HIV positive child sex offender paroled, takes on new identity

August 26, 2017
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HIV positive child sex offender paroled, takes on new identity

(Video below)

A recidivist child sex offender has been freed on parole with a new name and identity and wants privacy – but the family of her victims say the community has a right to know who and where she is.

The offender, 33, who was sentenced under the birth name Rory Francis, served six-and-a-half years in prison for a raft of sex crimes against two young children over three years.

Francis had been diagnosed as HIV positive before the offending, which came after an earlier jail term for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old boy.

Rory Francis now identifies as a female and has changed her name to Laken McKay. She was freed in May and is now living in Auckland.

The family of her most recent victims contacted the Herald after she was released, concerned her new identity meant the community were not aware of her past offending.

The father of the victims said the public “had a right to know” about McKay, particularly given she was a repeat offender.

“I don’t think he should be getting out at all,” said the father, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

“I was pretty disgusted when I found out.”

The father believed McKay had no right to privacy: “The community need to know who he is, how can anyone be aware of him and what he is done if they have no idea of his new name?”

The family refer to McKay as “he” because it was as a man, Rory Francis, that he offended against the children.

They acknowledge McKay’s change of gender.

The victims still live in the Auckland area and the father said he was now worried he or the children will encounter McKay.

“It’s pretty horrible,” he said.

“It’s important to me that people know who he is,” said an aunt, who was also upset McKay had been granted parole.

“It’s like he’s trying to hide his identity, who he is and what he has done.

“With this new identity no one knows what happened, and unless people know who he is they will not know about his crime and they have a right to know.

“I feel like he is trying to escape what happened, but we need to protect our children and the community – otherwise no one is the wiser.”

Rory Francis – repeat sex offender

In December 2010 McKay, then known as Francis, was jailed for nine years and four months after admitting a raft of sexual offences against two children over a three-year period.

At sentencing in the High Court at Auckland it was revealed that it was not the first time Francis had been convicted of child sex offending.

In 2005 he sexually abused a 7-year-old boy and was sentenced to 15 months in jail as a result.

The offence happened during a game of “truth or dare” initiated by Francis.

He used a similar game to abuse his next victims.

During these games he got them to remove their clothes, perform star jumps and then rub themselves against him while he was naked.

There were other incidents described in court as “unusually degrading”.

Francis also inflicted further abuse on the little girl.

The offending only ceased when the young victims spoke out about what Francis had been doing.

Francis pleaded guilty to 13 of charges relating to a girl under 12 including rape, sexual violation and sexual conduct with a child.

He also pleaded to guilty to five charges of sexual conduct with a child – a boy under 12.

At his sentencing in December 2010 Justice Patrick Keane described Francis’ offending as “invasive, damaging and, on occasions, extremely degrading”.

He rejected the Crown’s request for an indefinite term of preventive detention, saying Francis “did express remorse and some insight into his offending, and a willingness to undertake therapy”.

Pre-sentence reports suggested there was hope Francis “could turn his life around with therapy” if he had a finite sentence.

“It will be highly important for the Parole Board when deciding if you can be released that you have undergone therapy successfully,” Justice Keane said.

Francis had to serve four years and eight months of his sentence before he became eligible for parole.

Sex offender demands ‘privacy’

The Herald spoke to McKay this week.

Initially through Facebook messenger she indicated she did not want to be part of the story, saying “out of respect for my victims” and “to allow me to get on with my new life”.

She said publishing her new name would “ruin her” and the progress she had made.

She then contacted the Herald by phone and asked for privacy.

“I’ve turned my life around,” she said.

“I’ve done my time, it’s like I’m being punished again … you’re really going to sink me.”

McKay said she was not a danger to the public and there was no need to publish her new identity, regardless of what her victim’s’ family thought.

“I know I’m not a risk to society any more,” she said.

“I’ve been reformed.”

She asked to meet for an interview with the Herald, but later asked for a list of questions to be sent via Facebook.

This morning she said she would not answer those.

“I wish to give no comment at this time,” she said via Facebook.

A screen shot of the most recent conversation between sex offender Laken McKay’s and Herald reporter Anna Leask on Facebook messenger. Photograph supplied

The victims’ aunt believed McKay had no right to privacy.

“What he did destroyed our family. It’s been so traumatic for everyone,” she said.

“It really tore our family apart – why should he move on with his life when we can’t?

“This affected us immensely and people deserve to know who he is and what his crimes are.”

The aunt did not accept McKay’s claim that she was reformed and no longer a danger.

“It only stopped because my nephew told someone – who knows how long it could have gone on for otherwise?

“People need to know.”

Parole denied – then granted

The recidivist offender was refused parole in November last year.

The board said McKay had made “significant gains” after completing offending-related programmes and psychological reports said she was “highly motivated” and had developed an “increased understanding” of her crimes, but she was still a risk to the community.

