What I’m about to say, may or may not, be breaking a publication ban. I’m doing my best to speak carefully as possible, but I don’t have much choice given the dire situation. Hopefully I don’t cross enough lines to get myself persecuted and if it comes down to it, I will accept the consequences. There just isn’t enough time to canvass for help individually anymore and it’s my son who is suffering without legal intervention. A mom will do anything for her child and that’s the context in which I hope you will read this. I will bring shame upon myself, no doubt. But that’s okay in the bigger picture and I accept that too.
The best way to do this is chronologically, to explain a situation of conspiracy, mixed with a perfect storm. We can’t do anything about the conspiracy part, but it’s important to know, to grasp the stress my family has been under in dealing with the perfect storm. We need an extremely qualified/specialized lawyer who is willing to work on either contingency or nearly pro bono. I’m throwing myself at everyone’s feet and while our tragedy might be less important to you, it represents a political nightmare and abuse of power so great that it threatens our justice system and more.
To share some personal background for anyone who isn’t familiar with me, I used to write politics for CBC and I covered elections. I enjoy investigative journalism and continue with those endeavours as a blogger at the Huffington Post. I’ve also been politically involved for the greatest part of my life and I am anti Conservative, admittedly so. My investigations have implicated Nigel Wright before the senate scandal ever broke. The federal labour minister and some of the most powerful people in Ontario are included on that list, as well as one justice department lawyer. The Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary is another topic I’ve covered, but mostly I think this stems from my inquiry into the privatized, free trade health care market that’s being established under our noses. I’m proud of the work I do, not from an egomaniac’s perspective. I’m just driven by the truth and I don’t take kindly to being oppressed by government control of media, which is how I lost my spot at CBC in the first place, when Harper cracked down with the sledgehammer. I’m arguably stupid and fearless, in the way I won’t back away from the truth… but I tell you that I am scared now. With that said, please let me begin the chronological breakdown.
Two years ago I published a 5 part series that investigated the privatization of health care. It was featured by CBC and the public response was reassuring, but it only grazed the surface and served as motivation to dig deeper to solve the who and how, not to mention how much. It focused on my prospective MP who has since become the Labour Minister and the way in which Helena Guergis was turfed to make room for her replacement. Harper always said he was going to change Canada so we didn’t recognize it anymore, but no one saw what was going on under the surface with health care. At least not as extensively as another year of research has uncovered. The Labour Minister is integral to making this happen and it’s clear a space needed to be made for her. Without wandering too far, she even became a fellow at the World Trade Organization, to help sell the health care free trade agreement Harper signed with 22 countries – without public debate and on our behalf. I have all the documents, you can look some of this up and I also have countless hours of private video that was never meant to see the light of day. It includes health and finance minsters, along with their CEO counterparts, amid much negotiation and celebration of $12.9 billion in various sole sourced contracts. I also have a sample of related test commercials that are yet to debut, in relation to the services you’ll have to purchase.
I’m not floating my own boat and truth be told, I wish it wasn’t me who discovered this anymore. At the beginning I thought it would make my career and I was ready to rock and roll. Now I know I have a duty to speak up, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been afraid like this before. My family has never been hurt by the work I do, but that is not the case any longer.
After the initial series was published I dealt with some pretty serious death threats. They say you’re not a real journalist if someone didn’t threaten to kill you… but this was different and very real, in a way that hit us at home. Detailed threats were published on the Conservative News of Canada by a deranged fellow, who also happened to be heavily involved in the labour minister’s election campaign (pre-appointment, upon first candidacy). One of her handlers was part of allowing this to happen too.
The death threats escalated and the Conservative News began publishing threatening videos that said he would kill police if they came to take his guns away, in response to my report. He began tracking mine and my son’s movements and publishing them, to let us know he was watching everything we did. He lives about 45 minutes from my house, but I don’t know the exact address. He planned to be at an event I organized to protest Rob Ford and cutting the poor kids’ Christmas fund. He published his plans to shoot me and Bob Rae with a Remington 700 sniper rifle from a nearby rooftop. My son would have been there as my assistant and due to the public danger, I had to cancel the event.
