Our Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall was live on Global News with Jill Krop to discuss the case of Raymond Caissie, a convicted high-risk sexual assault offender who was released from prison last year after serving 22 years and has now been charged with second-degree murder of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch.
The following is a rush transcription of the interview:
Jill Krop: Echoing the thoughts of whole bunches of people not just politicians, but average British Columbians who really feel like “You know what we have enough of criminals are having rights, we have enough of people who have been labelled as a high risk to re- offend they were released on the street to prone innocent. What I find interesting is almost everybody I speak to convinced Raymond Caissie on this in fact NDP just described it there they are saying high degree probability of re-offending that is what taking place. We are all jumping to conclusion. I wanna point out he is innocent in our system, innocent until proven guilty. Because other than policed arrested him and having him charged with second degree murder, we have no proof this is the guy who was there. He certainly fits to the bill of a man who would do this to 17 years old girl. Joining us now Angela Marie MacDougall, Battered Women’s Support Services’ Executive Director. Angela Marie, thanks for your time and nice to see you again.
Angela Marie MacDougall: Hi Jill, great to see you.
Jill Krop: This is such a difficult thing and my heart breaks for this family. I cannot even imagine what this teenage girl was going through in the last moments of her life. By all counts in the horrific end to her life. What I found fascinating is our producer Aidan spoke with you. You had a meeting yesterday on high-risk offenders. You know a lot about all these guys, don’t you?
AMM: Well Jill, you know we have been working really hard with counterparts here in Vancouver and across the province of British Columbia to really get to the heart of this matter of release of high risk violent offenders who seek to do physical and sexual violence to girls and women within our communities.
We are very attuned to this, very concerned. We do get the alerts and I paid a lot attention to this men when they are released. Make note of them. Pay attention to them and follow up with law enforcement regardless of the jurisdiction to see how they are doing. Because we understand very well these guys the risk to re-offend has been highlighted, it has been crystal clear this really matter. We really don’t want any more our system is gambling with the lives of girls and women.
JK: You know that is the thing and I really should oppose this to the Mayor of Surrey. You know I will get you some cash that there is a high risk sex offender who is living Surrey today that police are watching.
AMM: I mean that is the thing right. If we need to understand this misogyny, I get it that often we are not talking about children and we want also understand these men are doing violence against girls and women. They are at heart of it. There is hatred of girls and women that is inspiring sexual and physical violence. And so, you know, we think as part of the lack of attention really goes to the heart of a matter in terms of how much do we really care about the lives of girls and women and how much we really care ending violence against girls and women. Misogynist violence.
JK: And you know, it totally ties in coincidentally actress Emma Watson and the hashtag #HeForShe campaign. This is a huge societal issue and not just in our society, it is literally around the world. Men are at the power and women don’t. We like to think we really make stripes here in our country, in our part of the world. But, clearly when this is going on we still have issues. Let’s talk about specifics. If we agree this takes place, it will take long time to alter or fix if that is ever possible. What we can do in the meantime with these men?
AMM: Ok, what we’ve been focusing on really drilling down with law enforcement, with Correction Canada to really understand who are the men?, what are the conditions under which they are released?, and where are they within our community. And then we wanna be following up on their behaviour during the time of their release. Now, with a portion of the men we are talking who have been unapologetic, they haven’t attended treatment programs during their service, they don’t care about they’ve done the crime. Every assessments tell us that they will re-offend. The question we need to ask ourselves really plainly and clearly is, why under any conditions we want these individuals release in our communities knowing that they will re-offend.
JK: We’ve gone to point where we will not use dogs if they bite to people. So where do we go from there with human? What are we doing with these people when we know they gonna come back out and hurt somebody or kill somebody.
AMM: Understanding that sexual violence is endemic and epidemic and there is a woman walking now in US carrying her mattress around the campus because she is drawing attention to the rape by someone she knows. Sexual violence is everywhere. This particular type of sexual violence that we are dealing with is a death girl or women. Or in the case of this man, he has done horrific violence. We have to really ask ourselves, really really ask ourselves what are we trying to achieve in our society when there are unwilling to get heart of the matter.
It is not enough for us to think this as only criminal law related issue. This is at the heart of everything about violence against girls and women. This is a further extension of what we see everyday in our organization at Battered Women’s Support Services.
JK: You knew about Raymond Caissie.
JK: What did you know about him?
AMM: Well, you know paying attention to him when he was released… Actually I remember the original crime back in 1991 and of course it is horrific hearing about that and now hearing about his release. Knew he failed to contact with his probation officer in November 2013.
JK: That to me… Sorry I don’t want to interrupt you. That to me is the key right there. He failed to contact probation officer. For me as the first strike “You are done. Back in and you are staying there.” You know I gotta take commercial break, we gonna do that when we come back to our conversation with Angela Marie MacDougall. Stay with us. We will be right back.
*** second part of the interview***
JK: You knew where he wanted to live when he was released from jail. Where was that?
AMM: My understanding is that when they are released, they get to decide where they gonna live. My understanding is that he wanted to live in Vancouver. My understanding is that when they decide where to live, systems there are in place in Municipality, they contact him that is probation, law enforcement. And so, my understanding is that he heard very clearly from Vancouver Police Department that they would be monitoring him. And my understanding is that he chosen not to live in Vancouver and picked another community, now we understand it is Surrey.
JK: Really you know, I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but do you think scrutiny is more intense in Vancouver than in other communities?
AMM: I think, there is a big difference between Municipal Police and RCMP, and there is some very real jurisdictional issues. But also we understand that Surrey is a huge community, lots of people, covers very wide terrain monitoring. The differences between Municipal Police and RCMP are a factor I think. And I think that jurisdiction, the landscape is also a factor. I don’t have enough information about the RCMP High Risk Offenders Unit. I wanna know more about it. It’s something that matters to me. The High Risk Offenders Unit plays key role in monitoring these guys when they are released. Now, understanding this particular men who finished his sentence so he had been on a long leash he didn’t have much monitoring at this point. Because again we come into sort of this reality around civil liberties and what happens after you complete your sentence regardless you have been rehabilitated.
JK: When you look at warning that was put out for this man 15 months ago, you could have predicted that would be on charges at some point and not in distance future. And that is exactly what is happening. I am not saying he’s guilty, but he has charged for a second degree murder of a beautiful 17 years old girl. And I think for everybody it is heart breaking and we gotta a fix this. And I like to see people are starting saying “I am going to do this and it starts now.”
AMM: And this has to be a catalyst to end this. As you mentioned a beautiful young woman and our hearts break for her family and break for her, for her terror that she had to gone through during the last moments of her life. My heart is just broken thinking about the levels of violence and fear. And this has to be a catalyst for change. Her death has to be catalyst for change. It has to be a beginning of new day. We can no longer gamble with the lives of girls and women.
JK: You are right. Angela Marie MacDougall thank you for your time.
If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?