HALIFAX - As police narrow their search for a pair of Nova Scotia men accused of chaining up and raping a 16-year-old boy for weeks, the fact that one of the men on the run is also awaiting trial on other sex charges against children has victims rights groups calling for changes to the Criminal Code.
David James Leblanc, 47, is charged with forcible confinement and sexual assault after a teenager told the family who helped free him that he had been scooped off of the streets of Halifax and driven to a shack in Upper Chelsea where he was shackled and raped repeatedly by two men. The boy escaped.
Wayne Alan Cunningham, 31, is also charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement. His rap sheet includes breaking and entering and fraud convictions.
Both are at large and police say they are getting tips from Ontario that indicate the pair, likely still driving their grey 2003 Hyundai Elantra, have made it that far.
Leblanc was already awaiting trial, accused of sexual assaulting a two-year-old and a five-year-old boy in different Nova Scotia towns. He's also charged with producing child pornography. He was released back into the community to await his trial.
"Children are vulnerable members of society and deserve to be protected from sexual predators," said Irene Smith, the executive director of Halifax's Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, in a press release. "Nova Scotians should question why the justice system decided to release Leblanc."
Victims groups say suspects charged with sex assaults and violence, especially against children, be kept in custody until trial.
"Every time I hear a story like this I am livid, I am outraged," Joe Wamback, chairman and founder of the Canadian Crime Victims Foundation, told QMI. "If we keep removing accountability then no one is safe. The judge isn't accountable, the prosecutor isn't accountable, and now we have another young person's life that's destroyed."
The federal government weighed in on the case Friday, but stopped short of saying changes are coming to the Criminal Code.
"Our government strongly believes that those who commit violent sexual offences against children are among the worst of the worst," said Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. "While specific changes to the Criminal Code and bail requirements are overseen by Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson, I can say that we have consistently taken steps to ensure that dangerous criminals are kept behind bars where they belong."
Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said ankle bracelets should be used to track violent psychiatric patients and accused awaiting trial on sex charges.