Needless to say, I reported everything to police and when they refused to do anything, I alerted Mr. Rae’s people. It’s not that Bob and I had planned anything together. In fact we have never spoken. It’s just this individual was being nonsensical in his wish to rid the world of those who oppose Conservatives and the now Labour Minister. He was irate about my health care series and then the Toronto protest, that happened closely in succession.
He also used the Conservative News of Canada (not an official party publication but hard to tell by the name) to begin a campaign against me, to have me removed from the CBC. He learned that I was a foster parent and he said I was abusing and exploiting children, in an effort to put an end to that too. He asked his supporters to contact CBC with similar complaints and to have my health care series removed. CBC’s executive lawyers had to get involved and they vetted my investigation thoroughly. They stood by me regarding that and I was grateful. It wasn’t until months later when the Harper changes came into effect that so many were ousted from the broadcaster, including me but it was purely related to the government’s hostile takeover.
Lawyer Peter Rosenthal also got involved, to have the Conservative News delete everything they published about me, followed by a public apology. This happened successfully and I was grateful once more. I thought that would be the end of it, but it turned out I was wrong. This is when the stalking of my family began and the individual grew angrier.
I was fairly distraught when the OPP wouldn’t do anything. We live in the backwoods (Wasaga Beach) and don’t have regional police at all. I admit I’m known in my community and it’s pretty hard not to be in such a small population. I had run for mayor and then for nomination in provincial politics. I’m the only one who organizes protests up here either. This is staunch Conservative territory and it’s a poplar place to visit for elite Harperites. Peter MacKay, Mike Duffy, Pam Wallin, Julian Fantino and many others have been to our quiet corner, planning and advancing the political agenda. So…. my son and I plus one friend were the only folks willing to protest the Prime Minister when he visited as well. The PMPD took all our information and the OPP chief was called.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years (social, political advocacy) and little can phase me, since the day Mike Harris threatened to jail me on the front page of our newspaper, for challenging the Common Sense Devolution and legality of legislation against the poor. The funny thing is I am “the poor” and I’ve spent a lifetime being a spokesperson at government venues to improve the oppression against this group. I was disabled by a drunk driver at the age of 17, when I was preparing in school to become a lawyer. My injuries became a test case under the new no-fault umbrella, that had gone into effect just days before it happened. It took a decade to resolve (favourably) and I had to sue the government itself. After years of rehabilitation and a less demanding direction in education, I went on to do this in lieu. With the state of things today though, I’m rarely paid for journalism unless it’s a substantial investigation. When I’m too sick to work (neurological damage, resembles symptoms of MS), my son and I are forced to subsist on ODSP. This is the case since leaving CBC and failure to obtain a position where I can work from home again. Disabled doesn’t mean unable, uneducated or unwilling, but it does mean that being valued will only come with extra effort and the economy doesn’t have space for the misfit toys quite yet.
Here’s where the story begins to attack the nitty-gritty, by migrating from the unactionable conspiracy and onto the perfect storm.
My son and I went to the OPP chief when the death threats were escalating. He’s 17 now, by the way. He’s an awful lot like his mom, because well, I raised him. He’s an amazing young man who gets involved in his community and politics. As a single mom he sat at the back of court rooms or at Queen’s Park growing up, with a doodle pad to keep him busy while I was speaking throughout the years. He was still in a baby carrier when I took him to Ottawa. I imagine some of it seeped in. Power of osmosis or something. You’ll hear more about him shortly, because he’s the one I’m trying to tell you about, who was hurt the most by what I do. I can’t begin to tell you how much this hurts and how many times I’ve questioned if I should have raised him to get involved. I know should have, but…. well you’ll understand in a moment.
That day the OPP chief stared me down and said I should expect death threats if I was going to write for the CBC. I’m pretty sure my jaw was on the floor and in the moment of my stunned weakness, my son spoke up for me. He looked straight into the chief’s eyes and asked him how he could let a man threaten to shoot his mom. He demanded it was illegal and said he couldn’t believe this was coming from the police. The chief looked straight back at him and said (I can almost remember this verbatim), “If a man wants to sit on your neighbour’s roof with a Remington sniper rifle pointed at your mom, he’s allowed to do it. He just can’t pull the trigger.”
