Teen in rape case spared deportation
Federal officials drop bid to send her to Grenada
Woman was to leave same day suspect in court
Jul. 28, 2004. 08:45 AM
In the face of an uproar from rape-crisis workers and refugee advocates, federal authorities have dropped the deportation of a teenager set for today — the same day the man charged with sexually assaulting her is due in court for a trial date.
Moments before the young woman's last-ditch attempt to block the deportation to Grenada was to get under way in Federal Court in downtown Toronto yesterday morning, her lawyer, Amina Sherazee, told reporters the government had agreed to stay the deportation because her client would be at risk if sent back.
The woman, who cannot be identified, will be allowed to remain legally in Canada and apply for permanent residence.
Women's and refugee groups had been drawn to the case because the woman's lawyers allege Toronto police reported her to immigration authorities after she had built up the courage, with the assistance of youth trauma workers, to pursue the sexual assault case.
Rodney Thomas, charged with sexual assault, is set to appear in court today to set a date for trial.
Sending the woman back to Grenada would almost certainly have resulted in withdrawal of the charge, lawyers say.
"I can't even believe that the government of Canada would even consider deporting a teenage victim of sexual assault before the case has had an opportunity to go to trial. It is just inconceivable," Mary Ann Di Paolo, a social worker with the West End Sexual Abuse Treatment Centre, told reporters outside the courthouse.
"What kind of message does this give to perpetrators of crimes, to rapists, to would-be rapists?" she asked.
"This gives the message that it is okay to rape, to do whatever you want to someone as long as they don't have status because basically, you are going to walk free."
Written submissions filed in court by her lawyer on July 20 say the woman, now 19, arrived in Canada on July 16, 2001, from Grenada, where she had been the victim of "a series of sexual assaults," starting at age 10.
Once in Canada, which she entered on a visitor's visa, she was sexually assaulted by an adult cousin in the summer of 2002, the written submissions say, and then allegedly by Thomas on Feb. 28, 2004, leaving her "despondent, self-mutilating and suicidal," and in need of therapy and counselling.
Sherazee told the Star that although the woman entered Canada legally on a visitor's visa, she was left without "status" when she remained in the country after her visa expired.
The written submissions indicate that as a result of reporting the case to police, she "came to the attention of Immigration, was detained and subsequently placed in the removal stream."
Constable Kristine Bacharach, a Toronto police media relations officer, told the Star the force has a responsibility to advise the Immigration Department of any illegal immigration status it encounters, including that of complainants.
Bacharach stressed this is limited to "advice" and the force does not specifically recommend deportation.
Sherazee was prepared to argue at the last-ditch court hearing that the woman feared she faced retaliation if sent back to Grenada.
The woman said in an interview it was important for her to have her day in court, "because I want justice and I also want to make sure that other women would not be afraid of reporting attacks on them to the police."
Sherazee told reporters federal Immigration Minister Judy Sgro should adopt a policy that would bar her officials from seeking deportation in similar circumstances.
This begs the question, Did Immigration know of the charge against the man?
Why is she suddenly allowed to permanently stay in Canada rather than until the charges are disposed of or until there is a hearing to determine if she really is at risk of harm and if risk is sufficient to justify such extraordinary action as to immediately grant her landed status simply because of the influence of powerful feminist groups?
If this case is similar to other domestic violence charges, there is a 50% chance that she actually assaulted the male and there is a real probability that they may have charged the wrong person which is pure speculation until the trial occurs IF a trial ever occurs.
Watch this case. If the charges are dropped you can expect a lot of officials to suddenly become unavailable and refuse to comment waiting for the press to turn to some other issue.