Long praised as well as criticized, a controversial website outing convicted Canadian pedophiles went live Friday.
StopPedophiles.ca, developed and launched by the group Canada Family Action, collects information from public sources and publishes the names of convicted pedophiles across the country, the locations where the crimes took place, as well as any news articles relevant to each case.
CFA president Brian Rushfeldt said the website does not aim to further penalize child sex offenders, but will act where the national sex offender is inadequate and incomplete.
"Once you commit that kind of a crime, in fact once you commit any crime, you become a public figure," he said.
"That’s just the reality.
"You will show up in court records and for certain crimes you’ll show up in the media … you can find that information just simply by typing in a name (into a search engine)."
Also on the website are resources or links to resources for victims, parents and guardians, as well as the offenders themselves.
"We hope in fact that they do rehabilitation and become part of society," he said.
Glori Meldrum, a child sex abuse survivor, a mother and founder of the advocacy group Little Warriors, is all for the launch of the website.
She said innocent people have the right to know where convicted sex offenders are.
The law protects them enough as is, she believes.
"Currently in this country they have more rights than the kids do," she said.
"They’re the ones the committed the crime.
"In Calgary we have three (rehabilitation centres for offenders), in Edmonton we have three, yet we don’t have any facilities to help the kids from a treatment perspective."
As long as it’s all good and legal, it could be a valuable resource to the public, said Calgary Police Association president John Dooks.
"There’s always value in it … when (the police service) identifies individuals we do that, too," he said.
"There is always a caution about vigilantism, although I’m more confident that the majority of our citizens are more concerned about public awareness."
Rushfeldt acknowledged deciding what information to offer is a fine line and a hard decision, but he said ultimately the goals CFA are trying to accomplish outweighs potentially offending a convicted pedophile.
"We feel strongly and we’ve been working on protecting children for 11 years now and we feel this is one more step," he said.