If you’ve ever met my boy you could predict his indignant response. He was raised to speak truth to power, when truth really is more important than the abuse of power. I knew I had to get him out of there. That’s not to say I remained silent and we both had to go, before this grew into a verbal altercation. Every advocate needs to understand the importance of picking your battles. Arguing with law enforcement for being downright ignorant isn’t usually very fruitful.
At this point the OPP said they couldn’t do anything because all the threats were made online and they couldn’t ensure it was this individual actually making the threats, even though plenty were on video coming straight from his lips. Even though I collected the IP address for his published tirades to narrow down the vicinity. Even though he was closely known by the labour minister’s campaign team. Even though he was so intent to hurt us that he volunteered to be a martyr, saying, “I’d rather be carried by 6 than judged by 12” and police wouldn’t have enough time to save me if I called 911 after he took the shot (again, published on the Conservative News of Canada).
Lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye was gracious about looking at the evidence. I’m eternally grateful for his assistance too. He agreed my safety was in danger and there was enough evidence to investigate. He wrote the OPP commissioner to compel action, but the OPP has refused to respond or acknowledge to this day. An officer was sent to speak with the fellow’s family, but that’s all that came of it and they refused to divulge an address so I could apply for a restraining order, sticking to the story they couldn’t prove it was him due to the nature of internet. I responded by asking the matter be elevated to RCMP, but they wouldn’t do that either. There was also an issue of someone driving to our house in the middle of the night for a week straight, but that came later and still they wouldn’t do anything. (If you want my take, I believe they were protecting the labour minister from negative attention, due to the characters involved in her campaign. Julian Fantino was frequenting the campaign and I imagine his presence had some indirect influence, compelling a police force to keep this trouble under wraps. I can only speculate and it barely rationalizes half of these developments.)
In the next 5 days, our whole world fell apart and it hasn’t been put back together since. To recapitulate you, this is 2 years ago we’re talking about and it only seems to get worse. If you’re wondering, the harassment never truly stopped but it has switched gears. In the past month I received an unethical threatening letter from the labour minister’s lawyer-friend, to commence the next round. That’s being dealt with through LSUC and since it’s not the scary part, I won’t waste time elaborating but it relates to another investigative article. (In case you need context for my work and why it makes others angry, here’s a sample: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/mp-leitch_b_4124776.html)
►►Exactly 5 days after this commotion with the OPP, my telephone rang and it was none other than the OPP. They weren’t calling about the death threats or lawyer letters though. They planned to arrest my son and refused to tell us what for. When the detective refused to explain himself, the sick feeling began in my belly. My boy wasn’t known to police except for that visit with the chief and 5 days later he was suddenly being arrested. I think everyone has read 1984 and enough history books to glean some amount of suspicion. Then there’s conscious reasoning that says we live in Canada and this kind of stuff can’t happen here.
Now we’ve come to the perfect storm that could not have been planned and I don’t mean to suggest that in any way. It was a combination of so many things, but at the heart of it, someone used opportunity to go after my son in what I’m adamantly calling retribution. I know this can’t help defend my boy (sorry for all the “my son”, “my boy” and “hims”, but I’m doing my best to protect him while reaching out for help, plus trying to heed the publication ban as much as possible) and it’s not an argument I would want to offer officially. He would only be persecuted worse if I pushed to tie this to the causative factors and I’m keenly aware of that. The aforementioned is simply need to know information, but it can be confirmed through countless documents if any lawyer needed to see it to believe it.
I took my son to the OPP like they instructed. He was charged with sexual assault, but they wouldn’t tell us who, where, why, when, what or how. They said it’s an open investigation and we’d have to wait till they submitted everything to the court to find out. I know they’re allowed to do this, but the point is we were kept in the dark and completely oblivious to anything that was happening. I lodged a documented complaint with the police chief, but it was disregarded.
