Right on Wong
Anyone tired of Christie Blatchford's healthy dollops of sentiment in the Globe and Mail ought to check out Jan Wong's recent column on the Cecilia Zhang investigation.
Wong rightly asks the question, what-the-hell have investigators been doing for the past five months?
Who Killed Theresa?
Ce blogue est une investigation de le meurtre de ma soeur, Theresa Allore. Il y a 30 ans Theresa est mort aux secteurs de Compton, Sherbrooke et Lennoxville, Québec.
Life isn't fair, Justice is blind... and dysfunctional, and some cops aren't smart and dedicated like on tv.
Si vous avez information contact Sue Sutherland: CP 45 Succursale Lennoxville, Sherbrooke J1M 1Z3,Canada:firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 514-264-7830
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Right on Wong
Toronto The Stupid
Geezer Cop Bagged for Drug Peddling
A 59-year-old Constable with Toronto's Peel Regional Police has been arrested for selling drug property from the force's evidence room.
When arrested, 29-year veteran Martin Goold - who is one week from retirement - was carrying 6 kilos of cocaine in the trunk of a Cadillac.
Oooh, Constable Goold was livin' the life!
Dare I mention that the Peel Regional Police is the same outfit heading up the Cecilia Zhang investigation...
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
My Happy Thought For The Day
My father - of all people - suggested to me that the police might wish to exhume my sister's body to look for forensic evidence that might not have been detected 25 years ago.
It is a little bizarre to call up the Surete du Quebec and grant them permission to dig up your sister's corpse, but I finally worked up the nerve and did it.
The SQ informed me that they had considered doing this, but pathologists finally concluded it wouldn't yield anything. I suggested that it might be worth it if only to check the fingernails for evidence. Then they informed me that there were no fingernails: at the time of recovery, the body was so putrified as to make any efforts of evidence recovery impossible.
Monday, March 29, 2004
The Medium's Very Bad Message
Last week, the female student who was raped last November in a storage closet at the University of Saskatchewan decided to drop charges in the case. The local paper, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix was the first to pounce; publishing the following article, that was promptly pulled from their website:
Campus rape probe dropped
Woman denies story fabricated
Darren Bernhardt of The StarPhoenix
The young woman who claimed to have been the victim of a vicious sexual assault on the University of Saskatchewan campus last November has asked police to halt their investigation.
Police and university officials won't say why the woman has suddenly withdrawn her complaint. In an interview with The StarPhoenix on Monday, the woman, Carol (not her real name), denied rumours sweeping the university that the assault allegation was a fabrication, claiming the police have DNA evidence from her attacker.
"It's been through the data bank and everything. The police are the ones who told me there is DNA," she said. Carol said she told the investigating officer Thursday to close the case because she "can't live with this anymore -- the badgering and everything else from the police." She wouldn't elaborate on what she meant.
"I really don't want to comment, I'm sorry," she said. "I just want it to go away. I can't handle it. I need to go on with my life."
No charges or arrests were ever made in relation to the incident "and nobody was ever identified as a suspect or someone responsible," noted Saskatoon police Staff Sgt. Kelly Cook. He confirmed a letter was sent to the U of S to inform officials that the investigation was over. He wouldn't comment on whether police are looking into the rumours that the assault allegation was false. "Of course, in any investigation, if evidence supports something other than the original allegations, that would be looked at," Cook said.
Carol was 22 on Nov. 28 last year when she claimed to have been attacked in the Arts Building washroom between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. while at the university studying for exams. At a press conference held shortly after the alleged assault, a statement was read out on her behalf by her mother, Marilyn. The statement said that Carol suffered a broken wrist, marks on her neck, vaginal bleeding and had her fingernails ripped off during the struggle with her attacker. She had been wearing acrylic nails at the time of the alleged assault, her mother told The StarPhoenix on Monday.
Carol's mother continues to stand by her daughter. "Now she understands why victims don't report (incidents to the police). It hasn't been a good experience," Marilyn said. "Her sergeant (the investigating officer) was wonderful but the process -- the whole entire system -- wasn't good. But she definitely didn't make this up."
Marilyn refused to explain what problems her daughter had encountered. She said Carol began term two of the university year in January 2004, but was two days into it when she decided she couldn't take it and left. "She's hoping to continue her education again in September at another university."
Carol's complaints have engulfed the U of S in an atmosphere of apprehension. Subsequent pressure by students and the community prompted the university to launch an external review of all safety and security measures, which is still underway.
Tina Merrifield, senior communications officer at the U of S, said on Monday the university remains committed to moving forward with those initiatives, regardless of the reasons Carol dropped her complaint. Merrifield wouldn't say anything about the incident or Carol's change of heart.
Carol's accusations came on the heels of an attack that occurred that summer at the Little Stone School House on campus. An 18-year-old woman was there working alone during the day and managed to fight off her attacker. A man was arrested the following day while vandalizing a women's washroom on campus. He was charged with sexual assault and vandalism and is currently awaiting trial.
After Carol's alleged attack, university officials came under heavy criticism from students for not making the campus safer after the first incident. Some complained of a "complete unwillingness on the part of the university to recognize that there's a problem and to try to deal with it." Campus security stepped up hallway patrols after the second incident, but some students said it was too late and that their confidence and feeling of security had been shattered.
The public outcry was immediate:
Story shows why women avoid reporting rape
Saturday, March 27, 2004
I cannot even begin to express the outrage that I have because of the story Campus rape probe dropped (SP March 23) concerning the rape on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
Your coverage of the event has been appalling. The story of the vicious attack made the third page when Posh Spice was on the cover for wearing a vintage U of S sweatshirt. But now that the victim wants to heal and move on with her life, you carefully, so as not to open yourselves up for lawsuits, hint that she fabricated the event.
If the police believed that, she would have been charged with filing a false report.
Instead, you have victimized and traumatized her all over again. Your coverage is inexcusable and disgusting.
It reaffirms for me why so many victims of sexual assault do not come forward, because when they do they are forced to relive the trauma again and again.
You should be ashamed.
Coverage of rape story irresponsible
Saturday, March 27, 2004
I am extremely disgusted with the reporting practices of The SP. The manner in which the story Campus rape probe dropped (SP March 23) was fashioned -- by consistently using forms of the word "claim" -- clearly suggested that the victim of this assault made up these events.
Additionally, while the original reporting (in November) of this violent sexual assault was relegated to the less-than important pages of The SP, the obvious questioning of the validity of this event has been boldly plastered on the front page.
Let me assure you, as a close friend of the victim, this assault was very real and did happen.
It is important to note that The SP will not have to deal with the vile after-effects of this rape, while the courageous survivor will continue to experience lifelong ramifications.
The newspaper has handled this irresponsibly. This clearly demonstrates why very few women report being sexually assaulted.
And her is my two-cents on the subject:
To Steven Gibb -Editor, Saskatchewan Star Phoenix:
I find your publication of the story about the rape victim at the University of Saskatchewan irresponsible and distasteful. As the brother of a young woman who was sexually assaulted and murdered at a Canadian university, and who similarly had her name and reputation dragged through the mud by local press, I find your actions deeply disturbing.
I really don't think you realize the extent of the damage you've caused. I know this woman "Carol". I have been working with her since January trying to assist her in summoning the courage to face her detractors.
And now this.
Where was your voice when it was needed? Why not focus on the fact that this woman managed to pull together a petition of over 1,000 signatures, and made the University hold a public forum on student safety? - a forum which forced the University to conduct an independent safety audit. You alone are not to be blamed; this is symptomatic of the Canadian press. Last month I tried to drum-up interest in Carol's story from several CanWest papers, including your own - I was either shut down or ignored; the general sentiment being that student rapes "didn't play to your readership."
Yet false allegations that a victim lied, this is newsworthy?
You people in the media, you never change. You like your victims packaged a certain way. In your world victims are either pathetic and supplicant, or they "asked for it", got what we deserved... or they're liars.
You just don't know how to write about a person like Carol - a victim with courage, and the conviction to intelligently express her anger and frustration. She deserved better than this.
I understand Mr. Bernhardt is attending a seminar on Monday on the topic of journalistic integrity. Tell him to bring an umbrella. Better yet, tell him to apologize.
