Canada Grants Florida Mother Asylum To Avoid 30 Sentence For Unlawful Sexual Activity

article-2654144-1EA310DE00000578-174_634x449The United States has been widely criticized for sentences that continue to rise across the federal and state criminal codes. Politicians love to increase sentences to advance their public persona as “tough-on-crime” leaders. Now, Canada has granted a Florida mother asylum from the United States over what the immigration court viewed as an excessive sentence. Denise Harvey, 47, was convicted of five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor in 2008. The minor was the 16-year-old friend of her son. She and her family fled to Canada to avoid 30 years in jail for the sexual relationship.

Harvey was still on bail when she fled Florida where prosecutors insisted that a 30 year sentence was just. She was later arrested in Saskatchewan in April 2011.

She can now apply for Canadian citizenship.

The decision is highly unusual but offers a glimpse into the growing divide between the United States and other countries on sentencing. This was a despicable act but this was a consensual relationship with a boy who was two years away from the age of consent. Florida law states:

794.05 Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.–

(1) A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, “sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

The 30 year sentence in Florida is wildly out of sync with other states and countries. It is notable that this case follows another case before the Florida Supreme Court where prosecutors secured an 80 year sentence for a man who fired a gun four times in the air — or 20 years per bullet. The justices expressed doubt that they could do anything about the outrageously excessive sentence. It appears that Canada did not feel so constrained in the face of such sentencings.

Source: Daily Mail

46 thoughts on “Canada Grants Florida Mother Asylum To Avoid 30 Sentence For Unlawful Sexual Activity”

  1. Florida. For some reason I thought of Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, If the kid felt threatened he could shoot her but having sex with her is another matter altogether. A 30-year sentence is excessively harsh. Appears Canada has a more humane judicial system when it comes to the age of consent.

  2. AoC laws in this country are goofy. In some states, what she did would be perfectly legal, and that makes sense. 16 year-olds can end up in college courses with adults quite easily with a little extra work in plenty of states. If they can socialize with adults as a matter of normalcy, it’s goofy that we put up a wall in one specific way between them.

  3. To what actual extent is the notion of mens rea a purely psychotic delusion grounded entirely in the insane traumas of time-corrupted-learning mandated by socialization norms?

    (Note, I used “psychotic” as a biological (or medical?) term, and I used “Insane” as a legal term…)

  4. Methinks that, until individual humans successfully learn to understand themselves accurately, individual humans will be effectively incapable of accurately understanding other humans.

    Four books in my library come to mind, two of them published in 2014, and two older books that may provide useful background for the newer books.

    In chronological order:

    Robert Nola & Howard Sankey, “Theories of Scientific Method,” McGill-Queens University Press, 2007.

    Sidney Dekker, “Drift into Failure: From Hunting Broken Components to Understanding Complex Systems,” Ashgate, 2011.

    Robert Scaer, “The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease,” Routledge, 2014.

    Brian D.Haig, “Investigating the Psychological World: Scientific Method in the Behavioral Sciences,” The MIT Press, 2014.

    It may be useful to model a human person as a neural network and associated supporting tissues, the better to more accurately understand overt human conduct and the inner neurological conditions which generate overt conduct.

    I have made such an effort the core of my bioengineering work, developing sufficiently accurate understanding of the properties of neural networks in terms of adaptive response abilities to external and internal stimuli.

    That work has taken me to a scientifically testable, scientifically falsifiable if actually false, model of some particular aspects of the actual properties of neural networks. I am hardly the only theoretical biologist to make such an effort.

    The second, posthumous, edition of Robert Rosen, “Anticipatory Systems,” Springer, 2012, may provide a useful window into understanding neural networks as anticipatory systems which have the capacity to respond in advan ce, through anticipation,to events which have yet to happen. Such is the core nature of acts of prevention which actually function in a preventive manner.

    The efficacy of prevention as a strategy for adapting to a future event appears to me to depend very strongly on an accurate grasp of Bayesian priors as the only viable basis for anticipating a future event with a decent modicum of accuracy.

    For as long as crime prevention is based on using frequentist (non-Bayesian) statistics to predict future outcomes of future events, the intrinsic blindness to history of frequentist methodologies relentlessly precludes collecting sufficiently accurate Bayesian priors as to allow any preventive measures being undertaken which are effective other than by illusory correlations.

    The reason, as I observe it, that adversarial law and jurisprudence, over the many thousands of years of its being the primary theory-in-use for crime abatement appears to me to be its unrelenting reinforcement of the neural network mechanisms which preclude accurate determination of relevant priors.

    The adversarial system, in compounding its adversarial nature, appears to me to be hard at work making it its own greatest adversary. The five books mentioned in this comment provide, for me, a decent approach to an accurate grasp of the biology of criminal conduct, and a clear view of why the methods of the past have become woefully inadequate for a safe future for humanity.

    Perhaps Abraham Lincoln understood something useful; perhaps we need to set about to disenthrall ourselves from the tragic, viciously addictive, harmful errors of the past?

    How better to achieve that, if it be useful to achieve it, than by accurately understanding the biological foundation of human social and personal behavior?

    1. J. Brian – although you couch it in lovely scientific language, computer modeling for crime prediction has been very helpful. And unless you know the methodology they are using does not fit your bias, I am not sure you should go out on a limb.

