Set up to fail?

(Lac du Bonnet/Google maps)

Less than two months after getting out of the clink for indecent exposure and child-porn offences, Bruce Nelson, 50, decided to take a drive.

It was June 22, a beautiful early summer afternoon, and classes at a school in the Manitoba community of Lac du Bonnet were just letting out.

Two young girls, who shall remain nameless, are out walking, likely talking about the weekend they were about to enjoy.

They spot a car driving past them slowly. Driving it was a man, looking right at them. It passes, but then circles back at a speed “half as slow as a car would normally drive,” one of them later told RCMP. The man kept staring.

I’ll let Manitoba prosecutor Terry McComb pick up the details:

“The girls realized that even though he had his hands the steering wheel he actually had the window of the car open and down, and he had his pants off and his penis out,” McComb said at. “They saw that his shirt was rolled up and he essentially exposed himself to them. On the two times that he circled he didn’t say anything to the girls he just stared at them … When they saw that, they ran off.”

A parent was called, and RCMP were on scene within minutes and took Nelson into custody.

The arresting officer noted Nelson’s shirt was rolled up, belly exposed and he had no shoes on.

In the back seat was his underwear.

Placed beside him were two dispensers of hand cream.

After processing him, they took the father of two to jail, where he was up until Thursday afternoon, or possibly early Friday morning. He’s expected to be living back near Lac du Bonnet with his aged parents.

He had already been locked up for more time than he was supposed to get for the indecent exposure [and the breaches of the child-porn probation] so on Thursday, the courts let him go.

But here’s the [less tawdry and more interesting part*]. Nelson, who had already violated the terms of his probation order in connection to the child-porn crimes, was handed a second order.

While that’s nothing out of the ordinary, the terms of that order certainly are.

“Quite unusual,” is how McComb described the conditions she and defence lawyer Saul Simmonds arrived at.

In addition to the usual factors (keep the peace, report to probation, curfew checks, etc) Nelson’s order includes some rather novel conditions he’ll have to live by for the next three years. And yes, part of that is sex-offender counselling,

Quoth McComb:

“They’ve been crafted very carefully to address the concerns we have about the accused being out in the community. They might seem onorous, but there’s some very particular issues that are attempting to be addressed through these conditions,” she said.

She didn’t get into what those “particular issues” were, per se, but you get the gist from the list of extra conditions he’ll face below:

  • Not be alone with anyone under 16
  • Not be in the company of anyone under 16 except in a public place and accompanied by another adult
  • Not to communicate with anyone under 16 unless they are a service provider of a commercial business and [he is] utilizing the services of that business.

“That would allow him to go to a Tim Hortons and speak to a 15 year old,” McComb said. “It won’t allow him to chat with a child on the street.”

  • Report to police the make and model of any vehicle he owns or operates, and only drive or operate those vehicles.
  • Participate and complete counselling as per directives of probation services. Including, sex-offender counselling. As well, agree to participate in assessments and treatments and share the results of those with probation services.
  • House arrest for the first three months (to get all the programming to be provided to him in place).

Nelson is already bound by a SOIRA order [in other words, he’s a listed sex-offender on a federal database].

It’s a lot of restrictions, no doubt. And I guess the concern is — will they set Nelson up to fail?

Simmonds was clear that it’s up to his client to get through it and get help.

“He has to embrace these options and opportunities,” he said, adding later, “In isolation, this particular matter might not seem overly serious, but because of some of the prior involvements … the community of Lac du Bonnet is concerned.”

Nelson had nothing to say when Judge Robert Heinrichs asked him if he did.

Heinrichs, however, did.

“I’m hoping you’ve come to the realization that you need some help,” he said, adding the probation orders he’ll be under will no doubt make his life “pretty difficult.”

“I have no doubt that this was something that was discussed in the community of Lac du Bonnet and probably had some parents in quite some mode of paranoia and wondering if there kid was next or subject to possibly having you encounter them in an inappropriate fashion,” the judge said “It strikes a lot of fear in the minds of parents to say nothing of what it may do to the children if you encounter them.”

-30-

*Interesting in the procedural sense. Not necessarily interesting as in: Has mass appeal.

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