The school called the same evening and warned my son was being suspended. They were also seeking to expel him and they wouldn’t tell us an allegation or complainant either. They said we’d have to find out from police, but it was police that informed them as per the YCJA. This happened November 22, 2011, both events on the same day. We learned later that the OPP and school negotiated on November 21 to punish my boy, before any witnesses were spoken to, an investigation conducted or charges laid. I kid you not. It’s in their own handwriting (police notes). A mom also knows her boy better than anyone else and I swear, from the bottom of my heart, he was bewildered and had no clue what this could be about. He wracked his brain to give me anything to go on, but there wasn’t even an argument with someone at school to suspect. He wanted to visit the police station immediately to get answers.
You’ll have to bear with me as I explain some matters with the school, because my son needs a lawyer for the criminal aspect, but also to gain his education back that was illegally taken away in the process. I’m about to speak from retrospect and the benefit of receiving disclosure. It took us months to obtain, but is committed to memory now.
The Education Act is extensive and it has a specific set of rules regarding criminal allegations that arise from school property (can cite if necessary). The school must conduct a separate investigation from police, that is unbiased by law enforcement. But statements and findings in a school arena are not protected or confidential. They can even end up broadcast on the local cable channel (if appealed). With this in mind, no Legal Aid is available for school investigations/hearings and lawyers are not part of defending a client in that venue – even though everything said at the school may impact a criminal trial and this flies in the face of every Charter right imaginable. The child may not decline statement at a Principal’s Inquiry for criminal allegation (as you’re about to see), but everything said and done at the inquiry is admissible at the corresponding judicial trial. The school can essentially blackmail students to give unwilling confessions, on behalf of police and the Crown Attorney who have to respect the right to remain silent. To them it’s a beautiful loophole, I’m sure. To the child, it’s enough to question what country we’re living in.
In my son’s case, a Principal’s Inquiry was conducted (with intent to expel) although it wasn’t properly done. I had advice from a lawyer-friend for my son to remain silent and it was good advice no matter what. The thing is, we were never allowed to know what they were investigating because no one would tell us the complaint or even a date to figure out where my son might have been. We had no idea what to defend him from, for the first couple of months and all throughout this hearing. He was charged in November and we didn’t learn why until January. There are plenty of records that note our complaints.
(An important matter I should clear out of the way: If I thought, for one second, after finally seeing the evidence that my son was guilty, I would have gotten him help. I would not have tried to clear his name and set him up for worse trouble as an adult by ignoring problem behaviour. Some of my closest friends are either journalists, advocates or predominantly social workers. It would have been easy to get the right help if that’s what he needed. But that isn’t what’s wrong. What’s wrong is they targeted an innocent person and tried everything possible to ruin his life, to the extent of personal investment that crosses some truly serious lines.)
Anyway, the principal was seething and he yelled at my son to “TELL US WHAT YOU DID”. When we asked for clarification or even a date to address, the information was refused again. My son quoted the legal advice that was provided for that Inquiry and upon doing so, the principal slammed his book shut and offered one last threat. He said my son didn’t need to be told of the allegation because “he’s guilty and knows exactly what he did”. If he didn’t confess every detail immediately, he’d be expelled from school for failing to take responsibility. I interjected to remind the principal of the lawyer’s advice and he said something to the effect that only a guilty person lawyers-up. He recommended expulsion and told my boy he would never come back to school. It was a particularly brutal day and we still didn’t know what for.
My son had never been in trouble at school. He had a wonderful reputation with no disciplinary history and rather earned awards for volunteerism, as well as the Department of National Defence (air cadet flight corporal). But school administration didn’t exactly like him beforehand, because he challenged them about discrimination against the poor on a few occasions. Our foster boy (who he mentored) had his winter coat taken by the school officer (long story), then kicked off the property and sent to the snow in nothing but a t-shirt. My son tried to advocate and when they withheld the jacket, he let them know it was abusive and threatened to report it to CAS (where as the foster boy’s mentor, he often attended meetings to offer the kid support, so this thinking wasn’t out of the ordinary, however strange to the school office). He eventually pressured the principal to give it back. He challenged their exclusionary fees as well. He began trying to motivate youth interest in politics because none of the parties were organized in his school. (Long stories, not important enough to elaborate. In a nutshell, I’m proud that my son used his voice, he didn’t do anything wrong, but the administration didn’t take kindly to a kid preaching human rights to adults. We call this place Hazard County, as in Dukes of Hazard and it’s less of a joke than we’d like to admit. We’re a couple of square pegs trying to fit in round holes around here. There is no social justice community and perhaps I rubbed off on him a little too much. I’m sorry for whatever I did to contribute to the outcome.)
