Investigation into systemic failures of alleged child sex assault in Kelowna remains ongoing

Dueck investigation ongoing

It's been more than three months since a convicted child sex offender allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old girl at a Kelowna equestrian centre, but it's still not clear how he was able to spend time at the facility while youth were there, in breach of his probation conditions, while he was supposed to be supervised.

Taylor Dueck, 29, was charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and breach of probation following an alleged Feb. 9 incident in the bathroom of a Kelowna equestrian facility. Dueck was under a three-year probation order when the alleged Feb. 9, 2024 incident occurred, having served a 12-month sentence for sexual interference of a person under 16 in 2020.

He had served a previous 4.5-year sentence for sexually assaulting four different teenage girls in 2014, including one incident where he threatened the teen with knife during the assault.

Dueck was prohibited from attending any place where young people were present while on probation, but police never informed the public of Dueck's release in the community. Yet it appears Dueck was allowed to attend the equestrian facility where a child was present, while an employee of a Community Living BC subcontractor who was meant to supervise Dueck allegedly sat in a car in the parking lot.

Premier David Eby called the incident a “massive failure of judgment” at every level, calling the subcontractor “obviously negligent and incompetent.”

Following Castanet's reporting on the incident, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth ordered an investigation.

“I am extremely concerned, in fact very angry over what has happened, that's why I have ordered an investigation for a full accounting of what took place — involving all provincial agencies and federal agencies and officials that were involved in this situation," Farnworth said back in late February.

"I want to ensure that there were not systems failures. I want to ensure that everything that should have been done was done, because quite frankly this should never happen.”

In a statement from Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General spokesperson Chris Donnelly, he says the results of the investigation are “expected to be released in the coming months.”

“Whatever action is needed based on the recommendations of this investigation, BC Corrections and other partners and agencies will take steps to ensure this can never happen again,” Donnelly said.

The investigation is being undertaken by the Investigations Standards Office, which is a part of the Ministry of Attorney General.

“This independent oversight role in another Ministry is similar to the function that the Independent Investigations Office plays in relation to police related incidents in our province,” Donnelly said. “The Investigation by ISO is currently underway, we are unable to comment further during an active investigation.”

It's still not clear why the public was not informed about Dueck's release into the community, despite a notification having been sought by police.

"I can now confirm that a [public information disclosure] was sought by the Kelowna RCMP prior to his release in Kelowna, however, the threshold was not met in this case based on the totality of the circumstances," Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Michael Gauthier said back in February.

The owner of the equestrian facility told Castanet she was not informed about Dueck's long history of violent sexual offending.

"Horrific. One of the most horrific moments in my life. A little girl got hurt here," the owner said in March. "Had I been given all the facts and allowed to make a decision, I would have said no."

Dueck remains behind bars after he was denied bail in March. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 7.

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