Kerri Kehoe was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and almost murdered by Richard Charles Joyce in 1990. The previous year, Mr. Joyce sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl with Down syndrome. He kidnapped another 9-year-old girl six months later, beat her, sexually assaulted her, and threatened to kill her and her mother.
About six months later, he intercepted Ms. Kehoe as she walked to a mall near her home in Kingston, Ontario.
“I believe his fantasy was to kill me during the sexual act,” Ms. Kehoe told The Epoch Times in an interview.
She said she believes the "graphic details" of how the attack played out as she begged for her life kept Mr. Joyce from killing her, but those details prevented her from speaking about it for 20 years.
“When I was returned safely, and I was alive, I was consumed by shame and embarrassment and fear and all the rest of it, so I never said anything.”
Later, Mr. Joyce was jailed for the murder of Margaret Yvonne Roleau, a mother of three whose body was found with bruising and puncture wounds that indicated torture. His accomplice, Terry Douglas Kennedy, was an employee of the gas station Ms. Roleau owned. Mr. Kennedy fatally stabbed her but was brazen enough to be a pallbearer at her funeral.
As Mr. Joyce was applying for parole in 2011, DNA evidence connected him to his second victim. The solved cold case made headlines and prompted Ms. Kehoe and the mother of the Down syndrome child to come forward. The initial cold case led to a 10-year sentence for Mr. Joyce, while convictions from the other two prompted 12-year sentences—all to be served concurrently.
“Back in 2011, the question was asked, ‘Should he be made a dangerous offender?’ And we were informed at that time that they don't want to waste the resources because he's leaving prison in a body bag,” Ms. Kehoe recalled.
“He's a serial child-kidnapping rapist and murderer and he should have been made a dangerous offender, and that window is now closed. Had I known this day was coming, I would have for sure advocated and spoken up about moving forward with spending the resources to make him [declared] a dangerous offender.”
Ms. Kehoe got the media ban on her name lifted from court records to facilitate speaking engagements across the country. She told police and victim service agencies about the importance of their work, never thinking her openness might haunt her.
“When I was contacted last year, informing me that he was eligible for escorted passes in the community, I couldn't believe it,” she said. “Then this year, I was contacted and told that he was up for parole.”
“There's no cure for pedophilia. He's become a model prisoner, and model prisoners do not become pedophiles—pedophiles become model prisoners. The community is not safe,” she said.
In the past month, Ms. Kehoe asked the board about Mr. Kennedy’s whereabouts and discovered he is getting escorted passes into the community.
“What I learned from dealing with the Parole Board of Canada, they are top-heavy in rehabilitation of the offender. They are not there for the victims. They want and need offenders that get on the street, and so a lot of things need to change,” she said.
Victims' RightsCRCVC executive director Aline Vlasceanu has issued a statement to the Parole Board urging that Mr. Joyce remain incarcerated.
“Paroling him would perpetuate the suffering of victims and their families and undermine the safety and well-being of our community. We implore you to consider the broader implications of this decision and to prioritize the rights and safety of the innocent over any other consideration,” she wrote.
“The system is set up in a way that the victims and the re-traumatization of victims isn't necessarily accounted for. For someone from the Parole Board this is just another hearing, but for these people, they're reliving what they've gone through.”
In response to an inquiry from The Epoch Times, Tanya Glenn a regional manager for the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) in the Pacific Region, said the board "is committed to including victims of crime in the conditional release process."
"Victims of crime may submit information to the PBC at any time related to safety concerns, the offender's risk to re-offend and/or the effect the crime has had on them, their family, or the community," she wrote. "A victim can also request that special conditions be imposed on the offender's release for the PBC to consider."
Ms. Glenn said victims can provide a statement detailing the physical, emotional, or financial impact the offence has had on them, and any other information that may be relevant. This "assists PBC Board members to understand the seriousness of the offence and to assess whether the offender recognizes the harm they have done.”
She said such information also helps the board assess "if additional conditions are necessary to manage the offender's risk in the community, especially if the offender will be living near the victim or is a member of the victim's family. The Parole Board may, for example, impose a special condition for no contact with the victim(s)."
Since the pandemic, the Parole Board has allowed victims to testify at hearings online. But Ms. Vlasceanu said the process can still take a toll on victims, especially if they want to testify in person.
“Victims, are they able to travel physically, mentally, psychologically? [You] take time off work, you have to go there. The process isn't victim-centred or trauma-informed," she said.
"It is a tedious, re-traumatizing process. And the fact that it can be cancelled up until the last minute by offenders is a massive issue. We deal with this. We have other victims whose offender have cancelled their hearings five [to] nine times. So that's [multiple] times where that victim had to write a statement, submit the statement, get all the details of the hearing, take time off work, and then suddenly not have a hearing to attend."
Ms. Kehoe intends to testify from Kingston with a roomful of supporters present. She believes Mr. Joyce will be transferred to the William Head Institution, a minimum-security facitilty in Metchosin, B.C., in hopes of a “quiet release” far from where his crimes are remembered. The prospect of his parole haunts her all the more because of another young family member from her hometown.
“In 1982, in Kingston, my cousin April Morrison was murdered by a pedophile who was let out of jail early. He had tried to rape a 4-year-old girl and and they let him out early. And only 11 days after his release, he murdered my cousin," she said.
“There's no cure for pedophilia. They should never see the light of day.”