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Edmonton police warn vigilante action against man accused of sexual assault ‘will not be tolerated’

A file photo of an Edmonton Police Service badge. The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon

Two days after issuing a warning to the public about a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young girl getting released on bail, the Edmonton Police Service issued a new warning Friday night aimed at anyone looking to harm the man.

“The Edmonton Police Service issued a warning to the public on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in relation to the release of Mr. Wade Stene,” police tweeted Friday night. “The intent of releasing the information was to enable citizens to take suitable precautionary measures and was not intended to encourage any form of vigilante action.

“We want to remind everyone this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. As a police service, we are focused on the safety and well-being of everyone in Edmonton. Thank you for your understanding.”

Two days after issuing a warning to the public about a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young girl getting released on bail, the Edmonton Police Service issued a new warning Friday night aimed at anyone looking to harm the man. CREDIT: Twitter/@edmontonpolice

Stene has yet to see his case go to trial. He is charged with kidnapping and sexual assault in connection with the abduction of an eight-year-old girl in west Edmonton in March.

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On Wednesday, police issued a news release and said they believe Stene “poses a significant risk of harm to the community, particularly against individuals under the age of 16” and said it was their duty to warn the public.

The family of the victim issued a statement this week to voice their outrage that Stene could get out on bail, and members of the McQueen neighbourhood where police said Stene will be residing expressed shock and fear about the development as well.

READ MORE: Family of Edmonton girl kidnapped, sexually assaulted outraged after accused gets bail 

Stene’s release comes with conditions, including that he must wear a tracking bracelet on his ankle, stay at home 24 hours a day, have any travel for medical or legal appointments approved by his bail supervisor and that he not have any contact with anyone under the age of 18.

He is also not allowed to buy, possess or consume any alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances.

Earlier this week, police removed social media posts about their warning after they said the warning resulted in people making “extreme comments” on social media.

Tom Engel, the chair of the policing committee of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, said he believes police should be investigating all the violent threats that emerged on social media after they issued the warning.

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Stene’s lawyer, Mark Jordan, told Global News this week that his client is presumed innocent until a judge says otherwise and noted that Stene has no criminal record.

“He’s concerned and he has rightful reason to be concerned, because if you go through some of the posts that people have made on the Edmonton Police Service [social media] post, people are threatening his life,” Jordan said.
Click to play video: 'Man accused of sexually assaulting young Edmonton girl out of jail' Man accused of sexually assaulting young Edmonton girl out of jail
Man accused of sexually assaulting young Edmonton girl out of jail – Jun 18, 2020

On June 22, the ministry of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General provided the following statement on the matter:

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“In this matter, at both the bail hearing and bail review, the Crown advanced all evidence available and did everything they could to ensure the accused was not released back into the community. The decision to release the accused, and under what conditions, was made solely and independently by a Court of Queen’s Bench justice. While Albertans do not always agree with independently made judicial decisions, we have to abide by them. This case remains before the courts, and the Crown is continuing to review all options.”

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