I was contacted quickly by the school superintendent who’s in charge of expulsions. He agreed to a meeting so we could explain our complaints and request his assistance or a venue to appeal. After an 11 page submission, the expulsion was cancelled by him directly and my son was supposed to resume classes. But right before he was supposed to go back, our telephone rang again.
►►I believe it was December 5, 2011 (I might be off by a couple days but thereabouts) and it was the OPP saying my son was going to be charged again. This time 3 counts of sexual assault and 3 counts of forcible confinement. (In case you’re wondering, I have his permission to speak because neither one of us can breathe anymore and he doesn’t know what else to do either. He’ll do whatever it takes to prove his innocence and you’re about to see how complicated this situation was made for him. He’s become the poster child for Charter rights and access to justice nightmares. By the time you’re done reading, at least you’ll be assured that no guilty person would bother to go through this.)
Gobsmacked and out of left field, this time it was a different officer. She was aware of our complaint with the OPP from the time before. She provided the information we needed and this time we learned my son wasn’t charged as the perpetrator in case #2. He was accused as an accessory and DEE (alias) was alleged to commit this. We still didn’t know a thing about the first complaint though.
This is where I skip to disclosure, police notes and school docs to give the complete overview. Any conspiring that can be addressed begins from here.
The phone rang that evening and it was the school. This time they said my son was being expelled forthwith; due to another police report, without the benefit of a school hearing or investigation the second time. If he showed up to school again, the principal would have him arrested for trespassing. Please let me be clear this was not a suspension. It was the be-all, end-all expulsion, delivered via phone call. I began writing the school board superintendent immediately, to inform they were overriding his decision and to ask for help again.
Illegally expelled, my son remained out of class for 97 days as we argued. The school board stopped communicating and refused to answer our questions, or provide the mandated hearing and appeals mechanism. They gave us the excuse their email system was down for weeks and they didn’t receive our messages. But the court disclosure was beyond amazing and it puts an elephant in their story.
The OPP negotiated with the school to expel my son. The Education Act specifically addresses this to prevent collusion, but it didn’t mean anything to them. The school insisted police were convinced of my boy’s guilt and that’s all they needed. In police notes it records the conversation, that my son would not receive his due process BECAUSE he invoked his Charter right to remain silent.
Lawyers I knew were rapidly dialed, because there MUST be an answer to abuse like this, or so I thought. This is when it hit home that you can’t do anything about quasi-criminal education matters without a spare $20 grand kicking around. It’s got to be one of the worst access to justice issues that gets totally overlooked and it really shouldn’t when the Education Act does not comply with the Charter, as it is required. I utilized the LSUC referral service for as much free advice as I could get, but also found there’s no such thing as a lawyer who is specialized in school (pardon my language) bullshit. None of them knew the ins and outs of the Education Act, at least up where we live. I came to understand the tiny case law pool was even split among its decisions, because so little of this has been tested, likely due to the access problem (addressed in a privacy commissioner special report as well).
Before I get to what I did, I want to re-address the criminal aspect so I don’t lose your attention. All these things were happening simultaneously, often in concert with one another. This is where the real doozies can be found and it makes me raw to talk about it. But from retrospect and full evidence, in the interest of my son, here we go into the thick of it.
