A 46-year-old Florida sex offender has been granted asylum in Canada after fleeing there five years ago, CBC News reports.
Denise Harvey reportedly fled to Canada following her 2008 conviction. Harvey was found guilty of five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor after she had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old boy on her son’s baseball team. The couple reportedly had sex six times, once at her office and five times at the boy’s father’s house.
After arriving in Canada, Harvey was able to avoid notice from 2009 to 2011, when Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested her for skipping out on her sentence. Harvey promptly claimed that her 30 year prison sentence was “cruel and unusual punishment,” and applied for asylum.
Canadian authorities have now ruled that Harvey will be allowed to stay in the country. The ruling stems from the fact that in Canada, 16 is the age of consent. Harvey’s sexual conduct with the teenager is therefore perfectly legal under Canadian law.
The decision caps a dramatic series of reversals in which it appeared that Harvey would be extradited to face her sentence in the United States. According to MailOnline, the Federal Court of Canada initially reversed the ruling, and stripped the asylum-seeker of her refugee status. While prosecutors in Vero Beach, Florida, were hopeful that Harvey would be extradited, a second ruling by the court reinstated the decision. With the announcement that her protected status has been returned, the Canadian government appears to be out of legal options to expel her.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, speaking to CBC in May, used harsh words to express his frustration with the situation:
“Our Conservative government reformed Canada’s asylum system in order to protect genuine refugees, individuals truly in need of protection. I find it mind-boggling that individuals from the United States, which has been designated a safe country, precisely because it respects human rights and does not normally produce refugees, think it is acceptable to file asylum claims in Canada. Lucky for them, they have no understanding of what true persecution is, and what it means to be a genuine refugee.”
If the Canadian government truly is out of options, it appears that Harvey will get off far easier than most child molesters. She is hardly the first person to seek asylum from the American justice system in Canada. As The Inquisitr reported, songwriter Jesse Winchester, who passed away earlier this year, fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft.
Harvey’s official status is now that of a protected person. Her asylum paves the way for her to legally apply for permanent residency, and eventually, for Canadian citizenship.