  5. I agree 30 years is WAY too harsh a sentence. I’m not too comfortable saying this shouldn’t be a crime however.

  6. Paulette, We have discussed the disgusting SC Johnson case here previously. It is a perfect example of the two justice systems, one for regular folk, and one for the wealthy.

  7. I agree we are overwhelmed w/ draconian sentencing in this country. The age of consent will always be difficult since every kid is different. What is ironic is that we currently have a generation of adolescents that are much more advanced sexually, but are regressing in maturity. They don’t get driver’s licenses, they stay home and return home in much higher numbers. The sentence for this woman was unjust. A common sense solution would be for the court to reduce the sentence to maybe 3-5 years. I would also add a year for bail jumping. This won’t happen. So, it looks like she’ll remain in Canada. Maybe she can start a support group w/ Randy Quaid and his wife.

    1. Chuck Stanley
      The variances in laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction literally scream out, “arbitrary and capricious.”

      I think you are using literally wrong and what it what is does is show states’ rights.

  8. schulte: “I think it depends on who you murder. Arizona does have the death penalty.”

    Soooo what? Kill a white person, get the needle. Murder a Mexican. Five years?

  9. Cubs broadcasting legend, Jack Brickhouse, relates in his autobiography that his father was a 45 year old traveling salesman lodging overnight who shagged his mother when she was 15, and he seems to have not passed any moral judgement on his father; it was just one of those things.

    The point, for those with a Pollyannish view of former times and think society is going to hell in a handbasket, is that intergenerational sex relations have been going on since the dawn of time. Thirty years is a ridiculous sentence, but that’s Florida for you.

    1. RTC – it really would depend on the state Brickhouse’s father was in and the year as to whether it broke the law or not. When I was growing up, the state I lived in had an age of consent of 18 but NJ had an age of consent of 14.

  10. Paul,
    The real figure for full maturation of the tertiary areas of the brain is later than 23. Charlie Golden (developer of the Luria-Nebraska Neuropsychological Test Battery) once showed me some of his data suggesting it could the late 20s. I don’t really think that is relevant to the point at hand. Full brain maturation is not required to have sex.

    At any rate, it is beside the point. Different states have different laws regarding age of consent. As I pointed out, we are learning that by the time kids graduate from high school, there aren’t many virgins. The difference in this case is the fact the woman is older.

    As Benjamin Franklin wrote back in 1745 in his letter to a young friend, “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress,” Franklin pointed out that, “….in the dark all Cats are grey.”

    1. Chuck – that maturation of the brain has much to do with making valid decisions, hence age of consent laws. Using your Ben Franklin quote you are against age of consent laws?

  11. If you guys remember from my Memorial Day story, my ggg-grandfather was only a few weeks past his sixteenth birthday when he fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain, and barely seventeen when at Yorktown. He was hardly the first, nor the last. Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in the history of the US Army, was seventeen when he went to war during WW2.

    I learned to fly at that age. One of my sons soloed an airplane at a busy controlled airport just a few days after he was sixteen.

    If 16-year-olds can fight and die for this country, or learn to fly a complex airplane in controlled airspace, I am pretty sure most of them are competent to get laid. Happens every day anyway, the only difference being the age of “Mrs. Robinson,” instead of another teenager.

    1. Chuck – the age of consent is the age of consent. Certainly from reading in your field you should know that studies have shown that the brain does not fully mature until age 23. Arizona, a much hated state, has a provision that if you are within 2 years of the age of the underage person, no crime is committed as long as the sex is consensual.
      That is not the case here. She is 47, he is 16. If the sexes were reversed you would be having a heart attack.

      1. Paul Schulte wrote: “If the sexes were reversed you would be having a heart attack.”

        Good point, Paul, but 30 years? Even if the sexes were reversed, that is a bit harsh, don’t you think? Murderers and robbers get less time.

        1. david – I think it depends on who you murder. Arizona does have the death penalty.

          1. Paul, Florida has the death penalty too, but that does not apply to every murder. The average time served by murderers is much less than 30 years.

            “Offenders who have been sentenced to prison for murder or manslaughter will serve an average of 19.1 years in prison under the minimum 85% of sentence served policy compared to 13.1 years under the old parole system and 12.2 years when early prison release existed (chart 8).”


  12. I have always been uneasy with mandatory sentencing. Judges need more discretion. If I was on the jury, I would have argued with the other jury members toward jury nullification. The legislature also needs to wake up to the reality of our hedonistic culture.

  13. Lrobby99 – close only counts in horseshoes and hand-genades. She does the crime, she does the time.

  14. If the young man was 16 at the time, then he was less than 2 years from legal adulthood. Less than.

  15. I wonder if this might have been a factor:

    The extradition treaty between the U.S. and Canada has the following;

    Under the schedule for which offenses are extraditable there is section 6 of the crime schedule in the appendices:

    “6. Unlawful sexual acts with or upon children under the age specified by the laws of both the requesting and requested States. ”

    In this woman’s case the victim was 16 which makes it the felony in Florida but in Canada the age of consent is now 16. (Note that it was 14 until the law was changed in May of 2008 under the Tackling Violent Crime Act, but I don’t know when the offense by this woman was committed that year).

    My interpretation of the treaty is that because the age of consent in Canada is 16 the Requesting and Requested countries are not in agreement as if this is illegal in both nations.

    I don’t know if this was a factor during the extradition hearing but it seems to be there none the less.

  16. 30 years for something every 16 year old boy dreams about. Stupid, crazy, imbecilic.

Comments are closed.