Perth-Wellington MP introduces bill to protect against sexual exploitation of people with disabilities

Perth-Wellington MP John Nater has introduced a private member's bill he says is designed to better protect Canadians with disabilities from sexual exploitation.

Perth-Wellington MP John Nater introduced the first bill in the temporary, West-Block House of Commons earlier this week. Photo by Bernard Thibodeau/House of Commons Photographic Services

Share Adjust Comment Print

In response to what was viewed by many at the time as the lenient sentencing of Chad Bogle, a former Perth County children’s clown who pleaded guilty to obtaining sexual services from a 25-year-old disabled woman last year, Perth-Wellington MP John Nater introduced a private member’s bill to the House of Commons this week to better protect Canadians with disabilities from sexual exploitation.

Last February, superior court justice Ian Leach sentenced Bogle to a fine of $2,000 and two years’ probation, eliciting outrage from many members of the Stratford and area community, including Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, who wrote on Twitter that the sentence was “ridiculous.”

“This was very much inspired by the people of Stratford and the surrounding areas who expressed a great deal of concern last year when a children’s entertainer, who also had employment (working) with people with disabilities, was convicted of a crime, pleaded guilty, but then received no jail time and a monetary fine and probation instead,” Nater said.

“So there was a significant amount of public discussion at the time, a lot of emails, phone calls, and visits to my office expressing concerns about this. There was a lot of anger at the time — a lot of anger addressed towards the judicial system — so for the past year I’ve been working on a correction to this, and a correction to laws that would keep this from happening again.”

Bill C-424, or An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual exploitation), would require the courts to consider a victim’s mental or physical disability as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing those found guilty of obtaining sexual services for consideration or obtaining sexual services for consideration for a person younger than 18 under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The bill also aligns the sentencing guidelines with those for someone convicted of obtaining sexual services from person under 18.

“Currently, there is no minimum (sentence), so if it was an indictable offense the current maximum is five years (in prison). Now we’re saying the maximum could be up to 14 years… We’re saying that the minimum should be one year,” Nater said.

He added that his bill would also reverse a change proposed by the government in Bill C-75 — An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Now before the senate, Nater said the government bill would reduce the current maximum sentence for sexual exploitation of a person with a disability by way of summary conviction from 18 months in prison to 6 months.

“We need to send a strong message that it is not right to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our society,” Nater said. “Whether that’s a person living with a disability, whether that’s a young person, or whether that’s a senior, we need to send a strong message that these crimes against these vulnerable groups are wrong.

“… And second, part of criminal justice system looks to reform, looks to rehabilitate. We need to ensure that when these crimes are committed, the appropriate sentence is linked to that, that they’re in the appropriate facilities, and that they receive that rehabilitation… And there has to be a strong deterrent.”

Nater’s private member’s bill was the first bill to be introduced in the temporary House of Commons, located in the West Block building while the regular chamber in the Centre Block is closed for renovations. The bill was also the first piece of legislation in more than 100 years to be introduced outside of the Centre Block of Parliament.