There were “challenges associated with her sexual orientation” and other personal issues that were “identified as an overarching risk factor”.

A lack of solid long-term accommodation and concerns over her release plan also contributed to the board refusing parole.

“Ms McKay has been assessed as at medium to high risk of sexual re-offending,” the parole decision, provided to the Herald by her victims’ family, revealed.

“Her behaviour during treatment evidences obvious concerns of potential sexual activity which might, on release, extend to sexual offending

“In our view Ms McKay needs to advance a release plan which provides her with more than short-term accommodation, and a suitably supported environment.

“Until that is before the board we do not consider risk issues will have been adequately addressed to the point where she can be safely released on parole.”

McKay appeared before the board again earlier this year and was granted parole.

She was released from prison on May 22 and is living in the Auckland area.

The Herald has chosen not to publish the specifics of her living situation so as not to compromise her personal safety.

McKay’s release had a number of special release conditions including electronic monitoring until August 22, a night-time curfew and not to associate with or have any contact with people under 16 unless directly supervised by an approved adult.

While the electronic monitoring finished this week, she is subject to the curfew – 11pm to 7am – until her sentence end date in September 2019.

McKay was also ordered “not to enter, or loiter near, any school, preschool, park, library, recreation centre or area (including swimming pools), church, or any other place … where children under 16 congregate” without permission from her probation officer.

She must also appear before the board in March to enable them to monitor her compliance with those conditions.

On August 8, the board saw McKay for a progress hearing and revealed in a report that she had an “unsettled start to her parole”.

Firstly, there had been issues with her accommodation and she had been forced to move.

Then, she was involved in a “high risk incident”.

The board said she was at a transgender group meeting where one of the attendees was in possession of a laptop, which was a breach of their own special conditions.

McKay advised her probation officer and the board said the matter was dealt with “responsibly”.

There were concerns around her being “too trusting of those around her” and was disclosing her offending to people “that she barely knew”.

“The concern was that Ms McKay was making herself vulnerable and was putting herself at risk as a result,” the board said.

At the progress hearing, McKay told the board she was trying to be more discrete about her past and had “distanced herself from two further high risk situations”, one in which she was offered cannabis.

She also said she thought she had “developed good coping skills”.

“Ms McKay has made good efforts to reintegrate into the community.

“She has been active in increasing her support in the community, including through volunteering at a drop in centre for HIV positive clients.

“She has also been actively involved in a number of transgender support groups … it is clear that these groups are providing her with support and she is making friends in the community.”

Who’s watching this sex offender?

Monitoring of McKay while she is on parole and subject to a curfew and other conditions falls to Corrections.

“Corrections is managing the offender as per the conditions imposed,” a spokesman said.

“Corrections is aware that this offender has changed her name and we are in regular communication with other agencies.”

The other agencies include police, who maintain the Child Sex Offender Register.

The register was established in October under new legislation, the Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Government Agency Registration) Act 2016.

The register contains current personal information about registered child sex offenders living in the community and according to police “is a tool to help with the monitoring of people who have offended in the past, with the aim of preventing re-offending and keeping children safe”.

Only offenders who are convicted of “qualifying” offences are placed on the register, and only if a that is ordered by a judge.

The register is not public and as such, police would not comment on whether McKay was on it, or what information was held about her including whether her current and birth names and other known aliases were recorded.

A police spokeswoman said generally, when an order was made for a person to be placed on the register, information held about them included “their current name, any previous names and the dates they were known by those names, alias and nicknames that police are aware of”.

Other identifying features such as scars, marks, tattoos are also recorded.

“If a person on the register changes their name, they must advise police of any new name or identity they are using,” the spokeswoman said.

“Failure to do so is considered a breach of their obligations.”

Anyone guilty of a breach faced a fine of up to $2000 or up to a year in jail.

If an offender provided false or misleading information the penalty jumped to a maximum fine of $4000 or up to four years in jail.

Facebook says ‘no’ to convicted sex offenders

Social media site Facebook has a strict policy – no convicted sex offenders allowed.

But it is yet to ban McKay.

The social networking site’s user policy states that convicted sex offenders are not allowed to use the site.

McKay set up a profile page soon after her release.

It was regularly updated with selfies and posts about her new life – including “check ins” at various locations.

Screengrab showing Facebook policy on convicted sex offenders. Photo supplied

When the family of her victims found out about the profile they reported it to Facebook.

There are a number of other people who have also reported the sex offender’s page.

It appears McKay has now changed the settings on her page so it cannot be viewed or searched.

The Herald has been communicating with McKay on Facebook since Tuesday, including a message from the sex offender at 9.44am today.

A spokeswoman for Facebook confirmed that McKay’s account had been permanently disabled this afternoon.

“The user will not have the ability to restore the account,” she said.

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