By Nicole Cohen
Parents who send their children to Ryerson’s daycare are relieved a convicted pedophile is back behind bars — but they’re still upset police didn’t warn them he was living in the area.
“I was disappointed and angry because my daughter and her welfare are more precious to me than anything,” said Tom Buis, whose 4-year-old daughter Nina goes the the Early Learning Centre.
Peter Whitmore, 30, was living downtown for almost two weeks before parents of children at Ryerson’s daycare were notified.
Last month, Whitmore was forced out of an Etobicoke neighbourhood once concerned residents learned he was living there. He was relocated by police somewhere in the downtown core.
Early Monday morning, Whitmore was arrested after police found him in a hotel room at the Inn On The Bay on Elm Street, just a block from Ryerson’s campus, with a 13-year-old male runaway. As a condition of Whitmore’s release from prison, he is not allowed to be around children under the age of 14 without being accompanied by another adult.
Even though Whitmore is back in jail, parents of the kids at Ryerson’s daycare are still angry.
“We should have been notified,” said Malcolm MacNeil, who sits on the centre’s parent advisory committee and has a 4-year-old girl and a 7-month-old boy in the daycare. “Bt we reside in a large institution so police consider us part of Ryerson, an adult institution.”
Police notified area schools that Whitmore was living in their neighbourhood, but not the Early Learning Centre.
So Barbara Lozano, RyeSAC’s v.p. development and finance, who has a 3-year-old daughter in the daycare, took matters into her own hands.
On Nov. 8, she photocopied a police news release and took it to the monthly parent advisory committee meeting.
“There was a high-risk offender living in this division and he molests kids,” Lozano said. “It doesn’t hurt to let people know.”
Detective Constable Brian Thomson, of Toronto police’s secual assault squad, said neglecting to notify Ryerson’s daycare was an oversight.
He said his squad sent a notice about Whitmore to the Toronto school boards, but left it up to the officers in the 52 division — the police division that patrols the university — to warn daycares and community centres in their area.
“Whitmore’s picture is all over the media,” Thomson said. “The community shouldn’t be afraid of someone whose face they can recognize.”
Thomson said it is possible police at 52 division didn’t know the Ryerson daycare exists. Because the Early Learning Centre is run out of the university, it is not on the police list of daycares.
Since the oversight, Ryerson’s daycare has been added to the list.
Before Whitmore’s most recent arrest, lawyer Daniel Brodsky said his client didn’t need police supervision because he was integrating into the community and attending meetings of the Circle of Support and Accountability, a support group run by the Mennonite Central Committee and funded through Corrections Services of Canada.
But Brodsky said Whitmore was still a potential threat to children and felt parents should have been warned. “Pedophelia remains one of the most difficult disorders in the books to treat,” he said.
Brodsky said he and all the members of the support group were stunned that Whitmore violated his release conditions. “Everybody is shocked.”