It Happens Every Spring
Forget hope springs eternal, this time of year always gives me the willies.
Last week I reported on the 26th and 27th anniversaries of the discoveries of the bodies of Manon Dube and Louise Camirand. In a couple of weeks I'll mark the 25th anniversary of the discovery of my sister's corpse. Now Cecilia Zhang is recovered in Mississauga. There will be time to ask why police for five months continued to believe that Cecilia was being held captive for ransom.
For now it is late March in Canada - the melting snow has exposed another tragedy.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Guest post from Marjean
This coming Thursday I am doing a presentation for a group in Abbotsford who volunteer to help support offenders in the community. They are training some new volunteers and I sort of challenged this group a while ago to add a victims component to their training. It is a church based group and the naivety of some of these people can be something else. One time I was talking with someone who was thinking of volunteering with offenders and when I asked her why she said that she saw a certain kind of "innocence" in someone that has been incarcerated for 20 years.
Advocates for offenders' rights have somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 active volunteers and have had as many as 400 over the last year. And that is just one group here on the lower mainland of BC - There are many other church-based support groups for offenders who get all kinds of church and government money.
Try to find just a handful of volunteers who will work with victims. Money available? - not a chance. The only group I know of in all of Canada is Wilma Derksen's Victims Voice, and you can bet she does not have a budget to train and coordinate volunteers that number in the hundreds.
Another thing that gets me is that most of the church based offender support groups tout Restorative Justice and go on and on about how it
benefits victims - how does something benefit victims when there is no victim
involvement, except when the offender decides he wants it?
A friend and I went to a banquet one time in Vernon, BC that was put on by a church group that said it was practicing Restorative Justice. The guest speaker was Pierre Allard of Corrections Canada. He went on and on and on about how Restorative Justice benefits victims, is victim centered, etc, etc, etc. One of the things he said was that, "victims were in a prison of their own making, born out of a need for vengeance."
This was so wrong. It was nothing more than an effort to recruit volunteers to support offenders. I don't think he even knew or suspected there might be a couple of victims in the audience. We were so upset at his speech.
After, I asked the coordinator what sort of support systems he had in place for the victims. He muttered under his breath "Well, we have a Bible study but no one wants to lead it."
There is just so much work for victims that still needs to be done. I just hope I see this necessary work completed in my lifetime.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Dismissed and soon forgotten
We were talking about a series of sexual assaults that occurred at the University of Saskatchewan.
Recall that at least five incidents had been reported at U of S in the course of 4 months; the most recent involved a violent attack in a campus utility room back in November. The victim in that attack, a young woman known only as Eden, enlisted the support of other students and parents from across Canada and managed to compile a petition of over 1,000 signatures demanding that the University conduct an independent audit of the School's safety procedures. In early February the University capitulated, agreeing to allow outside professionals to come onto the campus and conduct an external review of campus safety standards against those of other universities across the country.
The story should end here, with this one small victory. Unfortunately, from here it only gets worse.
Shortly after the University agreed to the external review, Eden received a threatening email urging her to, "stop it now before things get worse." In addition, police have now made statements that they don't believe her story; they think she imagined the attack, or possibly that she was consensual in the incident.
Eden has since left the University of Saskatchewan. She has dropped out of university and gone home to live with her parents.
That's all you get for putting your integrity on the line? A one way ticket out of town and the chance to move back in with mom and dad? I thought Eden was deserving of a medal.
Eden's misfortune reminded me of a similar situation that occurred in 1997 at West Virginia University (with thanks to Melanie Jarvis)...
A young woman is raped on campus. She goes to a sex clinic where a rape kit is administered. The girl's parents appeal to the school's public safety officers, but the officers state that there is nothing they can do; the girl was a consenting adult. Rumors circulate that the alleged offender is well known to campus police, and a student. The school does nothing.
Eventually school officials agree to meet with the girl. At the meeting the school's lawyers ask her "if she had an orgasm" during the encounter. The case is given an obligatory pass-over by a prosecuting attorney; the attorney dismisses the case as "unwinnable". The case atrophies. It eventually is forgotten. Seven years later, the student dies. Her mother refuses to discuss the details of her death.
Shun victims. Shut them down. Exile them back to their hometowns. But in so doing we miss the lesson in their painful experience
I don't want to jump to any conclusions but it seems another young girl's gone missing from the Sherbrooke area:
Jeune fille de 15 ans recherchée
Une jeune fille de 15 ans dont on est sans nouvelles depuis le 19 mars est recherchée par la police de Sherbrooke. Jessica Rosa est de race blanche. Elle mesure 1,62 mètre (5pieds et 4 pouces) et pèse 50kg (110 livres).
Elle a les cheveux et les yeux bruns. Au moment de sa disparition, elle portait des jeans bleus, un manteau noir à capuchon et des bottes blanches à talons hauts et semelles pleines.
Quiconque ayant des renseignements pouvant aider à la retrouver est prié de communiquer avec le SPS 821-5555 ou à info crime au 1 800 711-1800.
Les Policier: "Just one more Dutchie, then we'll go shake some trees"
Thursday, March 25, 2004
AQUALUNG ARRESTED IN MAGANTIC
From the Sherbrooke Record:
A 71-year-old Lake Megantic man is behind bars and will have to face a number of charges for nearly a quarter-century of sexual assaults on young girls. Wednesday morning members of the Sûreté du Québec's Granit detachment raided the Dollard St. home of Jean-Denis Turcotte. After questioning he was brought before a judge in Sherbrooke where he was faced with a total of 14 charges for incidents that allegedly took place between 1976 and 2003. He was then ordered held pending a bail hearing.
Non Résolu Encore - Louise Camirand
Twenty-Seven years ago today the body of 20-year old Louise Camirand was found in a snow bank near Megog, Quebec. Camirand's death remains unsolved. The following is how the newspapers reported her discovery 27 years ago:
Sherbrooke woman murdered near Magog
AUSTIN - Quebec Police Homicide officers are continuing their investigation in the murder of a 20-year-old Sherbrooke woman whose body was discovered on the McDonald Concession Road her at 10 a.m. Friday. Florent Henry and Robert Curtis, both of R.R. 2, Magog made the discovery when they were on their way to cut wood and saw the nude body of Louise Camirand of 30 Bryant St. partially covered with snow.
"They told us they travelled the same road on Wednesday when everything was normal." Const. Andre Lessard, Cowansville QPF said. "When Const. Gary Budge and I arrived on the scene we were able to determine she was in her 20s and had a boot lace around her neck. She was frozen solid and there were no other external signs of violence. Her black slacks and blue suede jacket with grey fur trim were near her."
Death was confirmed by Coroner Noel E. Monast and the body was taken to the Medical-Legal Institute, Montreal where an autopsy performed Saturday revealed the young woman had been sexually assaulted prior to being killed. The report also indicated she suffered internal lesions and fractures in the pelvic area and the latter might have been caused by kicking or having been hit by a blunt instrument.
It is understood Miss Camirand was to have been married in May.
Corporal Jacques Pothier is in charge of the investigation.
Louise Camirand R.I.P. - Les Journals Francais
Louise, 20 ans, VIOLEE ET ETRANGLEE
Malgre un travail acharne qui se poursuit depuis plus de trois mois, les policiers de la Surete du Quebec n'ont toujour pas encore reussi a percer le mystere qui entoure le meutre sadique de Louise Camirand, violee et etrangee, au mois de mars dernier, a Austin, dans les Cantons de l'Est.
On se reppellera que la jeune Camirand, agee de 20 ans, de Sherbrooke, etait mysterieusement disparue depuis deux jours quand son cadavre entierement nu fut decouvert, le 25 mars 1977, dans un chemin de halage d'Austin, a quelques milles de Magog.
Depuis cette macabre decouverte, les policiers ont deja l'interroge plus de 225 personnes, a Sherbrooke et dans les environs, mais aucun indice serieux ne leur a permis de faire progresser cette enquete.
Membre des forces armees canadiennes, Louise Camirand etait seule, en soiree de mercredi 23 mars 1977, lorsqu'elle a ete vue pour la derniere fois vivante, au depanneur "Provi-Soir", a l'intersection du boulevard Jacques Cartier et de la rue King Ouest, a Sherbrooke.
