Christie Blatchford: Judge sees love story in brutal, near-fatal attack on woman


More from Christie Blatchford




“I wish I could offer some explanation for what happened,” disbarred Winnipeg lawyer Ralph Gutkin said of his brutal stabbing of a woman he was involved with.


It’s difficult if not impossible to see the story of Ralph Gutkin and the woman he nearly killed through the prism of a great romantic love, but that, nonetheless, is just how Ontario Court Judge Jack Grossman appears to have viewed it.

The judge sentenced the Toronto man last month to a total of four years in jail, less pre-trial custody, which meant he got an additional 13 and-a-half months, which means in turn he will be eligible for day parole in about five months.

In the early hours of July 26, 2012, the 52-year-old woman with whom Gutkin was involved (she has grown children who are struggling with what happened to her and has asked that her name not be published) awoke to his hands strangling her.

She was also stabbed multiple times in the chest (one thrust of the eight-inch chef’s knife Gutkin used punctured the lining around her heart) and suffered seven fractured ribs, a lacerated liver, the tell-tale broken capillaries in her eyes that indicate strangulation, bruises all over her legs, a broken tooth, and, of course, a throat so bruised she couldn’t speak.

Gutkin called 911 – a call she grants probably saved her life, but which she suspects he made only when he figured she was beyond help.

He maintained he had no idea what had happened, and that, in essence, he was as surprised as she was. “I can’t believe I did this,” he told Toronto Police. “I love her. I don’t know how this happened.”

There’s not a lot in there that speaks to love in any recognizable form, except to Judge Grossman.

“Had there been a formal religious wedding ceremony,” he wrote in the second paragraph of his 11-page decision, “the groom would have broken a glass symbolically noting that in times of joy, one must nevertheless always be cognizant that life brings sadness and sorrow.”

It was as if he was saying, what? – that attacks by a partner are part of life’s inevitable slings and arrows?

Since the matter was resolved in what the judge admitted was a “somewhat unusual” but ‘‘not legally impermissible” manner — Gutkin, originally charged with attempted murder, pleaded not guilty to the lesser offence of aggravated assault but despite the plea, prosecutor and defence filed an agreed statement of facts and a conviction was entered — there was no evidence about a wedding.

In fact, though Gutkin often begged the woman to marry him, she declined. There was no suggestion that they’d ever planned to wed.

However, the judge didn’t stop there.

“What started as a relationship with love and affection, with respect for each other and each other’s family, in one short unexplained moment, collapsed and plunged into a moment of terror,” he wrote.

“Two decent people from honourable good families catapulted into a horrendous inexcusable terrifying nightmare.”

It was as though Judge Grossman was describing a dreadful train accident, or some other ghastly tragedy which just occurred, as such tragedies do, rather than the vicious assault of a big man upon a tiny woman who was sound asleep.

‘What started as a relationship with love and affection, with respect for each other and each other’s family, in one short unexplained moment, collapsed’

As for Gutkin being a “decent” person, the judge knew that he was, in fact, a well-disbarred Winnipeg lawyer.

I say well-disbarred because Gutkin was disbarred in 1997 by the Law Society of Manitoba for 142 counts of professional misconduct, counts that involved him misleading clients (he told one couple an adoption application had been made when he’d done nothing on the file) and misappropriating clients’ funds.

A total of 57 clients, over a 10-year period, were affected; the misappropriation or theft of trust funds totalled about $86,000.

Gutkin tried for reinstatement in 2010 — he lost his teaching jobs in Toronto after the Law Society of Upper Canada changed a rule and required teachers of law to be members in good standing — but was denied, and then sought judicial review of the decision by the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2011, where he was also refused.

The Manitoba discipline panel which turned him down found him to be at best an unpersuasive witness and on certain points, “inconsistent and incredible,” said he didn’t fully accept responsibility for what he’d done, and continued to blame others.

In its majority decision, the panel also noted he had received a conditional discharge for an “attempted unlawful entry” in 1994. The victim was his then-life partner.

The panel was also blessedly unmoved by Gutkin’s alleged psychological difficulties: It pointed out that he’d done little to seek help beyond “somewhat” resolving “his feelings toward his parents,” which, at the age of 55, one might expect someone to have done already.

Sentencing requires a judge to weigh so-called “aggravating” factors against “mitigating” ones, and, again strangely, Judge Grossman counted Gutkin’s disbarment on the mitigating side. Ditto his acknowledgment of the facts and his agreement to the conviction, which, the judge said, made a trial unnecessary and saved the woman from testifying.

But in fact, she wanted a trial — pleaded with the prosecutor to proceed with the original charge — and the catharsis of testifying.

And it’s usually a person’s guilty plea which is counted in their favour, not a not guilty plea, with the airy claim that yes golly, he did it, but who knows why – it’s a mystery!

The maximum sentence for aggravated assault is 14 years. The prosecutor asked for only eight years; the defence lawyer wanted a sentence of 39 to 42 months. The judge settled on four, in part because of Gutkin’s “sincere expression of remorse.”

Gutkin spoke at the sentencing, saying how “deeply sorry and horrified” he was “at what occurred that night … I wish I could offer some explanation for what happened … I have no explanation.”

He had undergone a change of heart, it appears, because three or four weeks after the attack, Gutkin sent the woman through his family a two-page list of items he demanded be returned, including a spatula, a garlic press and a half bottle of shampoo. He wasn’t so sorry then.

His family wrote letters of support. His relationship with the woman was described, the judge said, as “full of love and mutual admiration, filled with much happiness, laughter and respect” – you know, until he nearly killed her.

“The events of July 26, 2012 remain a mystery in terms of why they happened,” the judge said. He took comfort that the woman was described as “resilient,” and urged upon her “the renewed approach that hopefully will flourish with eagerness and hope.”

The woman is a lawyer herself, a municipal prosecutor for fire code offences. She’s not feeling all the love the judge is; let’s leave it at that.

Postmedia News




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

The Justice Department of Ontario, that is the Attorney General's Department is a Criminal Organization is engaged in self promoting of perpetually revolving wheel where the Fascist Ontario Government promotes "Gender Superiority" programs that encourage Corrupt Crown Attorneys like VIKII BAIR, TARA DOBEC, and VIVIAN LEE to stay charges against Criminals and Child Abusers who happen to be lawyers.

Take Marguerite Isobel Lewis, a lawyer for the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, rumored to be appointed a judge despite the fact that her nickname in the legal community is "The Baby-Snatcher", a lawyer who blatantly Fabricates Evidence against Fathers to take children from Fathers and give them to the most violent of female child abusers.

Despite concrete evidence of Criminal offenses against the Administration of tJustice, the Corrupt Crown Attorneys of Ottawa simply stay the charges.
Ontario is riddled with Dead Beat Crown Attorney's who prosecute Male Victims of Domestic Violence for no other reason than it contradicts the Fascist Ontario Government Program of Gender Superiority.

Ottawa Mens Centre