When convicted online predator Jeffrey Goddard was arrested Aug. 10 for allegedly breaching his probation, it was the first time his neighbours realized he was living on their street.
They were also shocked to discover that not only was another high-profile sexual offender – Donald Michel Bakker – living in their neighbourhood, but he was in the same residence as Goddard.
The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) previously issued public notices following the release of Goddard from prison in February and when Bakker (pictured below) moved to the community early this month. Both had served their full sentences.
But neighbours on the small street in east Abbotsford said police did not contact them directly. Instead, the APD issued a map showing the general area in which Bakker would be residing.
Two neighbours are questioning why a pair of convicted child sex offenders can live in a residential area, in the same home, and why police didn’t let them know directly.
“How are we supposed to protect ourselves? ... It’s rather unsettling. You don’t know who’s in your neighbourhood,” said one woman, who did not want her name used.
A male neighbour, who also did not want to be identified, said he was “in disbelief” when he saw a swarm of officers arrest Goddard, who was recognizable due to previous publicity.
The man was even more shocked when he saw Bakker come out of the home to watch the arrest.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald confirmed the two men were residing in the same home and, because they had served their full sentences, there were no restrictions on where they could live, other than those set out by their court-ordered conditions – for example, not living within a certain distance from a school.
MacDonald said the location was not in breach of the men’s conditions.
He said the home falls into the category of “rental accommodations” that could be accessed by any individual in the community.
This differs from a halfway house, in which an offender who has not completed his full sentence has been released from prison on parole. The facility is staffed and supervised by professionals, who help the offender adjust to life outside of prison.
MacDonald said Bakker and Goddard likely would have heard about rental vacancies through sources in the criminal justice system that would know of landlords who are agreeable to having convicted offenders living in their homes.
“I don’t know that there is anything you can to to prevent people like that from renting,” he said.
MacDonald said police make frequent visits to homes such as this to ensure that offenders are abiding by their conditions. If not, they can be arrested for breach, as was the situation with Goddard.
He said police will not reveal the exact address of the home, due to privacy laws and concerns about vigilante violence.
Meanwhile, the two neighbours said they are concerned about the safety of children in the neighbourhood and other impacts.
“I’m sure our properties are devalued. It’s no longer a family neighbourhood when you have sex offenders living there,” said the man.
Jeffrey Goddard, 22, was let out of prison in February on statutory release after having served two-thirds of a 20-month sentence for charges related to his posing online as various personas – including a police officer, a teenage girl and a TV producer – to lure eight youths, ages 12 to 16.
He was re-arrested on Aug. 10 for four counts of breaching his probation after allegedly again posing online – this time as “Ryan Martin Stewart,” the supervisor of a landscaping company. He remains in custody.
Donald Michel Bakker, 46, served a 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting seven girls in Cambodia between the ages of seven and 14, as well as Vancouver sex-trade workers. Bakker was released from prison in May and turned himself in to Penticton RCMP when he couldn’t find a place to live, which was a violation of his release conditions.
He moved to Abbotsford at the beginning of this month. Police revealed that he would be living in an area bordered by George Ferguson Way, Old Yale Road, Sumas Way/Highway 11, and Gladys Avenue.