Christie Blatchford: Wrong-headed courts ‘protect’ sex-assault victims even when it’s not wanted


Three recent cases, one in British Columbia and two in Toronto, have seen victims go to court in order to be able to speak freely, with their names attached, about their abusers.

In all three cases, the victims were represented in court by lawyers hired by media outlets to whom the victims wanted to tell their stories.

In the latest case, a lawyer for Debra Dreise, one of 21 women who were sexually assaulted by the notorious anesthesiologist Dr. George Doodnaught, appeared in Ontario Superior Court Monday in Toronto.

In a brief proceeding, Judge John McMahon rescinded the ban on Ms. Dreise’s identity, imposed under section 486.4 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

She was not in court, but was represented by Alastair McNish, who works with Iain MacKinnon at the Toronto firm of Chitiz Pathak.

Mr. MacKinnon, at the behest of CityNews, also represented Ellie Brooks, another Doodnaught victim, who successfully sought to have the ban on her name lifted before the 65-year-old’s sentencing last week.

An anesthesiologist at North York General Hospital in Toronto, who committed his crimes while his patients were strapped onto the operating table and sedated and while he was shielded behind surgical draping, Doodnaught was sentenced on Feb. 25 to 10 years in prison.

He has applied for bail, however, pending his appeal of his conviction; that decision has yet to be released.

The third instance involves 18-year-old Chanelle Petrie, who was a 15-year-old hockey player with the Kamloops Hellcats when her coach, Heidi Ferber, began sexually preying upon her.

Ferber has pleaded guilty to sexual interference of a person under 16 and sexual exploitation, and will be sentenced next month.

But last Friday, Ms. Petrie convinced British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Hope Hyslop to remove the ban on her identity. A lawyer for the newspaper Kamloops This Week made the application for her based on Ms. Petrie’s desire to tell the unvarnished story.

In this case, the ban, which precludes the publication of “any information” that can identify a victim, had also kept Ms. Ferber’s name out of the public domain.

That nifty side effect for the abuser, common in cases involving young people who are assaulted by relatives or those in authority, ended when Ms. Petrie got the ban reversed, and spoke to the paper about how Ms. Ferber had groomed her and taken advantage of her age and vulnerability.

Victims of sexual assault are usually told the ban giving them anonymity is mandatory, which indeed it is — but only after the victim asks for such protection from the court.

The code is explicit that victims and witnesses in sex-related cases must be told “at the first reasonable opportunity” that they have the right to seek the ban — and presumably the corollary is true, and that if they don’t want anonymity, it won’t be imposed upon them.

Yet Ms. Brooks and Ms. Dreise say they were never consulted about the publication ban on their names, nor informed that they had the right to decline such protection.

“We were just told, ‘It’s done’,” Ms. Dreise told Postmedia in a telephone interview. “I was never given that choice.”

She said the first person who told her that her name wouldn’t be public was a police officer, and that from that point on, “Nobody told me … you don’t have to have this.”

It was only as the trial was concluding that she realized she could have the ban rescinded.

But, she said, when she inquired at the Ontario victim/witness office, an arm of the attorney-general’s bureaucracy that is tasked with supporting and informing victims about the justice system, “ ‘How do I go about getting the ban lifted?’, I got the runaround. No one gave me a straight answer.”

Finally, she says, she spoke to a Toronto Sun writer, who put her in touch with Mr. McKinnon’s office.

“Through all this,” Ms. Dreise said, “I have been known as ‘D.D.’ I haven’t had any identity. People think of me as a nameless, faceless thing, and this is my way of reclaiming part of that. Selfishly, I hope it will help me get over this.”

Ms. Dreise is 43, a married mother of two, yet when she spoke last week to Joe O’Connor of the National Post of the enormous damage done to her, it had to be under the veil of anonymity.

Ms. Brooks, who is now 56, told Postmedia in a phone interview from her office that she learned of the ban on her name only shortly before she was to testify in court.

“It was about a week before,” she said. “That’s when I found out … it was just done, no option.”

That was one of the reasons, she said, that when Avery Haines of CityNews asked if she wanted to tell her story with her name put to it, she replied, “Damn right I will …  everyone [the victims] is nameless, faceless. It’s [what Doodnaught did] not real.”

As she told Ms. Haines in a lengthy interview that aired last week, “I have nothing to be ashamed of; I’ve done nothing wrong.” She said what she’d like to see is all 21 of Doodnaught’s victims come before the media, names and faces there to be photographed or published, and say, “I’m No. 1” and “I’m No. 2.”

Trial prosecutor David Wright, who took no position on Ms. Dreise’s brief application Monday, said afterwards he couldn’t reveal the content of any conversations he or other prosecutors had with her or Ms. Brooks.

But generally, he said, “As part of the preparation process, they [victims] are told about the publication ban. They are told it’s there as protection for them.”

He said the victim/witness office had a team of people assigned to the case.

“We [prosecutors] think it’s a great thing,” he said cheerfully of the ban. “We view the pub ban as very protective. It does encourage victims to come forward.”

As for those women or young people who don’t want or need the protection, it appears that for their own good, as it were, the system will see to it that they get it anyway. How infantilizing and wrong-headed is that?

Postmedia News


Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Publication bans serve the interests of a corrupt judicial system and corrupt police who use the law as their sand pit for endless abuse of others, generally male.

Publication bans protect our corrupt Criminal organizations like the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario, it protects corrupt cops like Det. Peter Van Der Zander who personally fabricates evidence and perhaps worst of all lawyers for the Children's Aid Society like Marguerite Isobel Lewis who personally fabricates evidence in the court room.

S. 486 is also used to "posture" before the court, to allude that the "female victim should not have to face examination from the male perpetrator, when, often the perpetrator is female and the victim is male.

All too often male victims of domestic violence get charged and cannot retain a lawyer and end up having to represent themselves.

Females are paraded before the courts as "victims" who need to be protected from examination in the court room.

It is a very effective method of playing a victim for all it's worth often to hide an extremely violent woman.

It's all part of Canada's "Male Sharia Law" that has a religious cult like belief that Adam was guilty of domestic violence because he was male ,and Eve, well she was the victim and must be protected by a publication ban.