High-risk sex offender seen on university campuses prior to police warning
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:36PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 24, 2017 7:58PM PDT
May 24, 2017 update: Cameron Ratelle has been arrested for breaching his long-term supervision order. Vancouver police said he remained in custody after his arrest.
The day after Vancouver police issued a warning about a high-risk sex offender living in the city, CTV News has learned that the man has been prowling university campuses in the area.
On Thursday, police warned the public that Cameron Eugene Ratelle is living in a Vancouver halfway house under several conditions. They did not disclose that the 38-year-old had been on the radar of at least one other local law enforcement agency for at least a month.
Ratelle, whose crimes include assaulting a woman on a university dorm room, paid visits to post-secondary schools in the Lower Mainland on April 7, 8 and 9, parole board documents showed.
CTV Vancouver has confirmed that one of those schools was the University of British Columbia, and that he was seen inside a dormitory.
Sgt. Drew Grainger with the RCMP’s UBC detachment told CTV that police and campus security responded to the call, and when Ratelle was identified, he was escorted off UBC grounds.
Ratelle was also spotted in April at Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University, according to SFU spokesperson Gabby Armstrong.
Both Burnaby and UBC RCMP deferred further questions to Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau at RCMP Provincial Headquarters.
Linteau declined to comment further about either incident, other than to say RCMP was aware of the VPD’s public warning.
UBC's managing director of public affairs said staff at the school did "everything we could" to spread the word around campus when Vancouver police issued the warning Thursday.
When asked why an alert wasn't issued after Ratelle was spotted inside a dorm more than a month earlier, Susan Danard said the university takes its cues from police to security concerns.
"We could always do better. I don't think there's any such thing as too much safety," Danard added.
Students and staff at UBC reacted to the news with concern.
"I'm going to be more conscious about going out at night," said a student named Geraldine.
Student Marina Schor said she was frightened by the news of his release.
“It is terrifying, because women, especially young women, are targeted every day,” she told CTV.
Court records show that Ratelle pleaded guilty to breaking into a University of Toronto residence hall in 2001 and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old female student in her dorm room.
In 2006, he pleaded guilty to following a 16-year-old from Coquitlam on the Skytrain and a bus before sexually assaulting her.
In addition to crimes in Ontario and B.C., Ratelle was also convicted of sexual assault and other charges in Quebec and sentenced to 61 days in jail in January.
According to the Parole Board, Ratelle was released from jail in Quebec on Feb. 28 under a Long Term Supervision Order that did not impose a residency requirement.
The Parole Board documents go on to say police in multiple provinces, including B.C., searched for Ratelle in April, and “it was determined [he was] not living at the place [he] had identified.”
Ratelle was apprehended on April 11.
In outlining its decision to impose a stricter conditions – including a residency requirement on Ratelle – the parole board also revealed that he is “suspected in five sexual assaults which, while still unproven allegations, are relevant in making the decision today.”
The RCMP’s Linteau would not comment on whether it was investigating Ratelle in connection with any sex assaults in BC. No charges have been laid.
Monday's parole board decision does not specifically address the conditions Ratelle was released under in February, if any, nor does it specifically say whether or not he violated those requirements. In the past, according to the documents, Ratelle has failed to comply with probation orders some 22 times.
Vancouver police said he “poses a risk of significant harm to the safety of young women, particularly those 16 to 25 years old.”
Const. Jason Doucette said Thursday that police are concerned about the risk Ratelle poses to women specifically at schools around Vancouver.
“It’s definitely a concern of ours. And we work closely with other agencies including the RCMP, campus security. We’ve been in contact with local campuses,” he said.
According to a Correctional Service of Canada assessment, Ratelle is a moderate to high risk for violent and sexual re-offending.
“We are monitoring him and we will continue to monitor him like we do with any high-risk offender living in Vancouver,” Doucette said.
Ratelle is black, 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, with a stocky build, a shaved head, clean-shaven face, brown eyes, and often uses a hearing aid.
The conditions of his statutory release include the following:
- he cannot go on the property of any educational institution or school
- he cannot be in the presence of anyone under age 18 without permission
- he must abide by a daily curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
- he cannot possess, purchase or consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs
- he cannot possess, purchase or access pornography
- he cannot access any internet site or computer
- he must reside at a community correctional centre or community residential facility
Anyone who sees Ratelle violating of any of these conditions is asked to call 9-1-1.
With reports from CTV Vancouver's David Molko