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Parents questioning lack of warning after children propositioned by homeless man

COURTENAY, B.C- Two parents in the Comox Valley are concerned after no notice was given by authorities after an incident in the Crown Isle area.

According to the parents, two teenaged boys were at the dollar store in the Crown Isle area around lunchtime on Monday. While they were outside the business, an older homeless man with a hunched back approached them, striking up a conversation.

During the conversation, the man offered both boys $10 as payment for sex.  The students left the area with friends and reported what had happened to their school principal, who in turn contacted the local RCMP detachment.

The police, who had come into contact with the man earlier in the day at the North Island College campus, went to the school to speak with the students about what had happened. The man was later picked up, and questioned by police.

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No charges were laid, and the man was later released by police, according to the parents.

However, both were concerned about a lack of notification from the authorities about the incident. The mother of one of the boys, who only gave her first name, said her son was worried about other children coming into contact with the man.

“He’s worried about other kids,” said Trena.

“He doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. When somebody approaches him, his concern was, y’know, what if it was a kid waiting outside of the store for their mom? A 7, 8, 9, 10-year-old boy, doesn’t necessarily know what to do in that situation.”

Trena said she had been trying to reach the detachment since the incident, and had yet to hear back from officers. She wanted to know why police hadn’t issued any warning or notification to the community.

“There is a homeless man offering children money for sex, specifically boys, and nobody has been informed,” said Trena.

“We live in an area that’s full of parks where homeless people tend to camp out in the summer. These same parks are the parks that kids walk through on their way to and from school. They play with their friends, they go to the skate park, and this man is out there, and the police and the school don’t feel he is a threat to other children, and that bothers me.”

According to the father of the other student, who didn’t want his name used, an officer he spoke with at the local detachment compared the homeless man to “Mr.Magoo”, an elderly cartoon character, while saying that children could easily get away from him.

The father also would have preferred to see an announcement from the RCMP or the school district.

“You don’t get away with doing that,” said the father.

“Even if it was a mistake, and he didn’t have any intentions, people should know that you’re out there, at least.”

An email sent to Trena from Paul Berry, the Director Of Instruction-Health and Safety for School District 71, indicated that a public safety bulletin “was not warranted”.

“Please know, that as soon as the District was made aware of event that took place yesterday, we contacted the local detachment to determine what if any public safety information could be prepared and communicated to our school communities,” wrote Berry.

“RCMP advised that they had identified the subject in question and that they did not believe him to be a risk to our student population.”

98.9 The Goat reached out to the RCMP and the school district for comment on what occurred.

According to Constable Rob Gardner, the media spokesperson for the detachment, officers did respond to an incident in the 400 block of Lerwick Road in Courtenay around 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

“All the parties involved have been spoken to, and the suspect was identified and spoken to as well,” said Gardner.

“There will not be charges forthcoming from this incident.”

Gardner also indicated the school district was advised of the investigation and its outcome, and declined to answer further questions about the investigation.

School District 71 directed all questions to the RCMP.

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