Reconnue comme une jeune fille qui ne faisait jamais d'auto-stop et qui ne semblait pas avoir d'ennemis, elle serait tout de meme montee a bord d'une voiture dont le ou les occupants etaient susceptibles de la connaitre.
Pres de l'endoit ou son cadabre a ete trouve, les policiers ont releve des traces de pneus dans la neige fraichement tombee, traces qui on 44 pouces entre les deux roules et qui pourraient correspondre a des voitures de marques Renault 5, Mini-Austin ou Toyota Celica.
Toute personne qui pourrait fournir des renseigements relativement a cet assassinat est priee de bien vouloir communiques aves les reponsables de cette enquete, les detectives Jacques Pothier et Andre Massicotte, des crimes contre la personne de la SQ de Montreal (514) 395-4004, ou au coporal Roch Gaudreault, du BEC de la SQ de L'Estrie, a (819) 565-8111, en etant assuree que tous les renseignements seront traites confidentiellement par les policiers.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Non Résolu - Manon Dube R.I.P.
Twenty-Six years ago today the body of 10-year old Manon Dube was found in a stream near Massawippi, Quebec. Manon's death remains unsolved. The following is how the newspapers reported her discovery 26 years ago:
Police say there is yet no way to determine what killed ten-year-old Manon Dube, missing from near her Sherbrooke home since. Jan. 27, whose body was retreived from a frozen brook Friday Night.
Two young Montreal Boys, in the area for the weekend, found Manon's body partially frozen into the brook ice half a mile from Massawippi on the Kingscroft road.
The body was transported to Montreal Saturday and an autopsy will be performed at the Medical-Legal Institute today. Det. Lt. Alphee Leblanc of the SHerbrooke Municipal Police who has headed the investigation since January will assist at the autopsy.
When found, Manon was dressed exactly as the day she disappeared, in a navy blue snowsuit and tan leather boots. Only one red mitten and a salmon-pink tuque were not recovered.
A police spokesmans said the only visible sign of injury was a deep gash to Manon's forehead, but added it may have been caused by the ragged ice.
The spokesman said it was impossible to determine exactly how long Manon's body had been in the brook, but said indications were the better part of the two months since her disappearance.
Members of the Sherbrooke and Coaticook QPF and Sherbrooke municipal police combed the brook area through the day Saturday but their search was hampered by melting ice and new fallen snow.
Manon was last seen at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 27, when she and her younger sister, Chantal were walking to their Bienville Street home after playing outdoors. When the pair reached the intersection of Union and Craig streets, Chatal decided to run the remainder of the way because she was cold. Only 500 yards from her home, Manon never arrived.
The same weekend, a 16-man police search team and tracking dogs combed the city's west end, but found no trace of the girl. More than 1500 local snowmobilers spent several days searching in the area surrounding Sherbrooke but found nothing.
Manon's mother, Jeannine Dube, said she was relieved that her daughter's body had been recovered: "for nine weeks, the tension I have been under... I didn't know what to do with myself," She said.
In a local radio broadcast yesterday morning Mrs. Dube said it was only the good will of her family and prayer that kept her going.
"And I ask you to pray for her... and for me." She said.
A Sherbrooke native, Mrs. Dube said she has no intention of moving from the City.
Non Résolu - Manon Dube R.I.P... Les Journals Francais
La mort Mysterieuse de Manon Dube: RIEN, RIEN, RIEN...
La mort de la jeune Manon Dube, a Sherbrooke, demeure une enigme. Aucune hypothese ne peut etre retenue sinon celle de l'implication d'une personne inconnue.
Manon Dube a ete portee disparue apres Noel, a Sherbrooke, et on a trouve son corps dans la glace a une vingtaine de milles de Sherbrooke plusieurs semaines plus tard.
Malgre des expertises menees de main de maitre, a l'Institut de medecine legale, rue Parthenais, a Montreal, on ne connait pas encore les causes exactes de la mort de l'enfant agee de dix ans.
La semaine derniere, le coroner Me Jean-Pierre Rivard a entendu quelques temoins, au palais de justice de Sherbrooke, quant aux circonstances entourant la mort de la jeune Dube. On y a repete les memes circonstances connues dupuis longtemps quant a la disparition et a la decouverte de la fillette.
Mais rien de nouveau n'a ete apporte devant le coroner. La cause demeure donc non resolue. Mais il est clair que quelqu'un a agi dans cette cause, car une fillette ne peut marcher 20 milles, sutout en periode hivernale...
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
A great article from the Minnesota Star Tribune; I want to meet this Brian Guimond.
Minnesota's missing: Terribly missed
They are still mothers and fathers.
Patty Wetterling still has Christmas presents saved for her son Jacob after he was abducted 14 years ago. Allan Sjodin still talks to his daughter, Dru, missing for four months, as he drives through the Red River Valley, looking for her in the wheat stubble.
More than nine months into the nightmare of 5-year-old LeeAnna's disappearance, Kaelin Warner still wakes at 3 a.m. and instinctively listens for the rhythmic breathing and rustlings of sleeping children. But she hears only one. There should be two.
Even as they search for their children and hope dims, even as months and then years pass, the relationship endures: "My child -- my child -- is missing."
There are haunting, heartbreaking similarities, but each family responds differently.
An anguished Brian Guimond presses police, college officials and students for information that might help him find his son Josh, or what caused his disappearance 16 months ago from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn. Guimond the father presses so hard that he's "scaring the students," an official says in an affidavit.
At a hearing Wednesday in Stearns County District Court, a judge will determine whether to extend for two years a restraining order that has temporarily banned Brian Guimond from campus without permission and a school escort.
He has been ordered not to shout, swear or call names, an indication of his intensity.
"I'm just trying to get to the bottom of my son's disappearance," Guimond says.
While not necessarily endorsing all his tactics, Patty Wetterling understands the depth of his passion.
"He's under a lot of stress," she said. "Especially with a missing adult, a lot of pressure is put on the family to keep the interest going. That's all understandable and reasonable.
"Some of the challenges have been his arguments with law enforcement. It's difficult, because on the one hand they are the only people you've got to help find your son. But if you don't feel like they've done their job, then you are all on your own. And I think that's where Brian is."
Jerry Wetterling, Jacob's father, is also inclined to cut Guimond some slack.
"The thing with Brian, he's kind of all alone in this," he said. "Josh is his only child. His life is absolutely torn upside down, and I know absolutely what that is all about.
"I really feel for him -- that isolation and desperation. Whatever reason, he's justified just because you're just reaching for straws, you know. You've got to do what you think you've got to do to give yourself some peace of mind and find your loved one."
The school's restraining order also makes sense, Patty Wetterling said, because it "is putting some boundaries back" in Brian Guimond's life.
"Just because you have a missing child doesn't mean you can do anything you want to do," she said. Jacob's abducter might be someone who still lives in the area, "but I can't go pounding on doors and say, 'What happened? Give it up!' I may want to, but I can't."
Some parents of missing children cope by withdrawing from old friends and routines, even as they find themselves thrust into roles more public than they ever thought themselves capable of: talking with FBI agents and governors, accepting the sympathy of strangers at restaurants, putting on makeup to appear on network TV news shows.
"When your kid is missing, you cannot sleep," said Carol Watson, executive director of Missing Children Minnesota. Her toddler son was missing for 13 months in the early 1980s. The memories are still searing. "When your child is missing, that's the most important thing in the world," she said. "It feels like the world should stop."
It isn't just parents who must find ways to cope with loss. JoAnn Nathe is a sister of Jodi Huisentruit, who disappeared in Mason City, Iowa, in 1995 on the way to work as a TV anchor.
Nathe still misses "my little sister, who I just adored." And she still struggles with trust. "One time, I had my mom along at a concert and I couldn't find her anywhere," Nathe said. "I just assumed she had fallen or had a heart attack, and I went wild assuming what had happened.
"It's gotten better. But for a while, I'd just overreact, assuming the worst. If my daughter was real late coming home from something, I'd think, 'Oh, no.' "
Nathe, 53, teaches first grade in Sauk Centre, Minn. To get through bad times, to talk herself out of fear or depression, she becomes Jodi: always bubbly, ever the optimist.
