While free on bail, a Florida woman took off to Canada after being convicted in 2008 for having sex with her son's 16-year-old friend. Denise Harvey, 47 appealed to Canadian authorities for asylum after police tracked her down in April 2011, arguing the 30-year sentence she received was cruel and unusual.


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Harvey has now been granted refugee status and can apply for permanent residency. She fled her Florida home with her husband and son and is living in Saskatchewan.

More background below from the National Post:

The Immigration and Refugee Board initially granted asylum to Ms. Harvey. In federal court documents, the board notes that there was no evidence that the sex was not consensual. The physical relationship was only illegal because of the age difference, the documents state.

The IRB decided Ms. Harvey was facing cruel and unusual punishment by Canada’s standards, which was also in disregard, it said, of ‘‘accepted international standards.’’

In Florida, it is illegal for a person over the age of 24 to have sex with a person 16 or younger. In Canada, the age of consent is 16. If the accused is in a position of trust or authority, the age of consent is 18.

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration then appealed to the Federal Court of Canada to overturn the decision. In a decision released in July, 2013, the appeal was granted and Ms. Harvey lost her refugee status.

The judge in the appeal case ruled the IRB had not provided adequate reasoning explaining why Ms. Harvey’s sentence contravened international standards. “We do not know which of Ms. Harvey’s arguments on the question of ‘accepted international standards’ were or were not accepted and why that was,” wrote Justice Anne Mactavish.

This federal court decision cleared the way for a new IRB hearing.

Alexis Pavlich, spokesperson for Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said the government’s position in the case is clear, noting it had appealed the ruling.

“Our Conservative government is committed to keeping Canada’s streets and communities safe for all Canadians, particularly for those who are most vulnerable – children,” she said.

Nikki Robinson, a Florida assistant state attorney who was a prosecutor on Ms. Harvey’s original case, said Ms. Harvey entered Canada illegally as a convicted sex offender.

“It is incomprehensible to me that Canada would grant her any type of immigration relief under these circumstances,” she said in an email to the National Post.

Barry Golden, senior investigator with the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Miami, Fla., said Ms. Harvey’s case will remain open in the U.S.

“If she does come back to the States there will be an active arrest warrant for her,” he said.

On Outnumbered this afternoon, the panel - including today's #oneluckyguy Jesse Watters - weighed in on the case. Calling to mind previous arguments on the show involving Tucker Carlson, Watters argued that the 30 years seems a bit harsh, pointing out that it could be the result of a mandatory minimum.

Watters said it's a "serious crime" that he doesn't want to diminish, but "if you're a 16-year-old kid and you have sex with your best friend's mom, you usually get high fives."

"What if this was your mother?!" asked Anna Kooiman.

Jedediah Bila expressed concern over the message that it sends that criminals can flee the U.S. to other countries and hope to avoid justice.

Watch the full segment above.


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