Cape Town 13-10-2011 Convicted sex offender William John Creasey outside the Wynberg Sewing centre where he teaches art under the name Paul Hamilton here he chats to Cape Argus reporter Fatima picture Leon Müller reporter Fatima Schroeder
Cape Town 13-10-2011 Convicted sex offender William John Creasey outside the Wynberg Sewing centre where he teaches art under the name Paul Hamilton here he chats to Cape Argus reporter Fatima picture Leon Müller reporter Fatima Schroeder

‘You are William Creasey’

By Fatima Schroeder Time of article published Oct 14, 2011

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A CAPE Argus investigation has established that a former art teacher and convicted sex offender has changed his name and advertised art classes for children on Gumtree.

In the advert he calls himself Paul Hamilton, but his real name is William John Creasey, who spent an effective six years in jail for committing sexual offences against children.

Most of his victims were boys aged older than 12.

Police believed that Creasey had been photographing and sexually assaulting boys for more than two decades.

However, several cases did not reach the courts because they went back more than 20 years.

In 2004, Creasey was convicted of 13 charges, including sexual assault (then known as indecent assault), committing an indecent act with someone under the age of consent, and contravention of the Film and Publications Act.

He was released on parole in 2009.

But his parole has come to an end and he is now a free man.

The Gumtree advert offered “art classes for kids” and said he was willing to do “one on one private tutoring”.

The cellphone number in the advert was also found on another internet advert for jobs as a house sitter.

During the police investigation of Creasey they received information that he had molested children at homes where he house-sat. The Cape Argus has established that he printed flyers advertising house-sitting services.

The voicemail linked to the same cellphone number says: “Hi, you have reached John the house sitter and Paul Hamilton, art teacher.” An internet search of the name Paul Hamilton shows there is an artist of that name in the US.

The Cape Argus confronted Creasey outside the Wynberg Sewing Centre yesterday, where he teaches art to adults.

When asked why he used another name, Creasey said he painted under the name Paul Hamilton and that he had been doing it “for years”.

“That’s all there is to it,” he said.

He said he did not teach children and “will never teach children”.

However, the Cape Argus confronted him with the information provided by Fiona Craven (name has been changed) and another woman that he had made arrangements to teach their children.

He responded: “I don’t have to discuss this with you. I think I will be seeking legal advice on this.”

The Cape Argus first learnt of the name change from one of Creasey’s former victims, Sid Coleman.

In addition, the news of his name change was posted on two separate Facebook pages as an alert.

Coleman heard about it from Craven, who told him that Creasey had advertised art classes at Wynberg Library.

Coleman immediately contacted the police, but was told that there was nothing they could do until they had proof that Creasey had committed an offence against a child.

Craven called “Hamilton”, pretending to be interested in classes for her 13-year-old son.

He advised her to arrange for a group of four children and to then contact him.

Coleman also contacted “Hamilton” about classes for adults and established that he operated from a studio at the sewing centre. He immediately recognised the voice as Creasey’s.

“The following night I parked in a concealed place (close to the sewing centre) and took photos of ‘Paul Hamilton’ opening (the gate) and greeting his students,” Coleman said.

Through his observation, he confirmed that Creasey and Hamilton were the same man.

After conducting a records search on Creasey, the Cape Argus established that he lived at a block of flats in Wynberg, across the road from the sewing centre and within walking distance of at least eight schools.

The Cape Argus kept him under surveillance and observed him walking to a local shopping centre.

On the way to and back from the centre, he stopped outside Timour Hall Primary School and observed pupils for a short while.

About two weeks after Coleman called him, a Cape Argus reporter made contact with “Hamilton”, posing as a mother of two boys, aged nine and 13.

He responded that two other mothers were interested in classes for their children and said he would contact them and make the necessary arrangements.

One of the mothers was Craven.

He made a loose arrangement to have a trial class on October 1, but later called to say he would be available only later in the year or next year.

