McKnight case reveals tricky issues yet to be resolved in sexual assault cases


Article content continued

But here is what Ontario Superior Court Justice William LeMay told a jury during instruction in a 2017 case:

“In particular, the myth that complainants in sexual assault cases have a higher tendency than other complainants to fabricate allegations based on ‘ulterior motives’ and are therefore less worthy of belief, is not supported by social science, the law or judicial experience. It is a myth.”

This is the frustrating part. Canada has some of the best criminal code provisions in the world protecting complainants, including a strict definition of consent, and a raft of legal precedents that decry reliance on myths and stereotypes. Yet they persist.

Crown prosecutors Mark Huyser-Wierenga (right) and Katherine Fraser speak to media after Matthew McKnight was sentenced to eight years in Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton, on Friday, July 31, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
Crown prosecutors Mark Huyser-Wierenga (right) and Katherine Fraser speak to media after Matthew McKnight was sentenced to eight years in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton, on Friday, July 31. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Speaking to reporters outside court after sentencing, Huyser-Wierenga referred to one particularly virulent myth — that real rapists are strangers who leap out from behind a bush, and not those who are known to their victims, as was the case with McKnight.

“That (a stranger rapist) is a true sexual offender, and sexual violence within an intimate partner relationship or sexual violence within the bar culture is not … that can have a deeply undermining impact on the criminal justice system in holding people appropriately accountable,” said Huyser-Wierenga.

According to Statistics Canada, only five per cent of sexual assault cases are ever reported, and of those, only 12 per cent result in a conviction. It is clear that the Canadian criminal justice system has a big problem when it comes to holding sexual assault offenders accountable.

tinyurlis.gdu.nuclck.ruulvis.netshrtco.de

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>