"Just like this Dru Sjodin," she said. "When you see Dru Sjodin on TV, that's Jodi."
In Brainerd, Minn., Colleen Dalquist also couldn't help watching the family pictures of a smiling Dru Sjodin shown on TV as thousands of volunteers searched for her last year. Sjodin was 22 when she went missing after leaving work at a Grand Forks mall. Erika would be 22, too, Colleen Dalquist thought. "We look at Dru's parents on TV and we feel so bad they have to be there, waiting and not knowing," she said.
To friends who asked why she insisted on following the Sjodin case so closely, Dalquist said "I'm drawn to it. I'm drawn to them."
Months before, Colleen and Duane Dalquist had gone with investigators to watch as farm ponds were cleared of ice, drained and searched. They had walked with searchers through fields and woods, and they had watched, holding hands, as divers went into a deep, water-filled mine pit where a 24-year-old suspect had told police he might have left Erika.
The divers couldn't find her. The suspect was released.
Duane Dalquist, a machinist who took a year off work after Erika disappeared so he could spend more time at home with their two sons, still gets the urge to go looking for his daughter. Like Allan Sjodin, like Chris Warner (LeeAnna's father), like all the others, he returns from a fruitless search disappointed -- and relieved. "I'm partly glad each time when [we] find nothing," he said. "But that tears you apart, too."
To find nothing is to not know.
"I think it's easier to deal with death than [with] not knowing," Kaelin Warner said.
Added Chris Warner: "I can deal with facts. I can't deal with not knowing."
The Warners have taken antidepressants to help them through the worst times, but there have been moments when nothing could keep the pain at bay. On a cold night last October, they had a disagreement that led to Kaelin driving off in a fit of anger -- striking Chris, who suffered minor scrapes. It was determined to be an accident, a consequence of the strain on the family.
"I think, honestly, that's the point at which we hit the bottom," Chris Warner said.
"In my heart, there is still some hope," Colleen Dalquist said in December, more than a year after her daughter disappeared and just three weeks after the Sjodin abduction.
"I look at the reality of the situation and my head tells me no. But until we find her and bring her home, there's a part of me that still expects to see her come through the door. We have to have that."
Jacob Wetterling had scribbled his name on the back wall of his closet. His mother found it years later when she was repainting the room for her daughter, Carmen. "There it was, almost like he was saying, 'Hi, Mom,' " Patty Wetterling said.
She didn't paint the closet. How would she explain that to Jacob?
Allan Sjodin is a shy, soft-spoken man who initially barricaded himself with his family after his daughter disappeared. Then -- realizing he needed the reach of their reports -- he gave his phone number to journalists and said, "You may have as much of me as you need."
Now he shuttles more than 300 miles weekly between his Twin Cities construction supervisor job and a temporary home in Grand Forks, a base for searches for Dru and for monitoring the judicial proceedings against her alleged kidnapper.
Allan Sjodin used to enjoy losing himself in rows of empty seats in center field at a Minnesota Twins baseball game. A while ago, a friend asked him how he was doing. Sjodin responded, "There are no more center fields for me."
But even as prosecutors detailed the ominous evidence they had collected -- a knife, blood spatters, DNA test results -- Sjodin, too, refused to surrender that last shred of hope that she is alive and waiting for him to find her.
"Certainly with everything that's happened, it's hard to hold on, but I do," he said. "I'm her father. And if your father abandons you ..."
Dr. Daniel Broughton, professor of pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and former board chairman of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said that hope is vital and shouldn't be dismissed as wishful thinking.
"As long as there is a chance that the child is alive, the parents really need to be supported in that," he said.
"We know that the first several hours are the most important, especially in stranger kidnappings." The longer a child is gone, the more ominous it becomes. "But more ominous does not mean quit."
Often, after "a huge outpouring of support," that support dwindles, Broughton said. But the trauma stays with the family. "It never, ever goes away." Lisa Cheney, Josh Guimond's mother, stays busy with work and with the search for her son. She has talked with politicians and with other parents of missing children, including Patty Wetterling. She visits Web pages devoted to the missing. She distributes buttons and ribbons, and she keeps Christmas lights blazing on a big sign -- "Keep hope alive" -- outside her house.
"Every day you wonder, 'Am I doing enough or not?' Until they find him, you don't know."
Some parents wallow in work, Watson said. Others can't work at all. Some can't eat; some eat compulsively.
"It's very hard to try to carry on any kind of a life," she said. "You think you're coping, then all of a sudden you'll fall apart. It's very common for [marriages] to come to a crashing halt."
If it's an extended absence, "There will be a time when you will laugh or smile or you'll have a good day. Then you feel like you're betraying your child."
Monday, March 22, 2004
It won't drive, C-55
Surprize, surprize... Canada's Solicitor General's office now says the bill enacted to keep tabs on convicted sex offenders... isn't working!!
Apparently Corrections Canada complains that bill C-55 places too great a burden on them.
Dear Minister Irwin Colter:
How's it go'in.
You've been in power three months now. You've settled in. Can you please get down to work and finish the job initiated by your predecessor of creating a National Sex Offender Database.
A Waiting Nation
Sunday, March 21, 2004
"Yes, but what gives it that distinct flavor?"
In response to the human remains in Pickton pig sausage story, Kate over at Small Dead Animals calls for a return to the death penalty.
If you could show me a way that capital punishment would be cheaper than life in prison I'd be in favor too.
[sigh]...If only Life Imitated Art
In the new Angelina Jolie stinkbomb, Talking Lives, Judd... I MEAN JOLIE!... plays an FBI profiler sent to Montreal to help the Surete du Quebec who can't seem to piece together a series of unsolved murders.
Hollywood got the second part right - alas, if only the FBI could be permitted to come along and save the day...
Je me souviens
OK, well things are humming right along in Quebec.
Five men fled in a black stretch limousine after shooting up a strip club.
Meanwhile, an inmate made a violent escape from custody at a hospital in Montreal. it took Bandidos biker member Robert Campeau exactly three months to go from incarcerated to free man.
And finally, the Quebec Language Police has spent 2 years trying to collect a $604 fine for what they say were language violations. Priorities you know! (By the way, the Language Police lost the case in court).
Friday, March 19, 2004
A couple of good examples of why we pay taxes
The RCMP has laid a total of 278 charges against 11 people in an immigration fraud ring. It is described as A "very well structured criminal organization." The Mounties said the investigation revealed that between 50 and 60 people facing hearings were offered positive judgments from the board in exchange for cash bribes of $8,000 to $15,000 per person. It took place in the Gaspe region of Quebec of all places.
OK, well here is another reasonable explanation for the exorbitant taxes we pay in Canada. After all, cons must be reimbursed for "lost" items while in prison. For the 2002-03 fiscal year, 714 claims were settled for a total payout of $107,275.
John Williamson, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, called the "unbelievable" payouts proof that crime pays,
"It's really too bad the government doesn't have the same guarantee for law-abiding citizens when their property is damaged or stolen by criminals."
Examples of some of the claims paid out in 2003 were for- Prima TV remote control: $35, Samsung television: $100, extension cord and black shorts: $13, Timex Ironman watch: $84.99, Stereo, clock radio and power bar: $100, rolling papers, lighters and pouches of tobacco: $30.71, track pants and sweatshirt: $198, single Bic lighter $2, computer cords, printer cables and voice recognition headset: $131.03.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Bad Days in B.C.
A recent court case here in BC heard of an attack and murder so vile that Justice Jim Williams described the killing as unspeakably evil.
The victim's hands were taped together and she was forced into a loft of a barn where she was sexually assaulted. The 15-year-old killer then dragged her into the master bedroom of the house, wrapped her head in duct tape except for leaving an opening for her nose. He then slashed her throat with a Swiss army knife.
Just think, this monster will be eligible to apply for parole in only 7 years! Where is the justice for the victim of this unspeakably horrific crime?
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Marjean Fichtenberg, whose son was murdered in 1993, is guest-hosting the blog this week while I attend to moving arrangements.
