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Spec: Clairmont: Rapist back behind bars — for now


Hamilton Spectator Article by  Susan Clairmont ,

August 5, 2014

It is a relief that what has sent predator Keith Constantin back to jail is not another rape or a murder as he predicted, but rather a paltry curfew breach.

But now what?

The convicted rapist has said he will rape again and would like to kill someone, according to Parole Board of Canada records from as recently as April.

Yet he was sent back into the world on July 23. Nine days later he was arrested again, and is set to have a bail hearing Wednesday.

And though the Crown will almost certainly oppose bail, the grim reality is that Constantin served his previous sentence in full (for raping a woman while she was recovering from a seizure), has not committed another serious offence and has not been designated a dangerous or long-term offender.

Constantin, 35, was rearrested Friday night after he breached the curfew he agreed to abide by when he voluntarily entered into a peace bond with Hamilton police.

He turned himself in to the East End station and appeared in court by video Saturday morning.

He looked different than he does in the mug shot police distributed in the name of public safety. He is clean shaven now, having doffed the moustache and scruffy beard.

He wore a blue T-shirt and stood quietly with his hands behind his back while the assistant Crown attorney explained to the justice of the peace that she was not in a position to run a bail hearing right away.

She said Constantin has “been designated as a high risk offender” with a criminal record so long that she needed time to read through the “voluminous material.”

News of Constantin’s arrest spread quickly via social media and an ad hoc network of concerned citizens that had linked to councillors Brenda Johnson and Maria Pearson, whose wards include the Fruitland Road area where police said Constantin was staying.

Together the councillors had distributed 4,000 flyers featuring Constantin’s photo. Some neighbourhoods — particularly Margaret Avenue, where he was rumoured to be living — were plastered with the posters.

“The community response was incredible,” says Johnson. “A big shout-out to the community.”

A rally organized to protest Constantin’s presence in Hamilton had been scheduled for noon on Saturday but was cancelled at the last minute when police announced the arrest.

Johnson says she received an email from Chief Glenn De Caire telling her Constantin was back in custody, but had to keep quiet until the official announcement was made.

Throughout the ordeal, she says, police have been one step ahead of the public.

“They were on top of this individual,” she says. “They were monitoring this person. I would call them and say there’s been a sighting of him at a McDonald’s and they’d tell me they were looking at him right now.”

On July 25, De Caire took the rare step of issuing a warning that Constantin, convicted of raping two women, sexually assaulting a 7-year-old boy and robbing two variety stores, had been released from prison and was back in Hamilton.

The parole board has said Constantin is likely to seriously harm or even kill someone and for that reason they kept him in prison for as long as the law would allow.

At his last sentencing hearing a Hamilton assistant Crown attorney warned that if he reoffended, the Crown would seek a dangerous offender designation which would lock him up indefinitely.

Though the immediate danger is over, Johnson says she will work to ensure her community — and others — are safe from high risk offenders like Constantin in the long run.

“I’ve got this energy now,” she says. “Everybody’s relieved, but people are already worried about the outcome. It’s not a matter of pushing him on to be somebody else’s problem.”

She has requested a meeting with federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay to discuss what government and communities can do to protect the public from high risk offenders.

“There are other Constantins out there,” she says. “We’re not as insulated as we think.”

Susan Clairmont’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator.

905-526-3539 | @susanclairmont

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