 2009: interactive homicide map

So far this year, however, there have been none.

I should add that technically, homicides are a poor indicator of crime and safety in an area given that the crimes usually don’t involve the public at large but are rather crimes of passion committed in the heat of the moment.

But, as the BIZ spokesperson said, it’s the perception that downtown is crime-ridden that’s an issue.

“One of the messages we are always trying to get across to people is that crime in downtown is more about perception than actual safety. Many people feel their personal safety is threatened when they are panhandled, whether they are in any danger or not.”

Well if that’s the case, a recent CBC story indicates that people’s negative perceptions of crime in the area are hardening, not becoming more positive.

The perception of safety in Winnipeg’s downtown during the day is on the decline, a public opinion survey commissioned by the Winnipeg Police Service suggests.      -edit-

“It seems that confidence in daytime safety downtown has eroded across all neighbourhoods,” wrote the unidentified police official who summarized the poll findings in a report.

In a poll done in 2008, more than half the 400 Winnipeggers surveyed agreed with this statement: “During the daytime, downtown Winnipeg is safe.”

The number dropped to about 40 per cent in the most recent poll, conducted by Dataprobe Research of Winnipeg.

Most troubling is that even people living downtown feel less safe during the day, the findings suggest.

In 2008, 85 per cent of the people surveyed agreed the downtown was safe. In the latest poll, the percentage dropped to 42 per cent, although only 4.75 per cent of those surveyed identified themselves as downtown residents.


This was from February, 2010. I remember writing it based on the work done by Sean Kavanagh.

Now, I sympathize with the BIZ folk. Their job is not an easy one. As I clearly stated yesterday, I admire them in a lot of ways. But when you’re confronted by pictures like this:

Portage and Garry Assault July 13, 2010 ---Shaun McLeod photo

You begin to question the stats.

I’m not saying they’re wrong or fudged. They just feel that way to a guy who’s spent the last few years of his life looking at crime and justice in the city fairly closely.

But then again, I’m in the reality business. So I like to think.

Dear Downtown BIZ:

As much as I admire many things you do — and I’m being sincere — I’d like to point out something.

You can’t use your own survey data to prove that everything’s rosy without being up front about it.

(Downtown BIZ trends PDF – read the fine print).

Sorry to be a stickler, but you don’t explain how the data was collected and from how many people.

5.7 per cent, eh? What?

The Winnipeg Police Cadet program has yet to see any street action [but it looks as if they have recruit class #1 in the can] … so phrasing the sentence as if it’s happened is misleading.

What are “smaller incidents” of crime, exactly?

Same as above for the cops moving their HQ to the Canada Post plant. Hasn’t happened yet, can’t tell what the impact will be. I’d guess it won’t do much as most police officers hate foot patrolling. At the current PSB, other than cops crossing the street to hit up Tim Hortons at the College, there wasn’t much of a presence, beat-cop wise.

Downtown crime — a comparison in pictures:

Crimestat map of occurrences from Jan 1 - July 10, 2010

This represents the number of robberies, sexual assaults, muggings, shootings, car thefts, homicides etc in the downtown and outlying areas for the last 6.5 months. [Lots of muggings, I note.]

But here’s the map of the entire city’s crime incidents in the same period:

Entire city, crime incidents Jan 1-July 10, 2010

As one can see, the North and West ends of the city are particularly crime-addled, which is nothing new. But this police CrimeStat map seems to show a slightly more than 5.7 per cent incidence of crime in the downtown and outlying areas.

Here’s last years, as a comparison:

[Actually, I can’t do this, because CrimeStat won’t let me go back to Jan. 1, 2009. Hmmmm.]

So, this is just the last 30 days:

”]So, how is it even possible that only 5.7 per cent of the city’s crime happened downtown?

I note the BIZ doesn’t attribute the claim nor give a date range when the stats were generated:

“Downtown crime represents only 5.7 % of all crimes that happen in our city”

(April 1, 2009 11:30 p.m. to April 2, 2009 2:30 a.m.)

Or, maybe they pulled it from one of their own surveys.

