Restrictions lifted on man convicted of sex crimes abroad

Orville Mader, convicted of sex crimes against young boys in Asia, tries to block photographers from taking his picture after making an appearance in provincial court in Abbortsford, B.C. Monday, December 3, 2007. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jonathan Hayward)

Orville Mader, convicted of sex crimes against young boys in Asia, tries to block photographers from taking his picture after making an appearance in provincial court in Abbortsford, B.C. Monday, December 3, 2007. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jonathan Hayward)

VANCOUVER — A man convicted in absentia of sex crimes against children in Cambodia has been allowed unrestricted freedom in Canada, even though the Crown expressed concerns when he was arrested that he was a danger to children.

While a judge granted a restraining order against Orville Mader meant to protect children back in 2007, that order has been allowed to lapse.

Now, it's unclear whether the man who has not been charged with offences is Canada will be free to travel to other countries.

Mader faces a 15-year jail term in Cambodia for sex crimes against children and was accused of sex crimes against a 13-year-old boy in Thailand, but travelled back to Canada shortly after the charges were laid.

When he arrived in Vancouver in late 2007 carrying nothing but his laptop computer, he was arrested and held.

At the time, the Crown said investigators were working on sex-tourism charges against Mader. In the meantime a judge granted an order under Section 810.1 of the Criminal Code when prosecutor Wendy van Tongeren Harvey said there were concerns he was a danger to children.

"He's attracted to not only boys, but young boys. We're seeking conditions where children are safe," she told the provincial court judge in 2007.

Details of the court proceedings that day were protected by a publication ban that has now expired.

Among his many restrictions, Mader was ordered to stay away from children and anywhere they might congregate, to stay off the Internet, to give up his passport and to report on a regular basis to the authorities near where he was staying in Surrey, B.C.

While the order was renewed against him annually in 2008 and 2009, it wasn't renewed in November 2010.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Ed Boettcher said police did a lot of work on the Mader file both in Canada and internationally.

"There came a time in 2009 where investigators met with Crown and said this is what we've compiled, Crown looked at it and said it doesn't meet the standards of Canadian evidence."

He said satisfying the evidence threshold would have taken a massive effort.

Neil MacKenzie, spokesman with the B.C. Crown prosecutors office, said his office wasn't involved in the decision not to reapply for the 810 restrictions for Mader.

He said Mader fully complied and co-operated with Corrections B.C. while under the peace bond restrictions.

"In view of the circumstances of his time under supervision, Corrections did not believe there was an adequate basis to seek renewal of the peace bond. That would have been a decision made by Corrections."

Van Tongeren Harvey told the judge during the November 2007 hearing that Mader detailed his tastes for young boys during email conversations found on his computer.

"He described boys coming into his room, his sexual preferences," she told the court. "He had eight boys over 11 days ... including one tiny 11-year-old boy he called a 'sweetie pie."'

No pictures were found but van Tongeren Harvey said several emails found in Mader's computer from a hotmail account detail his sexual encounters with boys in Asia.

None of the allegations have been proven in a Canadian court.

Van Tongeren Harvey told the court Mader escaped to Vietnam the day after the accusation in Thailand was made.

Mader's lawyer at the time, Brian Coleman, said his client denies the allegations involving the boy and that he fled from Thailand.

Coleman also noted that Mader was originally acquitted in Cambodia of the debauchery charge and had stayed to face the accusation, but a second trial resulted in a conviction even though Mader wasn't there to defend himself.

He said there was no justice involved in the debauchery conviction.

"Cambodia, the last time I checked, isn't known as a bastion of democracy."

Brian McConaghy, of the Cambodian aide organization Ratanak International, was disappointed to hear Mader wouldn't be charged, saying it simply shores up Canada's reputation on the issue.

"I think (Canada) is perceived as being fairly weak on this," said McConaghy, who spent decades with the RCMP before founding Ratanak.

"Canadian police do not have the resources, these are international files that by definition are expensive and they're complex."

McConaghy agreed Cambodia's justice system is corrupt, but said that usually falls in the offender's favour if they can purchase their way out of a police investigation or charges.

Boettcher said officers have watched Mader in B.C.'s Lower Mainland while he was under restrictions.

"There had been checks done. There was no indication of non-compliance."

Boettcher said Mader last checked in with officials in Surrey as required at the end of his term in late 2010, but he's not sure if Mader still lives in the area.

He couldn't say if Mader's passport was returned and an official with Passport Canada could not give any information in connection to Mader because of privacy concerns.

Under its regulations, Passport Canada is allowed to revoke travel documents if the person has been charged with an indictable offence in Canada or a similar offence abroad.

Mader is presumed innocent because no charges will be laid here in Canada, and McConaghy said there would be no reason his passport wouldn't be returned.

"Which I believe is in error ...," he said.

Canada's sex-tourism law was enacted in 1997, but has been rarely used since then and has just a few convictions to its credit.

Mader was arrested not long after a world-wide manhunt was launched for Christopher Neil, a former resident of Maple Ridge, B.C.

Neil was picked up in Thailand on charges of sexually assaulting children and posting the acts on the Internet while disguising his face with a digital swirl.

Neil pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy and a Thai court sentenced him to three years and three months in prison.

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