News Local

Woman has been to court nearly 20 times

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

A husband and wife hold hands after explaining how devastating it is to be a victim moving through Ontario’s justice system. The woman was sexually assaulted in November 2012. SARA ROSS QMI AGENCY

A husband and wife hold hands after explaining how devastating it is to be a victim moving through Ontario’s justice system. The woman was sexually assaulted in November 2012. SARA ROSS QMI AGENCY

Reliving her sexual assault as each court date nears is “destroying” a local woman.

“You get mentally prepared and, at the last minute, it’s pushed another month,” she said.

“To be told you’re not doing it knocks you back down.”

The woman, who is a personal support worker, was sexually assaulted by a regular client in November 2012.

She spoke to QMI Agency on a promise of anonymity.

A 54-year-old man, formerly living in Severn Township, has been charged with sexual assault.

He is also facing charges of assault with a weapon, assault and failure to comply with bail.

Only the sexual assault charge is connected to the personal support worker.

The man pleaded guilty to sexual assault on Dec. 11.

“After the guilty plea, it was a sigh of relief because he finally entered it and now we can deal with it,” she said.

But the man still hasn’t been sentenced.

On Aug. 12, the woman will have entered a Barrie courtroom 20 times in connection to her sexual assault. Five times she prepared to read her victim impact statement and was told the sentencing date was postponed.

“It’s his lawyer pushing it,” she said. “Obviously his lawyer isn’t doing his job. He keeps shoving it off.”

The lawyer’s excuses have ranged from being out of the country to not having time to update himself on the case, she said.

The experience has convinced the woman the court system needs a “massive change.”

“Protecting the criminals is destroying the victims,” she said.

The woman has not hired her own lawyer.

The stress of the ongoing case is straining the woman’s relationship with her husband.

“She has long enough (between court dates) to start acting like herself again before court starts coming up,” he said.

The woman said she needs the case to wrap-up in order to move on.

“I need that to be done so that aspect is behind me and I can focus on rebuilding us and me,” she said.

The husband said it’s hard to understand why the victim is being hurt again.

“They just keep pushing it with no regard to the victim,” he said. “This person has already pled guilty. There should be no messing around.”

The couple has attempted to contact Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop and Orillia OPP detachment commander Insp. Malcolm Quigley.

Quigley recommended the couple go through the proper channels to speak with him. They are currently gathering paperwork needed to discuss the issue with Quigley.

Stanton said he feels for the couple.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for them to go through that,” he said.

Stanton said, the justice system can seem to be a bulky, cumbersome process, especially to a victim.

The MP explained the Crown attorney must ensure it does everything properly to see the case to an end.

“What (the Crown attorneys) really want is justice in this case, as cumbersome and painstaking as it is. It does need to run its course,” Stanton said. “If there’s any hint of trying to circumvent that, it gives grounds for the defence then to essentially nullify the process.”

Dunlop added politicians cannot interfere with the justice system.

“It’s not part of our jurisdiction and we just don’t have that kind of influence, nor should we have that kind of influence,” he said. “That’s what makes Canada special is the politicians aren’t supposed to influence the judicial system in any way, including the timing of the hearings.”

Both politicians suggested the couple contact the ministry of the attorney general.

The couple said they have tried to speak with Barrie’s Crown attorney’s office. They have been told they are not allowed to, the husband said.

“Somebody needs to be a voice for the victims,” he said. “When you’re in a situation like this, it makes it feel like (the Crown doesn’t) care either.”

The Barrie Crown attorney’s office directed media enquires to Brendan Crawley, senior co-ordinator of media relations with the ministry of the attorney general.

QMI did not receive a response from the ministry of the attorney general’s office on Monday or Tuesday.

The woman hasn’t gone back to her home care job since being sexually assaulted.

“I go into people’s homes and I just can’t do that right now,” she said.

She would not say how she was assaulted.

The woman sees a psychiatrist weekly, has trouble handling her two male children and sometimes attacks her husband in the middle of the night.

“If I get too close when I’m sleeping, she’ll wake in a panic,” he said. “I get beaten pretty good sometimes at night.”

Recently, the woman’s six-year-old son suddenly hugged her from behind.

“I shoved him away,” she said. “It was that shock of being attacked again.”

The woman said there are moments she wishes she didn’t report the sexual assault.

“Not having to deal with the courts would be awesome,” she said.

But, knowing the Severn man could attack someone again “is heartbreaking,” she said.

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