A side note:

Don’t know how proudly I’d be displaying this —

Most people know what a den of misery Zellers is. Hardly a downtown selling point. 80,000 sq. ft of hell. I’d rather shop at Giant Tiger.

UPDATE: According to a BIZ staffer (and fellow former The Projector editor), the Zellers revamp includes an overhaul of the famed basement grocery store. That’s good news.

She’s also sending along the stats that allowed the BIZ to arrive at the 5.7 per cent crime statistic. More discussion of that to come.

Random sex assaults on the rise

This should give citizens pause:

Winnipeg Police/ Crimestat

A 39 per cent jump in the number of sexual assaults in the city year over year, according to preliminary police statistics.

These do not include “known suspect” sexual assaults, which were removed from the publicly-available CrimeStat in January 2008 on the belief that the average citizen doesn’t need to know about domestic-violence related cases. Some disputed this move, claiming that in order to have a truly informed picture of the state of crime in the city, one did need to be able to note those cases.

“If you want to paint an accurate picture of a neighbourhood, you have to go behind closed doors — the most dangerous place to be in terms of crime victimization is in the home,” University of Winnipeg criminologist Steven Kohm told me [and the readers of the Winnipeg Free Press on Oct. 30, 2008.]

“Kohm said reporting everything on CrimeStat could contribute to the re- victimization of people through a loss of privacy. But by not doing so, police run the risk of lessening the severity of sex assaults between intimates or family members. Ultimately, what gets reported by police through CrimeStat speaks to the heart of what the crime-tracking website’s real function is, he said.

“What I find most upsetting about this is the whole issue about ‘what is CrimeStat?’ What is it supposed to mean to the average citizen of Winnipeg… how is it supposed to make me safer?”

What’s interesting to note is that since Jan. 1, 2010, the number of “known offender” sexual assaults reported to police [the number is likely much, much higher] is 117. In the same period in 2009, there were 120 reported across all city neighbourhoods, so there’s parity, if not a skint decline.

[True to their word, however, the WPS did find a way to track “known offender” sex assaults separately from CrimeStat. Kudos].

But the current data shows it’s clear the risk of being randomly sexually assaulted is on the rise. Over the last few months, my newsroom colleagues and I have turned to each other more than once to say — ‘Bizarre. Another sex assault.’

For those wanting a trip to see how many stories have been done, check here.

Truth and Rec

A commenter on the CBC Manitoba website regarding the now-ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission kind of gets to the heart of the matter:

“… My father went to residential school where he was beaten for speaking his language and raped numerous times. Children died because they were given shabby clothing, insufficient food and regular physical abuse. Once boys got big enough (9 years old) they were sent into the fields to grow food that they we’re allowed to eat. My father was absent most my life because he was dealing with these demons. I would give up ever “special right” my status card gives me for a childhood with my father.”

These things happened. There can be no disputing this.

I’ve written a lot about youth crime and youth justice issues over the past few years. I can tell you honestly that one of the things that sits with me is how in 99 per cent of the youth-related criminal court cases I’ve covered, there are no parents to be found.

It’s no great secret that the majority of young offenders charged with serious crimes in Manitoba are aboriginal kids.

Yes, sometimes their grandmothers show up for hearings; occasionally it’s an aunt.

Most often, however, its a social worker. A state-appointed guardian who probably has 100 other ‘files’ to juggle.

It’s a shame – and you have to wonder how much the ‘generational’ nature of what happened residential schools is at play here.

I think it’s probably a lot.

People who know me know I’m not one to subscribe to the ‘hug a thug’ mentality.

But, in a young criminal’s mind – assuming they have reasonable grasp of their functions and aren’t addled with ADD or FAS [many of them are] – can they be expected to act in a way that contrasts with your psychological upbringing and makeup?

Just as I smoke cigarettes habitually – a learned, negative, behaviour – the vast majority of us are really creatures of habit.

I believe that many of the young car thieves, rapists, thugs and murderers would love a re-do of a childhood that appears to have been, from where I sit, anyways, empty of the true kind of care and attention most ‘normal’ people in Canada had the benefit of.