|Pastor Who Molested U.S. Child Coming Back to Canada
By Jason Van Rassel
March 26, 2009
CALGARY -- A retired Calgary pastor who claimed he was sexually harassed by a four-year-old girl he molested is on parole and slated for deportation back to Canada.
Kenneth Cooke, 74, was released Thursday from a jail in Dixon County, Illinois, but went right back behind bars when U.S. immigration authorities arrested him pending a deportation hearing.
"Mr. Cooke was turned over to our custody [Thursday] and he will be placed in our removal process," said immigration enforcement spokesman Tim Counts.
Officials have not set a date for Mr. Cooke's hearing before a U.S. federal immigration judge.
The deportation process can take "a few weeks, a few months or a few years" due to a lengthy appeal process, Mr. Counts said.
Although Mr. Cooke's intentions aren't known, he fought extradition to the United States when the allegations against him surfaced in 2007, and sources familiar with the case said they don't expect him to oppose his deportation back to Canada.
Mr. Cooke pleaded guilty in November 2007 to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13 years old.
Mr. Cooke's relatives were babysitting the four-year-old victim in June 2003 when he molested her while visiting their home in a bedroom community northwest of Chicago.
Despite pleading guilty, Mr. Cooke blamed the child for acting provocatively toward him.
"On a couple of times, I thought I was being sexually harassed. I think there is psychological evidence today that children, even in their younger years, could become interested in sex," Mr. Cooke said during his sentencing hearing.
Mr. Cooke's lack of remorse still angers people who know the family of the girl he molested.
"To this day, he still believes he's innocent. It's ridiculous," said a friend of the victim's family, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"She's getting better, but it's traumatic when people hear he's being released, because it brings it all back."
Although the conditions of Cooke's sentence place him under supervision in Illinois until March 2011, it's not clear if he will be subject to any parole regulations once he returns to Canada.
The prospect that he might not troubles a family friend of the victim, who noted Alberta has nothing like the searchable online registry in Illinois that lists the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders.
"I'm a father. I would want to protect my kids," said the man.
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