I'll post something soon.
What is justice?
Traditionally, in our conception of justice we do not think of the victims. We often hear about a vengeful victim. Some people think that because the victim is angry about the harm caused to them they are vengeful. The victim says, no, we just want justice. What is justice for the victim?
Becoming a victim of crime is a traumatic, unusual, life-changing event where the experience challenges the victim's belief about the world as a place of order and civilization.
• Criminal Injury Compensation is a little like trying to win the lottery. The results of an application are out of the victims' control. Some are approved, some are not, for varying reasons. The amount can never be predicted. In one case the victim was beaten into a vegitive state and criminal injury refused payment saying the victim was not suffering.
• Victim Impact Statements must be done according to the rules or they are not considered or read by the judge. The victim's "truth" has to be told according to someone else's rules.
• Emotions are unacceptable. They have no place in a court room.
The last thing a new or unskilled victim expects is their non-place in the legal system. From there it just gets worse - add all the rules of law, including what they can and cannot say, what information they can and cannot have - then tell them they are without legally enforceable rights in the whole game and if they need legal advice they have to hire their own lawyer. While we are at it, why don't we just kick them while they are down and let them see how the offenders future is central, but their rehabilitation isn't even relevant. It is shameful the way victims are treated even though this whole multi-billion dollar industry exists only because of their victimization.
Justice is something that happens to the offender. Crimes are violations of law and the offender is brought before the courts and held accountable for the crime committed against society, or the breaking of the law. When the offender is apprehended, tried and sentenced our traditional justice system says "justice has been done". The only measurement of "justice" we have is the length or severity of the sentence. What about from the victim's perspective? Has justice really been done? Why does it seem that some victims are not satisfied with the "justice"? Are they vengeful? Our present criminal justice process occurs with or without the victim. A societal response to an offender says "You have violated the law and we will hold you accountable and punish you if it is appropriate, isolate you if needed, and offer you services to help reintegrate you into the community, rehabilitate you and return you to the community as a productive member of society." The victim is left on the outside saying, "What about me?" The victims of crime have no comparable experience of a societal response to them. There is no statement of community responsibility that says, "What happened to you was wrong and we will help you rebuild your life." Victim's emotional, physical and financial needs are rarely fully addressed, if addressed at all. As a result, victims feel further victimized and alienated.
Repairing the harm is often very complicated. Some victims turn to substances as a way to cope. Some are so traumatized by their victimization that they are unable to return to their place of employment. To the extent that the real and practical needs of victims are not addressed, ” justice” will ultimately be unsatisfying for the victim.
Monday, March 15, 2004
In September of 1993, a violent offender on Day Parole murdered my son, Dennis. Paul Butler’s previous offences were armed robbery, hostage taking, shooting at police. While he was incarcerated for these crimes he was involved in 2 stabbings of other inmates. He was (is) a diagnosed psychopath. Eventually, after 2 1/2 years of writing literally hundreds of letters, and spending thousands of dollars, I learned that the man who murdered my son was an RCMP agent.
Paul Butler was released on stat release straight out of the Special Handling unit in Saskatchewan to Whitehorse, Yukon. He immediately did a B&E. CSC and the Parole Board turned around and re-released him on Day Parole. While he was in prison waiting for the trial for the B&E, he told the RCMP that another inmate asked him to do a contract killing. The RCMP wanted him on the street. They then flew him to Prince George, BC on an RCMP jet where he was staying in a half way house.
My son had just moved to Prince George to go to school and was working part time. He was rooming and boarding with a long time friend. My son's roommate saw Butler in coffee shops, etc around town, eventually they chatted and he told her that he was a mechanic, lived with his girlfriend etc. He asked her what kind of work she does and she said dry walling but was out of work. He asked for her name and address and phone number because he knew someone that may be hiring. She gave it to him.
Butler got into a fight with another inmate at the half way house. He phoned his handler and his parole officer and told them he couldn't go back to the half way house because he was afraid. His parole officer asked him if he had somewhere else he could go, he gave my son and roommate's address and the parole officer told him to go stay there. NEVER did they phone Dennis and Trish and ask them if they wanted a violent offender to come stay with them. The parole officer told the half way house worker to phone Trish's number later to see if he was there. When they phoned Trish, they asked if Paul Butler was there. Trish said she didn't know a Paul Butler (she did not know his real name, he had given another name to them). The parole officer issued a warrant for his arrest. He showed up at their house one week later, told them he had a fight with his girlfriend and wanted to know if he could stay the night. My son's roommate was going to visit her mom for the weekend and Dennis, being the nice guy he was, said OK. The next day he stabbed Dennis 6 times, once in the neck and 5 times in the heart. He then stole Dennis’s truck and ID and took off. During the week between the time there was supposedly and arrest warrant for him and when he showed up at their house there was no action taken at all. They did not open a file. The RCMP claimed they lost the warrant. They never went to see Dennis and Trish - NOTHING. I am convinced they knew where he was and were trying to make arrangements to get him out of town.
When I learned that the man who murdered my son was on Parole, I had to find out what happened. After 3 months of writing letters, phoning the RCMP, Parole and Corrections I received a form letter from Corrections. My one lucky break came when I went to see the director of the halfway house and he told me that "There was something about Butler that Corrections didn't tell him and if he would have know he would have never accepted him into the house." There was no way I was not going to find out. I did everything. I literally went through 2 1/2 years of hell while they tried to dismiss me. I am sure they thought that eventually I would give up and go away. Finally, the RCMP told me about the informer part.
Something I didn’t know until sometime later was that Trish, Dennis’s roommate and long time friend who discovered his body had to clean up the crime scene herself. I didn’t realize that the victim’s family is expected to clean up the blood of a murder victim themselves. I could have given her the money to hire someone had I known, but I didn’t know. It sickens me to this day, 10 years later.
Most of my help came from Steve Sullivan, Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. With Steve Sullivan's help, I lobbied the Attorney General of BC to reopen the file and call a public inquest. After many months he agreed. After the inquest I brought a lawsuit against corrections RCMP and Parole Board and won an out of court settlement. One of the recommendations from the inquest was that an independent victims ombudsman office be formed. Corrections and Parole responded to the recommendation by forming the Victims Advisory Committee to CSC/NPB in the Pacific Region.
My daughters' great-grandfather died last week, so I've been sitting with that for a while. We sent him off into the ground to Roy Rogers Happy Trails.
I've been helping my oldest daughter with her blog, which suddenly seems more interesting than mine.
Please can I crawl into a hole:
A parent at our preschool told us they are having trouble with their ten-year-old daughter. It seems there is a problem at one of the elementary schools with ten-year-old girls giving blowjobs to ten-year-old boys.
How am I supposed to respond to that?
For my birthday my brother gave me High Winds White Sky. A very young Bruce Cockburn, the live bonus track of Totem Pole, recorded at a Kingston coffee house, is worth the price of admission.
Maybe I should buy a canoe?
Thursday, March 11, 2004
IVAC and Me
first in a series of my dealings with Quebec's Indemnisation des Victimes d'Actes Criminel
Having waited 25 years for a Quebec victims assistance service to come offer aid, I recently decided to take matters into my own hands and start knocking on doors.
What I knew of the two major Quebec victims assistance services, CAVAC and IVAC, was mostly gleaned through horror stories shared with other victims, but in truth I had no first-hand experience - in fact I didn't even know what the acronyms stood for. The worst "tale" was that of Pierre Boisvenu who, he had told me, had been given a paltry $600 to cover the cost of funeral arrangements in the matter of the murder of his daughter; this was the only assistance provided by CAVAC and IVAC, and the root of his bitterness with both organizations. But could this be so? Was $600 the extent of their services and compassion?
Then I caught wind of a brilliant idea... I was a victim! Why not contact IVAC and see what they were prepared to offer me as compensation for the trouble I had suffered for the murder of my sister. Sure, the case was fosillized, but it was worth a shot.
