Advocates outraged by judge’s decision on rape victim560 views
Refusing to allow the Crown to read in court the impact statement of a rape victim is “disgusting,” a sexual assault victims’ advocate said Wednesday.
Danielle Aubry, executive director with Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, said Judge Terry Semenuk’s decision could have further victimized an already vulnerable person.
“It’s a violation of this young woman’s rights as a victim,” Aubry said, of the provincial court judge’s ruling to not allow the statement to be heard in open court.
“Victims do have rights in this country.”
On Tuesday, prosecutor Zailin Lakhoo told court the victim, who was 17 at the time she was kidnapped and repeatedly and brutally raped by two brothers, did not want to read the statement in herself, but wished the Crown to do so.
Semenuk questioned whether the prosecution had the authority to do so and was told the Criminal Code allowed it if the court considered it appropriate.
Semenuk didn’t, citing concerns it might impact a publication ban on the victim’s identity, preventing her abusers from hearing the effect they had on her.
The judge was hearing submissions on the sentencing of Corey and Cody Manyshots, who earlier pleaded guilty to four charges, including kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm, in connection with a Nov. 14, 2014, random attack on their victim.
The brothers grabbed the teenager at a northeast bus stop around 11:30 p.m. and forced her into an alley before both raped and sodomized her.
They then forced her to come with them to their Martindale home where they kept her for more than eight hours, taking turns raping and sodomizing her repeatedly.
Aubry said the judge’s ruling could have added to the victim’s trauma.
“People better recover from traumatic events when they’re empowered to make their own decisions,” she said.
But veteran defence lawyer Balfour Der, a former Crown prosecutor, defended Semenuk’s decision.
“This judge is actually correct in law in what he said,” Der said.
“There’s nothing that forces him to allow someone else to read it in court.”
Der said the purpose of such statements is for the judge to learn the impact the crime has had on the victim, not to make the offenders hear her voice.
“The misconception here is people are thinking this young lady’s victim impact statement isn’t going to the judge,” he said.
“It’s going to the judge whether it’s read (in court) or not, he’s marked it as an exhibit, that means he will consider it,” said Der.
“The concern that it’s not being read in front of the accused is another misconception because it’s marked as an exhibit, it’s there for them to see.” The Crown is seeking 12-year sentences for the brothers.
A date to continue their sentencing hearing will be set next week.
News Source Calgary Sun