Lawyers for accused sex offender file complaint against Edmonton police over public warning
EDMONTON -- Lawyers representing a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl have filed a Police Act complaint against the Edmonton Police Service.
The complaint cites a June 17 public EPS warning about Wade Stene that said the accused would be living in the McQueen neighbourhood while released on bail, the same community as the eight-year-old girl.
"The 'public warning' issued by the EPS undermined the role of the courts in our society and was willfully or negligently false," reads the complaint from the from Raponi, Rideout and Tarrabain law firm, noting a judge determined that Stene should be released.
"[EPS] knew or ought to have known that it would cause unnecessary panic which could lead to greater harm."
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The warning drew outrage from the community and sparked a rally outside Stene's mother's home last weekend.
The June 25 complaint alleges that hundreds have stood outside her home and gone onto her property.
It also alleges a number of racial slurs and death threats were directed at his mother, a Cree woman, outside her home following the public warning.
Other alleged incidents include her being told to "watch your back" when leaving for work, a coffin being placed in front of the home and a noose and handcuffs being left on her walkway.
"This type of vigilante justice would surely not have occured but for the EPS 'public warning,'" reads the complaint.
It also accuses EPS officers of not taking the issues around Stene's mother's home seriously, including officers fist-bumping with protesters and providing them with water.
Edmonton Police has no comment other than to acknowledge they have received the complaint and will reply to the complainant in due time.
The complaint calls on EPS to launch an investigation into its handling of events since the warning was issued.
Complaints filed under the Alberta Police Act are referred to the relevant city's chief of police who determines if it will proceed.
The girl's family issued a statement to CTV News saying she is doing as well as can be expected but that Stene's proximity has been a "devastating blow to herself and her family."
"We are heartbroken and angry that Mr. Stene has been released on bail into the victim's neighbourhood and believe that the more appropriate decision would have been to keep him in prison until his hearing," reads the statement.
"However, we do not condone the harrassment and threats Mr. Stene's family has experienced. We hope that future protests will be directed at the courthouse and not at Mr. Stene's home."
None of the allegations against Stene have been proven or tested in court.
Read the family's statement in its entirety below:
"We are grateful for the support of so many people who have spoken out in defense of the victim. She is doing as well as can be expected, but this has been a devastating blow to herself and her family. We are heartbroken and angry that Mr. Stene has been released on bail into the victim's neighbourhood and believe that the more appropriate decision would have been to keep him in prison until his hearing. However, we do not condone the harrassment and threats Mr. Stene's family has experienced. We hope that future protests will be directed at the courthouse and not at Mr. Stene's home. We are acutely aware of all of the lives at stake here, including, especially, the victim, but also the members of the McQueen community, and Mr. Stene's family."