#childmolestor | U of W hired sex offender as criminal justice prof

An assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg was convicted of two child pornography offences dating back more than a decade, and was a registered sex offender at the time the school hired him.

Derek Spencer, who has used a variety of different names during the past decade, was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography in September 2007, the Free Press has learned.

Derek Spencer in photo announcing 2018 winners of the annual Faculty Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards and Faculty Excellence in Research Awards at the University of Winnipeg. (University of Winnipeg photo)

Spencer is currently on a leave of absence from the university. He did not return requests for comment.

Spencer was convicted of the possession charge in June 2010, and sentenced to nine months in jail and three years probation. At the time, he was 19 and living with family in Saskatoon. He was also ordered to spend 10 years on the sex offender registry and provide a sample of his DNA.

However, Spencer was acquitted on the second charge of distributing child pornography.

The case hinged on whether Spencer was aware the program LimeWire, which he used to obtain the child pornography, was a file-sharing service, according to court documents obtained by the Free Press.

After he was found not-guilty, the Crown appealed the verdict, eventually arguing the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

A second trial was ordered by the Supreme Court, and this time, Spencer was convicted of distributing child pornography in February 2015.

During the intervening years between being charged in 2007 and found guilty in 2015, Spencer pursued a post-secondary education. He received two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, before getting an LLM (an advanced law certification) from the University of Victoria.

The judge during the second trial noted Spencer had always conceded to possessing child porn, saying he’d been ashamed of his predilection for it, but had been unaware by using LimeWire he would effectively help distribute to others the same materials he downloaded.

When convicted of the distribution charge in 2015, Spencer was sentenced to an additional three months in jail (bringing his total time in custody up to the one-year minimum sentence for both offences) and had his time on the sex offender registry increased to 20 years from 10.

The judge during the second trial noted Spencer had always conceded to possessing child porn, saying he’d been ashamed of his predilection for it, but had been unaware by using LimeWire he would effectively help distribute to others the same materials he downloaded.

During his initial interrogation by the Saskatoon Police Service in September 2007, Spencer told investigators he had downloaded “a hundred images.”

“The other side of all this is, obviously, that you’re sharing it all, which is (what) makes it a hundred times worse, right?” said the police officer conducting the interrogation, according to court documents.

“Not only are you someone who is getting sexual joy and pleasure out of some child being raped, you were sharing that with everyone else.”

Derek Spencer in photo announcing new University of Winnipeg faculty members in 2017. (University of Winnipeg)

Derek Spencer in photo announcing new University of Winnipeg faculty members in 2017. (University of Winnipeg)

Spencer is mandated to be a registered sex offender until at least 2030, according to court documents obtained by the Free Press.

It remains unclear how he passed through the U of W’s vetting process, prior to being hired.

Court documents indicate his legal name as Matthew David Spencer. His subsequent academic research appears to have been predominantly published under the name Matthew Derek Spencer. On his U of W biographical page, he is referred to only as Derek Spencer.

On a website where post-secondary students can upload reviews of their professors, one student indicated Spencer had been hired by U of W roughly two years ago.

“New prof to (the university) but he seems to be doing OK. Haven’t written the final yet but I’m feeling confident,” the student wrote, in a post dated Dec. 18, 2017.

During his time at the university, Spencer has taught a number of classes, served as supervisor for students and has held a variety of academic posts on university committees.

During his initial interrogation by the Saskatoon Police Service in September 2007, Spencer told investigators he had downloaded “a hundred images.”

When reached for comment, Kevin Rosen, executive director of marketing and communications for U of W, confirmed Spencer was employed by the school, but declined further comment citing “privacy legislation.”

Rosen also provided a link to the U of W policy on criminal record and child abuse registry checks.

All U of W employees are required to undergo background checks if they will work with youth or students under the age of 18, or vulnerable people, according to the policy.

Some students at the U of W are 17 when they begin post-secondary education. A private university-preparatory high school, called University of Winnipeg Collegiate, is also located on campus. There is at least one daycare located on campus.

This isn’t the first time the university has been connected to a scandal in 2019. In July, it was revealed at least four women were accusing former University of Winnipeg Collegiate teacher Ishmael Mustapha of sexual misconduct. He’s been charged with sexually assaulting two of them.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @deanatlarge

Ryan Thorpe
Ryan Thorpe
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Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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