First things first, CAVAC stands for Les Centres d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels. Not to sound catty, but I am still not clear on what exactly it is they do. I think they are supposed to act as a sort of information hub for victims. To be frank, when I attended Justice Canada's National Victims Conference in Ottawa last November (one last time: the victims conference without any victims) there was a large representation from CAVAC, but they looked like they weren't too sure what they were doing there. I introduced myself - it was pretty clear who I was since there was a C.B.C. camera stuck in my face - but I don't recall any of them approaching me and saying,
"Mr. Allore... in the matter of the recent reinvestigation into the murder of your sister... how are you doing? Is everything ok? Do you need some Quebec victims assistance?"
Nada - there was nothing like that. I do recall that they all were caring a lot of shopping bags, probably chaising down some pre-Christmas bargains in the big city.
So, that's CAVAC.
Now on to IVAC. IVAC stands for Indemnisation des Victimes d'Actes Criminel, the Crime Victims' Indemnity Commission. Unlike CAVAC, IVAC has a very definite purpose; since 1972 they've been doling out cash to victims of violent crime, with limited decerning criteria to define eligibility. IVAC does not require positive proof that someone was a victim; basically, if you tell your story to IVAC and it appears plausible than you may be eligile to receive a small fortune (unlike other victims compensation programs, IVAC has no minimum or maximum). Also, IVAC does not follow up with victims, so if you spin a good yarn, you could be set for life.
You'd think with such a loosy-goosy arrangement, IVAC might be bankrupt by now. Not so. According to an article by Kristian Gravenor, a 1987 Solicitor-General's report showed that less than one per cent of Quebec's crime victims applied for the money. This might have something to do with the fact that nobody is aware that the funds exist. IVAC advertises the fund once-a-year in medical magazines (hey, in 1979, my parents certainly weren't aware of it otherwise we would have hopped on the gravy-train).
Still, what could account for Pierre Boisvenu receiving such a small sum if the fund was so flush, and what might I be eligable for? Barely containing my excitement, I decided to call the IVAC offices in Montreal.
I was immediately put off by the guy that answered the phone; I expected him to do the I'll-only-speak-to-you-in-French brush-off, but instead he quickly switched to English - this made me even angrier, since it was my desire all along to struggle along in French.
- I wish to submit a demande.
- Can you tell me briefly the nature of the situation?
- Yes, my sister died in Quebec 25 years ago, but only recently was it discovered she had been murdered.
- Ah yes, in situations like that we can offer up to $600 towards compensation for the funeral expenses, do you wish for me to send you an application?
That was it. It was that simple, 60 seconds and I was riding the gravy train... Ok, $600; maybe the gravy cross-town bus. But why $600? Why should I receive the same amount as Pierre, whose daughter died only a year-and-a-half ago?
Six-hundred bucks; I'm hardly going to reimburse my father for the coffin, but it WILL buy one purdy flower arrangement.
And if you think you and I have troubling pasts, take a gander over at Eric Muller's resent posting on Is That Legal?
Chilling indeed... right down to the F.W. Murnau landscape.
The Reverend Darryl Gray, interim leader of the diminished Alliance Quebec, is calling for more service in English for Anglophones.
Personally I'm of the opinion that if you choose to live in Quebec, then your cheating yourself if you don't learn French.
Rohan Wilson - More Protests
Note that the French media is not covering this story...
The Ultimate Fear Factor
"We have reason to believe that there is a strong possibility that some of the product from the Pickton farms - and how much the RCMP do not know - may still be sitting in some people's freezer in the Lower Mainland."
Yes, that's right, it's an all time gross-out. Canada's Health department is investigating the possibility that accused serial killer, Robert Pickton may have ground some of his victims into pork sausage.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I am shocked - SHOCKED I tell you!
People, please let's not act so shocked and surprised at U.C.L.A.'s Cadavers For Cash program... It's America - at $100,000 a corpse, I'm amazed there's not a commodities market for this sort of thing.
And on that note - the body of actor, Spalding Gray was recovered from New York's East River. Gray was the monologuist who was once quoted as saying (I'm grossly paraphrasing) "It's very hard for me not to share everything of my life with everybody"
Perhaps they should consider turning Spalding's corpse over to U.C.L.A.
Finally, the news over U.C.L.A. got me thinking about that crematorium scandal in Georgia a few years back... remember that? Where they they just dumped about 300 bodies into a swamp? What ever happened with that? Could someone Google it for me? I'm too tired to look.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004|
While we're all waiting for Martha's sentencing, check out Forbes' annual ranking of the Best Places to go to Prison!
Women and the short end of the stick
Troubling news from Amnesty International. According to an article in Montreal's La Presse, 1 in 3 women are exposed to physical violence in their lifetimes. 1 in 5 will be raped or physically assaulted in their lifetimes. 1 in 100 young girls will not make it past their first birthdays, neglected by their parents.
Footnote: a rousing cheer for me. I've been taking french lessons, and for the first time, I read a French newspaper and pretty much understood everything. Can it be that I can finally abandon Montreal Gazette for the superior and comprehensive French alternative, La Presse?
Monday, March 08, 2004
Finally - A Quebec Victims Association
Last week's Sherbrooke Tribune reported that myself and Pierre Boisvenu are starting a club (Vers une association des victimes - it's VERY exclusive; someone close to you has to have died to get in).
Ok, so I'll fess up... I've been conspiring with Pierre and some of his friends - Marcel Bolduc and some guys who lost loved ones to the Hells Angels war; if it weren't for the Angels victims, me, Pierre, and Marcel would call ourselves,
Fathers And Brothers Who Have Lost Family Due To Canada's Insanely Inadequate Revolving-Door Parole System (FABCIRPS ???)...
But as we are joined by the others, we'll probably call ourselves something like,
Disgruntled Association of Victims of Quebec who Intend to Kick Ass (DAVQIKA?)
So we'll work on the name.
Seriously, it was Pierre's idea to start an association of Quebec victims, that is run by victims and for the benefit of victims, and I am fully behind this idea.
You say, such an organization already exists in Quebec?
No, no, no my friend. Unless you're referring to the anemic CAVAC (good luck getting them to return your call) or the technology-challenged IVAC (good luck finding a website). Did you hear that IVAC (whose role it is to compensate the families of victims of crime) managed to award Pierre Boisvenu the astronomical sum of $600 for his trouble in the death of his daughter, Julie?
Now I'm no funeral expert, but I did a little quick research over at www.casketsource.com; this LITERALLY wouldn't pay the price tag on a cardboard coffin.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
Less on the Rohan Wilson Investigation
Remarks made at yesterday's memorial service for Rohan Wilson, the young black man who died inexplicably while under the custody of the Montreal police (courtesy of John MacFarlane):
"Peter Yeomans is (Montreal's) public security boss, and he's not doing anything..."
Recall that Yeomans is the same idiot who recently brayed about the "excellent reputation" of the Montreal police force.
"Don't be fooled, we aren't going to let this tragedy go unanswered. Enough is enough.",
"We're tired of unexplained deaths. We're tired of being treated like second-class citizens.":
Minister Darryl Gray.
"The justice minister is doing nothing to reassure the community. This tells me that as a black man, my life is worth nothing."
"You know, if this had happened to a dog, the SPCA would have acted and somebody would have been arrested already.":
Johnny Francois, whose brother, Marcellus was shot in the head by Montreal police in 1991 in a case of mistaken identity.
Encore en Francais - Big Dumb Bumbling Cops II
More news on the investigation into the Sherbrooke police force courtesy of La Tribune...
Oh look, le ministère de la Sécurité publique is heading up the inquiry...
Look for a soft resolution where no fault is found with anyone.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
Stickin' it to Le Man
What's this? A Gazette reporter showing some teeth?
In Friday's paper, Sid Banerjee states what we knew all along:
The Sherbrooke police force is a collection of bumbling thugs.
The "much maligned" (Sid's words) detachment is in trouble again; this time for starting a brawl in a Montreal tavern at the completion of a hockey tournament which they organized.
Beating up juiced hockey fans: Classy.
Sid points out that this isn't the force's first pissing match; last fall, off duty officers got into a shoving match with some Hells Angels in a Sherbrooke bar:
Ok, that's not so bad.
AND, five officers were suspended for rousting an old man in October 2002:
Beating up Grampa Simpson? That's bad.
