Pedophile whose sex crimes began in Barrie in 1976 declared dangerous offender

·4 min read

Editor's note: The following story contains details contained in court documents which may be offensive to some readers.

A 62-year-old man with a long record of sexual offences involving children dating back to a 1977 — including a conviction of sexual interference involving a five-year-old girl in Barrie — has been declared a dangerous offender.

Walter Starnaman was convicted of one count each of sexual interference and sexual assault involving a 10-year-old girl, which led to the recent designation.

The Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa heard he had befriended the girl’s mother and offered himself as a babysitter. While supervising the child at his apartment, Starnaman would invite her into his bed and rub her genital area over her clothing.

“The totality of the evidence made it crystal clear that Mr. Starnaman pursued a friendship with (the mother) in order to gain access to (the girl). His present position that he was merely trying to kindle a romantic relationship with (the mother) and that is how he came to be coincidentally babysitting (the girl) is simply untrue,” Justice Kevin B. Phillips wrote in his decision released March 31.

In the written decision, Phillips listed the offences chronologically, which began with the Barrie convictions and continued in different communities.

In 2009, the sexual touching of a nine- or 10-year-old girl dating back to 1977 in Orillia was revealed. The following year, in 1978 also in Orillia, Starnaman had intercourse with a 13-year-old girl with whom he was “dating." He was eight years older than her.

His criminal record of sexual offences involving girls, which eventually progressed to rape, accumulated as he travelled to Brampton, Toronto, Scarborough in the 1980s and early 1990s when he was finally held under the Mental Health Act.

During a search of Starnaman's penitentiary cell in 1993, authorities found news clipping of children winning sports awards and a list of names, ages and addresses of single mothers and their children in the Kingston, Amherstview and Toronto areas. They also found drugs and a weapon during the search.

From 1994 to 2008, Starnaman was held under the Mental Health Act, according to the judge’s summary, and taken to a variety of psychiatric institutions, but didn’t want to initiate assessment or treatment, blaming “most recent victim for his current problems,” the judge indicated in the summary, quoting from the treatment notes.

A diagnosis of pedophilia emerged from phallometric testing in 1995.

While being moved from a Penetanguishene facility to the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in 1997, pornographic tapes and magazines were confiscated, including photographs of children.

At the Forensic Assessment Unit at Royal Ottawa Hospital in 2007, Starnaman admitted having had a past sexual interest in children that he said he no longer has. He also complied with treatment with Lupron to reduce his sex drive.

He was released into the community in 2008 under a bond in which his activities were restricted.

A treatment note in 2011, after his bond expired, indicated “still shows indication of pedophilia.” Another the following year reads: “He agrees he should not be alone with children to avoid false accusations.”

In 2016, he was arrested on the charges that would later result in his dangerous-offender designation in Ottawa. Starnaman denied the accusation, indicating to a doctor in 2017 that he no longer had sexual interest in children.

“Sexual abuse of children is inherently violent and likely to cause severe psychological damage,” the judge declared in the sentencing decision.

Since Starnaman was first charged in 1976, the decision also noted that the longest unsupervised period Starnaman went without sexually abusing a child was the three-and-a-half years between September 2011 to May 2015.

“He went to considerable lengths to engineer a situation where he would have access to a young female child, and then took advantage of that situation multiple times," the decision says.

“This was not a flare-up or an unforeseeable one-off scenario that just came by and overwhelmed the man’s defences. This was misconduct that occurred as a result of significant planning and deliberation. He spent a lot of effort trying to get himself a child to babysit.”

Starnaman is expected to return to court May 14 for specific sentencing as a dangerous offender.

Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com