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Mayor urges community to keep watchful eye on sex offender

BAKKER - submitted
BAKKER
— image credit: submitted

A dangerous sexual predator considered a high risk to reoffend will be settling in Abbotsford and there's not much the city can do to stop it.

Don Michael Bakker, 46, was the first Canadian to be convicted in Canada for "sex tourism," exploiting and sexually assaulting underage girls in Cambodia. When he was released from prison in late May after serving out his full term, the Penticton RCMP issued a public warning.

Mayor Bruce Banman said as much as people might hate it, released convicts have every right to seek a community in which to live.

"My view is that I wish sex offenders of any kind were not welcome in our city but that's not the society we live in," he said.

Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald said the department only found out "in the eleventh hour" that Abbotsford might be a destination for Bakker.

He had heard through police intelligence that he was destined for another community so it took him by surprise.

"Obviously aware of his background, we felt it was necessary — it's an extraordinary step and we've only done it a few times — to equip the citizens of Abbotsford with all of the information that was available," he said.

The police have acted quickly to make citizens aware of his relocation and post a photo so he's recognizable.

MacDonald said the community mobilized against the arrival of sex offender James Douglas Campbell to east Abbotsford in May 2011. He quickly breached his parole orders and was re-arrested a week later.

"The flip side of that is we did a notification on Jeffrey Goddard (in February) and there wasn't a lot of public outcry, mostly because Jeffrey Goddard was an Abbotsford guy," he said.

However, that public notification worked because he was later reported seen in a hot tub with children at a local recreation centre by a member of the public, leading to his re-arrest.

Banman said he has every confidence the major crimes unit will be watching Bakker closely to protect the community, but encouraged people to take a hard look at the photograph and memorize his face.

"Let's do what we can to keep the pressure on and if he has truly reformed he won't have a problem with that and he'll understand it," he said.

And if he hasn't changed he'll likely leave Abbotsford because criminals don't like to be under close scrutiny, he added.

Bakker has a strict curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., is not to be in contact with any sex-trade workers or persons under 18; not posses a computer, pornography or any device with access to the Internet; not visit areas where children are known to congregate; not own a camera or other recording device; or any device that could be used as a restraint.

Bakker has been in custody since July 13 after turning himself in to Penticton RCMP when he couldn't find a place to live, which was a violation of his probation order.

In 2005 Bakker pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven girls in Cambodia between the ages of seven and 14, as well as Vancouver sex-trade workers. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with 3½ years of credit for time served awaiting trial. He was released after the full term was served on May 31.

 

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