However - as expected - Sid didn't go far enough in his assessment, so I will:
Recall that this is the same municipal force that almost blew the Julie Boisvenu murder investigation when they accidentally disclosed evidence against the accused, Hugo Bernier at a news conference following his arrest. As a result of this new example of police stupidity the magistrate assigned to the priliminary hearing of the case last week decided to move the trial from Sherbrooke to Montreal, so that Bernier would get a fair shake. This move had the unfortunate consequence of shifting the proceedings from the victims home turf to that of the accused and his lawyers. Now the Boisvenu family are faced with the economic hardship of having to commute to the trial, while the lawyers get to come home to their families and wide-screen tvs each day.
Thank you so very much, the Justice system of Canada - you really know how to rub salt in the wound of a grieving victim.
Or, in the words of Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, who always displays the appropriate level of sarcasm and decorum (can you believe it! Here is a father whose daughter was brutally murdered not two years ago, and he manages to play the game with grace and style!):
Is it not so that in our justice system, the accused has recourses to advantages
that would favor them, and that the deceased victims are ignored, even discriminated
against in the judicial process?
Well done, Pierre, better words were never spoken, and the criminal justice system in Canada needs to hear them about a billion times over.
Friday, March 05, 2004
Transcript of Boisvenu Press Conference / Original French release follows
REACTION OF THE BOISVENU FAMILY TO THE JUDGES DECISION TO MOVE OF THE MURDER TRIAL OF JULIE BOISVENU TO MONTREAL
SHERBROOKE, March 02 2004
On February 27 2004, the magistrate assigned to the file of the murder of Julie
Boisvenu returned a decision that disappoints us enormously. Our family is discouraged and devastated by this judgment. Now a multiple of questions must be asked of the principal players in this decision. Almost two years after the murder of our daughter Julie, and again we are faced with a big open wound, and nothing indicates that this will resolve itself quickly. We respect the judgment of the magistrate assigned to Julie's case and understand the legal arguments on which it is founded. However, allow us to express our disappointment at the decision to move the legal process in the matter of the death of our daughter to Montreal. This decision will have a grave impact on our family. It will cause a great financial impact on us in order to follow the case adequately. This insensitive decision only confirms for us that
the victims are not taken into account in the whole judicial process in Quebec.
We would like to have answers to the following questions:
- How is it possible that a press conference can be held by the Sherbrooke police
in which evidence is revealed that can so negatively impact the judicial procedures?
- What are the means of communication between the city of Sherbrooke and the assigned prosecutor to the file? Can these communications be improved so that strategic information in future will not be divulged that could harm the the legal process?
- Why was it that the victims weren't first consulted before the judgment by the
- We say it again, we intend to protest the decision of the official magistrate; We question the judge's grounds for movement, that the case will be less compromised in Montreal than in the L'Estrie region or Granby.
In 2004, with all the tools of modern media and information which are disposed to us, the national 24-hour media, the access to limitless information through the internet, etc... and the fact that the death of our daughter, Julie was shouted to all of Quebec through these resources, can we say that a potential jury from Montreal versus L'Estrie is any less compromised?
Is it realistically possible in this modern context for any potential jury to be truly free of external influence?
Can we truly say with this decision that we will have more trust in the discerning capacity and judgement of a jury from Montreal? In this context the process would have been better served by placing the trial in the sector of Granby; this would have been a more acceptable compromise.
Help us understand this - with so many criminal cases in Montreal, such as the recent judgment concerning the Hells Angels where, before the process even begun it was exposed publicly in the media - who will the trial of Julie not be compromised?
Does not moving the trial to Montreal tend to favor one, if not all of the parties representing the accused (who is from Montreal) while serving to the detriment
of the crown?
All the parties in this process will have to move themselves to Montreal
in order to participate in this trial. All of the women and the men of L'Estrie
involved in this just and equitable process will have to move
themselvesto the home of the accused and his lawyers. Also,
the lead prosecutor to this case since the beginning , Mr. Campagna, in whom we have great confidence, will he remain as crown prosecutor once the trial is relocated to Montreal?
Is it not so that in our justice system, the accused has recourses to advantages
that would favor them, and that the deceased victims are ignored, even discriminated
against in the judicial process?
Would it not be fitting to compensate the immediate family and its supporters in order to have easy access to this process? The remoteness of the location of the trial, does it not come to restrict the basic right of citizens and citizens of l'Estrie to
attend this process?
Finally, without entering into a game of comparisons, I would want point out
to our governments what is done to the families of the victims of such an assassination. When one sees the speed with which a government invest hundreds
of millions of dollars, think about the Programs of federal sponsorship, the huge monetary compensations authorized by a judge to the lawyers of Les Hells; how is it that when a young girl is murdered the government compensates the family a "generous" $600?
How is it that the revision of the program d'indemnisation of the victims
d'actes criminal (IVAC) managed by the CSST has not been concluded after 12 years
of administrative work?
We believe it is urgent that a quebec association of the victims d' actes criminal is established. It is important that this association have the cooperation of all government agencies so that the victims are better considered in the judicial process in Quebec and Canada. This situation I addressed last November during the National Victims of Crime Conference held in Ottawa. We seek nothing less than the solidarity of all the women and men of Quebec to accomplish this task in the defense of the victims of criminal acts.
Finally, the Boisvenu family wishes to express to the entire population of Quebec our thanks for the support and the words encouragement you have expressed during this too too long process.
COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE
Pour diffusion immédiate
RÉACTION DE LA FAMILLE BOISVENU
AU DÉPLACEMENT DU PROCÈS
DE L’ACCUSÉ DU MEURTRE
DE JULIE BOISVENU DANS
LA RÉGION DE MONTRÉAL
SHERBROOKE, le 02 mars 2004 - Le 27 février 2004, le magistrat nommé au dossier du meurtre Julie Boisvenu a rendu une décision qui nous déçoit énormément. Notre famille est découragée et dévastée par ce jugement. Aujourd’hui, de multiples questions interpellent les acteurs principaux dans ce dossier. Presque deux ans après le meurtre de Julie, la plaie encore grande ouverte et rien indique que le dossier se résoudra rapidement.
D’abord, la famille tient à affirmer qu’elle respecte le jugement du magistrat dans le dossier du meurtre de Julie et comprend les arguments légaux sur lequel il se fonde. Par contre nous désirons signifier notre déception devant la décision de déplacer le procès du présumé meurtrier de notre fille vers Montréal. Cette décision aura sur la famille des conséquences malheureuses. Ainsi, il y a un grand risque d’être reporté dans le temps et celui-ci occasionnera des frais de déplacement importants pour la famille et nos proches afin de le suivre adéquatement. Cette décision nous rappelle que les victimes ne sont pas prises en compte dans tout le processus judiciaires au Québec.
Au lieu de condamner et de juger qui que ce soit pour le travail fait, nous désirons avoir des réponses à nos questions.
Comment se fait-il qu’une conférence de presse de cette nature, tenue par les policiers de Sherbrooke au dénouement de leur enquête, ait pu avoir un impact si négatif sur le déroulement des procédures judiciaires? Quel a été l’encadrement fourni par le service des communications de la ville de Sherbrooke et le procureur assigné au dossier afin que l’information stratégique divulguée lors de la conférence de presse fut mieux filtrée afin de ne pas nuire aux suites du dossier devant la Cour? Pourquoi n’a-t-on pas suffisamment encadré les policiers qui se devaient d’une part informer une population inquiète et nerveuse suite au meurtre de Julie et d’autre part protéger des éléments de preuve ne pouvant à ce moment être rendus public?
Comment se fait-il que nous devions faire payer aux victimes les conséquences d’une activité de relation publique questionnable sur l’application des règles de base en matière de droit que soulève le magistrat dans son jugement?
Nous le disons encore, loin de nous l’intention de contester l’ensemble de la décision du magistrat attitré au dossier. Nous questionnons le fait que les citoyennes et citoyens de Montréal risquent d’être moins contaminés que ceux de la grande région l’Estrie et du secteur de Granby.
