News | Convicted rapist living in Milton-Parc

Michael Giroux, the “High Park rapist,” residing in student neighbourhood following release

Content warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual violence that may be triggering for some readers.

Recent reports confirm that Michael Giroux, a convicted rapist released from prison in the fall of 2016, is currently living in the Milton-Parc neighborhood adjacent to McGill.

A National Post article about Giroux’s current residence, published on May 2, was shared within McGill groups on social media. One student, Julia Métraux, provided a link to the article and included a plea for students to stay safe.

In the days that followed, dozens of other students repeated Métraux’s sentiment, tagging friends and warning each other of the possible threat.

Giroux sexually assaulted women in Toronto in the 1980s, and became known as the “High Park rapist.” He stalked women ranging from 23 to 42 years old, broke into their homes, and sexually assaulted them after threatening to kill them.

Giroux sexually assaulted women in Toronto in the 1980s, and became known as the “High Park rapist.”

In 1996, Giroux pled guilty to five counts of sexual assault and over 30 related crimes. After serving 13 years, annual hearings of Giroux’s case were held, considering statutory release until the end of his sentence. Statutory release, which allows an individual to serve the final third of their term in the community, is applicable for federally-sentenced prisoners who have already served two-thirds of their term. However, the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) may issue a detention order, keeping the individual incarcerated, if it finds there to be a strong likelihood that they will do further harm.

Despite yearly hearings with the PBC, Giroux was denied statutory release all seven times. He served a full sentence of 20 years in prison, during which the PBC noted that Giroux demonstrated little remorse.

According to the National Post, “Giroux refused treatment during his imprisonment and continued to minimize the harm caused to his victims.”

Apparently, both the PBC and Correctional Services Canada found that Giroux was “considered at high risk to reoffend.”

According to the National Post, “Giroux refused treatment during his imprisonment and continued to minimize the harm caused to his victims.”

Giroux’s unwillingness to accept treatment sparked debate on social media. Some McGill students felt that Giroux’s sentence should have been longer in order to protect the public. Others felt that his lack of remorse demonstrates failures within the Canadian prison system.

“Prison needs to be as corrective as it is punitive. The fact that this guy didn’t change after 20 years can be rectified by locking him up for longer, or we can reform our system so that guys like this fundamentally change and can rejoin society,” wrote McGill student Tim Min.

Another student, Andrew Figueiredo, responded, “It’s easy to start pontificating about the ethics of punishment, but the fact of the matter is that a serial rapist who refused treatment is now living near McGill students.”

Since his release, the authorities have imposed 21 restrictions on Giroux’s behaviour under a peace bond. He must stay at the address informed to the court between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and must obtain permission to leave Quebec. Giroux is forbidden from contacting his victims, or anyone under the age of 16 without supervision. Other precautions include restrictions on possessing or using firearms, weapons, alcohol, drugs, internet access, and pornography. However, Giroux will reportedly be under these terms for only two years.

“It’s easy to start pontificating about the ethics of punishment, but the fact of the matter is that a serial rapist who refused treatment is now living near McGill students.”

According to the National Post, Giroux is currently living in four-story building on the edge of the McGill Ghetto with a banner outside that reads “Welcome McGill.”

The Daily contacted Graeme Hamilton, who wrote the National Post article in question.

“Since the article was published,” wrote Hamilton, in an email to The Daily, “I heard from people in the McGill community who had established where [Giroux] was living, and have been informed by the landlord that he is moving out as early as this weekend so the information may soon be out of date.”

The McGill administration, meanwhile, is aware of the situation and has made an announcement to the university population.

“We [have sent] a message to our community reminding them of safety precautions they should take,” said Doug Sweet, McGill’s Director of Internal Communications, in an email to The Daily. “We cannot legally send a message around identifying a specific individual or sharing a photo.”

“I heard from people in the McGill community who had established where [Giroux] was living, and have been informed by the landlord that he is moving out as early as this weekend.”

This message to the community came in the form of an email from Pierre Barbarie, the director of Campus Public Safety. The announcement, sent to all students and faculty on May 4, detailed general safety precautions. While the email did not explicitly mention Giroux, the timing of the email indicates potential safety concerns for students in Milton-Parc.

The administration’s response is similar to another safety reminder sent last November, concerning “reports of a small number of incidents near the northern portion of the lower downtown campus.” That email referred to the experiences of several women who were verbally assaulted and, in some cases, chased by a sexual predator. In both cases, McGill’s email failed to mention the gendered nature of the violence involved.

Erin Sobat, VP University Affairs of the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU), responded to the administration’s handling of the situation in an email to The Daily.

“We are concerned that this information [about Giroux’s residence in Milton-Parc] was not communicated directly to students by either the police or the university,” wrote Sobat. “[SSMU] members should not be expected to learn about something like this through the press, social media, or word of mouth. If the authorities are expecting students to take their own security precautions, they at least deserve to have a real sense of the threats present.”

In both cases, McGill’s email failed to mention the gendered nature of the violence involved.

In a follow-up conversation with The Daily, Sweet stressed the difficult nature of this situation. Even though Giroux may pose a threat, he is a free citizen as long as he meets the conditions of the peace bond. While breaching conditions have legal consequences, thereby have a deterrent effect, peace bonds are not permanent. There is little the administration can do, said Sweet, as authorities are not required to inform the public of the convicted sex offender’s presence in their neighborhood.

Update: According to La Presse, Giroux was scheduled to report his new address at the Montreal Courthouse on Friday May 5. However, he failed to appear for unknown reasons. Under the Canadian Sex Offender Information Registration Act, the offender is obligated to report their new address within seven days of changing residence. Failure to comply can result in fines or imprisonment for up to two years.


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