Advocates For Sexual Assault Victims Encouraged By Ghomeshi Charges
By: Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press
Published: November 27, 2014
“Amanda Dale, executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic which supports women survivors of violence, says the legal deck is stacked in favour of the defendants in sexual assault cases.
The women who file complaints may approach police as victims of a crime, but are treated as mere witnesses to one once a trial gets under way.
Dale said defence lawyers typically make their cases by attacking the victim’s credibility, adding this approach is unique to sex-based charges.
“If I report a break-in at my house, they don’t ask me if my curtains were left open, if my stereo was too close to the window, if I enjoyed having my house broken into,” she said.
“That is how we approach the crime of sexual assault, and I cannot see…that anything is going to have changed by the time this comes to trial.”
Ellis concedes that it’s hard to obtain a sexual assault conviction, since defendants only need to establish reasonable doubt to walk free.
But she says any case that comes to trial should be viewed as a step forward and a chance to deepen public awareness around a complex subject.
Dale agrees, but hopes the high-profile nature of the Ghomeshi case won’t detract from the broader issues.
“It behooves us to look at the particularities of this scenario, learn from them, but not limit our learning to the facts of these particular cases.””
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