En 2004, peut-on se poser la question qu’avec tous les outils d’information modernes dont nous disposons, tels : les médias nationaux qui répètent sans arrêt des nouvelles, l’information illimitée accessible via internet, etc…; se peut-il qu’un membre potentiel d’un futur jury dans la cause de notre fille Julie qui a interpellé tout le Québec, qu’il soit de Montréal ou de l’Estrie, ait le même risque de contamination à cause de ce grand volume d’information disponible? Est-il possible que le contexte et le principe mêmes de constitution d’un jury devant demeurer à l’abri de toute influence externe soit révolus? Doit-on dorénavant davantage se fier à la capacité de discernement et de jugement des futurs membres d’un jury? Dans ce sens, le procès aurait mérité d’avoir lieu dans le secteur de Granby, ce qui nous serait apparu un compromis plus acceptable.
Comment comprendre cette décision alors que tant de dossiers criminels, tel celui des motards où, avant même la tenue des procès on expose publiquement une partie des preuves, tels les saisies et d’autres éléments de la preuve? Dans ce contexte, les citoyennes et les citoyens membres des jurés dans la cause des motards criminalisés ne furent-ils pas contaminés par toute l’information qui a circulé avant les procès? N’y avait-il pas lieu alors de déplacer ces procès dans le Grand Nord québécois afin de s’assurer d’un jury impartial?
En déplaçant le procès vers Montréal, ne favorise-t-on pas tous les acteurs responsables de la partie représentant l’accusé qui demeure dans cette région au détriment de la couronne? Tous les acteurs du procès devront se déplacer à Montréal afin de participer au procès. Toutes le femmes et les hommes de l’Estrie préoccupés par la tenue d’un procès juste et équitable devront également se déplacer vers le lieu de résidence l’accusé et de ses avocats. De plus, le procureur au dossier depuis le début des procédures, Me Campagna en qui nous avons une grande confiance sur le plan juridique et humain, sera-t-il toujours attitré à ce dossier une fois dans la région de Montréal? Si non…
Serait-il que, dans notre système de justice, les accusés auraient d’avantages de recours qui les favoriseraient et que les victimes décédées soient ignorées, même défavorisées dans le processus judiciaires ?
Une décision aussi difficile à accepter pour la famille n’aurait-elle pas du être assortie d’une recommandation appropriée afin de compenser justement la famille et ses proches pour avoir accès facilement au procès? Cet éloignement ne vient-il pas restreindre le droit fondamental aux citoyennes et citoyens de l’Estrie à assister à ce procès?
Enfin, sans entrer dans le jeu des comparaisons, je voudrais rappeler à nos gouvernements le sort qui est fait aux familles des victimes d’un tel assassinat. Quand on voit la vitesse avec laquelle un gouvernement investissent de centaines de millions de dollars, pensons au Programmes des commandites au fédéral, à l’échec de relance de l’usine de papier de Chandler ou aux compensations monétaires autorisées par un juge aux avocats des motards, comment se fait-il que lorsqu’une jeune fille est assassinée, le gouvernement compense la famille d’un montant de 600$...? Comment se fait-il que la révision du programme d’indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminelles (IVAC) administré par la CSST ne soit pas encore conclue après 12 ans de travaux administratifs?
Nous croyons qu’il est urgent que soit mis sur pied une association québécoise des victimes d’actes criminels. Il est important que celle-ci ait toute l’écoute des gouvernements afin que les victimes soient mieux considérées dans le processus judiciaires au Québec et au Canada. Cette situation, je la dénonçais, pas plus tard qu’au mois de novembre dernier, lors d’une Conférence nationale des victimes d’actes criminels à Ottawa. A cet égard nous ne demandons pas moins que la solidarité de toutes les femmes et les hommes du Québec afin de mener à bien ce projet de représentation officielle de la défense des victimes d’actes criminels.
La famille tient à dire à nouveau à toute la population du Québec son appréciation pour le support et les mots d’encouragement que vous adressez au cours de cette trop longue attente.
Source : Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu
Père de Julie Boisvenu
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Houston... it's bad. BAD!
A Houston, Texas, jury Wednesday convicted Susan Wright in the stabbing death of her husband, Jeffrey, who sustained 193 wounds.
Wright had claimed self-defense.
Sorry, that's not a punchline, that's the story.
The SQ - We'll get to the friggin' bottom of this
Calling out for justice, members of Montreal's black community have asked for an independent agency to investigate the death of an N.D.G. man who died two weeks ago under police custody.
Rohan Wilson was a young black man with no history of medical problems and no criminal record. Police ruled that his death was of natural causes, but would not allow Wilson's widow to view his body until three days after his death. Now MUC police say it could take anywhere from six months to a year for the family to receive autopsy results.
Say what? It's not like they're handling some prehistoric fossil or anything; have a look at the body and bury it already.
Stating she no longer has faith that the police can impartially handle the investigation, Wilson's widow stated,
"If this is a natural death, then why is it so hard to get an explanation?... We don't believe the police can investigate the police."
Fortunately the Montreal Police have come up with a dandy solution to remove any indication of impropriety. Announcing they will now take themselves out of the process, the Montreal police force has now made the sensitivedecision to turn the investigation over to...
you guessed it,
The Surete Du Quebec!
Ya, I'm scratching my head too. Isn't this like asking John Ashcroft to investigate allegations of civil rights abuse at Camp X-Ray?
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
William Hung and the Rebirth of Irony
On the day protesters were alleging ousted leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a victim of a coup d'etat in Haiti, William Hung was set to make his triumphant return to American Idol.
Hung is a singer who cannot sing, a dancer who cannot dance, an entertainer devoid of personality. Yet he has become an ironic rallying point for many Americans too tired to protest or to care.
I remember clearly for the entire week after 9/11 I thought we had finally seen the death of irony. The event would finally and forever wipe that smirk off our American faces.
Now irony is back, that smirk has become a shit-eating grin. Up is down. Black is white. Bad is good. There are WMD; there are no WMD.
Here is a nation that trusts Comedy Central's Daily Show as a reliable source for news. Where NPR is seen as the last bastion of journalistic integrity. Please shoot me if I waddle into retirement listening to Prairie Home Companion.
I can't see day for night. John Kerry is a democratic clone of George Bush. John Edwards isn't any better. People put faith in Edwards because he looks presidential; and because he guided us to safety in all those dinosaur movies. Oh, sorry, that was actor, Sam Neill. Well, they do bare a resemblance. AND, Neill played the President in one of his movies - the Omen III. Wait a minute, in the Omen III the President was the devil.
Oh, I'm so confused.
Colin Powell says it is a lie that Aristide was forced into a helicopter. Powell is a man of integrity. I don't believe a word he says. It's not that I particularly care about the situation in Haiti, I just can trust what I see and what I'm being told.
So keep singing William Hung. If people say you're a star, then why not, let it be so. I'm too tired to even care.
CECILIA ZHANG - Are you as confused as I am?
Can someone tell me what-the-hell is up with the Cecilia Zhang investigation in Toronto? The nine-year-old was taken from her home in North York over four months ago and I still can't figure out whether investigators are working on the assumption that she was kidnapped or that she is dead. I understand the issue of witholding investigation information is sacrosanct in Canada, but a few hints would be helpful to an increasingly jittery public.
Last week's Toronto Star reported the revelation that Cecilia's picture would now be posted in taxi cabs throughout the City. Forgive me, but isn't this move about four months too late? And what are police looking for anyway? Evidence that she is alive and walking the streets of Toronto? That she was sold into slavery? Signs she was abducted and killed?
It seems not even the investigators are sure. Crime Stoppers Detective, Jeff Zammit stated in the Star, "It was coming up on the four-month anniversary last week and we want to get the message out that Cecilia is still out there..."
Yet in the same piece Zammit goes on to say,
"We don't want people to forget just because it's been more than four months... Crime Stoppers solved a case last summer in which a fellow was wanted for murder 18 years ago and a tip came in."
Huh? Is she out there or is she dead?
Apparently Cecelia's parents have reached the limits of their frustration with the police as well. In a demonstration of do-it-yourself justice, last week the Zhangs offered a deal to any possible abductors that would bypass a police investigation in exchange for the safe return of their daughter.
Dear Toronto Police: Did you ever get the feeling your being shut out?
Monday, March 01, 2004
The graying of America's prison population : Hey! Let's blame the Boomers!