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B.C. offender who sexually assaulted infant in Quesnel denied day parole

Convicted at age 15, Tara Desousa became Canada's youngest dangerous offender
The Parole Board of Canada once again denied parole to Tara Desousa on June 18, 2024. (Parole Board of Canada photo)

A B.C. dangerous offender who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an infant in 1997 has once again been denied day parole. 

Tara Desousa, now in her early 40s, was just 15 when she committed the offence against a 3.5-month-old boy she was babysitting in Quesnel. She was tried in adult court and became Canada's youngest dangerous offender. 

She was handed an indeterminate prison sentence in 1999 and stayed in male jails until 2016 when she underwent gender reassignment procedures and changed her name. 

Desousa has made countless requests for parole in the years since she was imprisoned, but all of them have been denied.

The Parole Board of Canada came to the same conclusion in its June 18 decision, citing an April 2024 Psychological Risk Assessments report that determined Desousa remains a high risk for "general, sexual and violent recidivism."

"The psychologist indicated that there is evidence you have made gains through program participation, cultural activities and mental health interventions; however, you continue to require a high level of guidance, structure and interventions to ensure you can manage your emotions, sexual impulses and regulate your behaviour," the parole board wrote. 

It added that additional reports suggest Desousa's risk for re-offending would increase if she had access to children or substances. 

The parole board also noted Desousa's behaviour within the prison.

"You have a history of disregarding institutional rules, being involved in the institutional drug subculture, having interpersonal conflicts with offenders, using disrespect and verbally aggressive language toward staff as well as using violence and inappropriate sexual behaviour."

Despite its parole denial, the board noted that Desousa has shown improvements in communicating with staff and engaging with the prison's Indigenous team to address her trauma and mental health. Desousa has also taken responsibility for her offence.

The board concluded Desousa needs a "gradual and highly structured release plan," and said the first step may be to plan some escorted temporary trips out of the prison. 



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