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Dispute erupts at rights group for fathers

    NATIONAL POST
   
March 30, 2001
   

Dispute erupts at rights group for fathers

Board resigns: Sex offender quits as vice-president of organization

Donna Laframboise

National Post

John Lehmann, National Post


Louise Malenfant says dispute has hurt reputation of the group.

The board of directors of a Calgary fathers' rights group resigned en masse this week after a sister organization failed to eject from its midst a man who holds a criminal record for sexually exploiting a minor.

The Equitable Child Maintenance and Access Society (ECMAS) is Alberta's largest non-custodial parents' lobby group. It was founded in Edmonton in 1992 and has sister organizations in Calgary, Lethbridge and Fort McMurray. Over the years, the group has provided support to thousands of embattled divorced parents -- mostly fathers -- who have been denied access to their children, ordered to pay unreasonable amounts of child support or been falsely accused of sexual abuse.

At its annual general meeting on March 12, ECMAS Edmonton alarmed the Calgary group by electing Paul Adams as vice-president. In 1996, Mr. Adams, a practising lawyer, was arrested after he approached one of his clients, a 16-year-old prostitute, for sex. He pleaded guilty, received a 15-month conditional sentence and was disbarred in 1998.

This past weekend, after the National Post began investigating, ECMAS Edmonton voted to accept Mr. Adams' resignation as vice-president, but turned down a proposal to eject him from the organization altogether.

However, the Calgary group felt ECMAS Edmonton should have cut all ties to Mr. Adams. "We believe it is totally inappropriate to have sex with minors," ECMAS Calgary told the Post last week. On Wednesday, it further advised: "Effective as of noon today we have disassociated ourselves and our group ... from the ECMAS trade name and advanced our resignations as directors."

Mr. Adams' disbarment was unanimously upheld by three Alberta Court of Appeal judges in September, 2000. Noting that his arrest occurred only two years after a previous prostitution-related offence (to which he pleaded guilty in December, 1994, and obtained an absolute discharge), the judges' ruling says: "Adams, twice the age of his young client, and fully aware of her strong desire to have her boyfriend released from jail, persuaded her to have sex with him."

Mr. Adams said in an e-mail that his legal background allows him to make a valuable contribution to ECMAS Edmonton.

"The hours I have volunteered have increased dramatically ... at all hours of the day and night to very desperate and broke people that need our help and support. Am I forever a piriah (sic) -- I have accepted responsibility for my actions, paid my debt to society and performed thousands of hour of unpaid community service and lived a relatively trouble free life" since 1996.

In the words of one ECMAS Edmonton member, who asked not to be identified, the group provides a valuable service that is being threatened by Mr. Adams' presence. Many of the people who attend the weekly support meetings, "are beaten up. They are beaten up so bad I have to fight back tears because there's some guys I've seen walk in there that are ready to put a bullet in their head." After Mr. Adams was voted in as vice-president, this man says his own reaction was: "Are you guys nuts?"

Louise Malenfant, a community activist in Edmonton who has helped dozens of such men clear their names after being falsely accused of sex offences during divorce proceedings, says ECMAS Edmonton is squandering its hard-won reputation by associating with Mr. Adams.

"It's heartbreaking that this group, which has such a noble and respected history, has come to this," she says. "The falsely accused want nothing to do with people who have 'liberal' views about sex with young people." Ms. Malenfant says she made repeated attempts in recent months "to convey my concerns about Mr. Adams to the leadership, and the response of the group was to allow him to stand as vice-president, and to vote him into that office."

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Posted 2001 02 09


Parents Helping Parents

Louise Malenfant

malenfant.jpg (2818 bytes)

Family Advocate, Parents Helping Parents

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Louise Malenfant passed away in 2006.  She is being missed.

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