The other mother, Ronel Keen, (name changed), confirmed that she had an arrangement with him to teach her 13-year-old son.

When she was presented with a picture of Creasey, she confirmed

that it was the same man and that she knew him as Paul Hamilton. She said she did not respond to his advert and that he had offered to teach her son after she casually told him her son had an interest in art.

Creasey asked both Craven and Keen to make the necessary arrangements with each other and contact him later.

He said he would be available later in the year to teach the boys and offered to give Craven’s son pointers in the interim.

The initial Gumtree advert was removed in August and replaced with one offering classes for “beginners”.

The Cape Argus has an extract of the initial advert.

Earlier this month the word “beginners” was removed from the advert.

While Creasey has not broken any laws by placing the advert, experts have described his behaviour as a red flag.

Lieutenant Colonel Jan Swart, who investigated Creasey in 2002, said: “There’s no problem with him walking free. But there is a problem with him attempting to be in charge of children without making a disclosure.”

Offenders take a long time to befriend victims before they strike, Swart said, adding that he was concerned that Creasey did not decline a request for art classes for children.

“The potential for it getting out of control is there. It’s very real.”

He said experts testified during the trial that Creasey had a weakness for young boys.

For this reason he should know that he should not place himself in a position in which he would have access to children.

“If we expected him to know then, should we have higher expectations now? He’s orchestrated things now, knowing where it could possibly lead,” Swart added.

‘Children come first’

WILLIAM Creasey may have served his time, but his rights to privacy and to teach art are trumped by the rights of the children he plans to teach, says a top city lawyer.

Paul Hoffman SC, of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said a child’s best interests were of paramount importance.

William Booth, chairman of the Law Society of SA’s criminal committee, said that while Creasey’s current behaviour was suspicious, he had not committed a criminal offence.

In terms of the constitution, Booth said, victims of crime, the community and offenders had the right to be protected. But rights had limitations.

“It’s a question of balancing these rights… There is no hard and fast rule.”

Booth said an offender could not be held responsible for his previous offences for ever, but the public also had the right to know who Creasey really was, especially because someone might send their children to him for lessons.

Hoffman said a member of the public did not need to wait for harm to be done. “You are entitled to seek a suitable interdict if there is a reasonable apprehension of harm.

…So his rights to privacy and to teach art are trumped by the paramountcy of the rights of children.”

‘Parents have a right to know’

PARENTS have the right to know who is teaching their children, say child right’s activists and experts – and that goes for private tutors and coaches, too.

And they have warned that sex offenders can’t be rehabilitated, describing William Creasey’s decision to work under a different name as “suspicious”.

Rosa Bredekamp, a counselling psychologist experienced in dealing with sex offenders, said: “We are not saying that he is going to reoffend. But it looks like there might be those intentions. Why has he changed his name?”

But, she said, there were ways of preventing reoffending and suggested that legislators take a fresh look at the law.

While sex offenders received treatment in prison, additional treatment was important after their release back into society.

She said this was necessary for the safety of the public and the offender.

Marcel Londt, who evaluated Creasey and offers a sex offenders rehabilitation programme, said she was concerned that Creasey’s behaviour might be “grooming” (recruitment or selection), which is when a paedophile or sex offender promotes himself as an upstanding member of society and showcases his worth in the eyes of the public, or the child and family.

Londt said grooming was not a crime but rather a “red flag for the sex offender who is not appropriately monitored in the community”.

But Creasey’s decision to remove an ad from Gumtree on which he advertised classes for children could mean that he had changed his mind about interacting with them.

Patric Solomons of child rights NGO Molo Songololo said perhaps authorities could find a solution in the Children’s Act to have Creasey and other child sex offenders declared unsuitable to work with kids.

Solomons also said parents who arranged private classes for their children had every right to request the tutor’s details and ask police to check if the person’s name appeared on the register of sex offenders.

In the first phase of the register, the Department of Justice capturing cases from June 2009.

Older cases will be captured next year.

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