►►When Girl #1 attended the OPP, she went to the Wasaga detachment. (This is the one we couldn’t know about when the charge was originally laid.) The allegation was reported by her new boyfriend to the girl’s grandmother, without a word from the girl or her knowledge. He “leaked” the information and it understandably upset the grandma. The grandmother then consulted with the uncle, who called police to compel his niece to attend the station. It was only after the girl was confronted by her family that she claimed an allegation of any sort. She had a history of running away, couldn’t live at home anymore and her file was too thick for police to read thoroughly. It included years of making false sexual assault complaints, incidents of mischief and being a repeat missing person. No charges were ever laid as a result of her sexual complaints in the past. It was a similar allegation recycled against every age of male, from 13 year old companions to her old boss in likely his 50s. Exactly six months before the complaint that resulted in charging my son, she accused her boyfriend of something very similar but he was never charged.
The Wasaga OPP noted that history and the allegation. She claimed to be approached by 3 males on the sidewalk in front of her school. They included her friend DEE, her friend CEE and some boy she didn’t know who’s name might begin with a “K”. She overheard them talking about planning to touch her breast, when out of nowhere they walked up to her, restrained her arms behind her back and did exactly that. She said DEE held her arms while CEE watched/encouraged and the unknown K copped a feel. This was said to happen curbside, in broad daylight, in front of everyone and businesses. However, there were no witnesses to the struggle that occurred in front of traffic on one of the main streets in Collingwood (where the school is located, all Wasaga kids are bussed).
The Wasaga OPP determined it wasn’t their jurisdiction. Although grandma reported Girl #1 had a history of lying, the family didn’t think she’d lie about something of this magnitude. An appointment was made for the following Monday with the Collingwood OPP, so she could get there from school to re-report.
Over the weekend, Girl #1 met with CEE’s sister (don’t forget CEE was accused), another female and Girl #2 (who you’ll hear about soon). When Monday rolled around, Girl #1 approached the school OPP officer instead of going to the detachment as planned. This time she changed her story and said friends of hers wished to come forward against DEE as well. She now said her incident was the result of playing Truth or Dare with CEE, DEE and a boy with my son’s first name (not the letter “K” anymore). She still didn’t know the third boy or a last name to report though.
(For context and confusion, Girl #2 is the best friend of CEE’s sister. Girl #2 was approached on the weekend by the first group including her friend. Girl #2 is also the sister of twin boys who bullied and hospitalized my son throughout most of elementary school. It was textbook, violent bullying. Head injuries, you name it. My son was injured so badly that he didn’t know me for a few days. The school had to call an ambulance because he was left unconscious and he had to be transferred to a paediatric hospital, followed by 2 weeks at home to recover from a serious concussion. Sticks, stones, fists and bashing his head off the ice, continued from grade 1 to grade 7. At that point they moved to a different catchment, but would resume the same student body when they all attended high school. My son wasn’t the only student they bullied and this family wreaked havoc to the point of infamy in the community.)
When Girl #1 reported the Truth or Dare version of her story to the school officer, he noted, “victim doesn’t know her assailant but I’m sure I do”. He was questioning the group of girls at school without most of their parents’ knowledge. You’re not allowed to interrogate kids on school property without parent notification/consent according to the Education Act, but this school board and the OPP share an inappropriately close relationship.
►►So the school obliges the officer to confirm his personal assertion. No one could identify my boy except this one constable, for his own reasons, and he never stated a reason when he began this persecution against my son. As Girl #1 and her friends waited in the principal’s office, the OPP officer accessed my son’s school record to obtain his photograph without a warrant. Between the YCJA, Education Act and FOI legislation, you can’t enter a school record unless there’s “exigent” danger like a bomb threat or something. You either need a warrant for criminal investigation, or a written freedom of information request that follows notification procedures. They chose to do neither and just took my kiddo’s image, based on the OPP’s unsupported and unofficial accusation.
No photo lineup was ever done but upon grabbing the picture, the officer accompanied the girls to the OPP detachment (nearby), where another officer was waiting to take the official report. That means they obtained my son’s photo before it was even being investigated, technically speaking. And when the official report was given 10 minutes later, Girl #1 changed her story to say that CEE, DEE and my son by first and last name were the ones who did this to her. She now claimed to know my son and said they were friends who hung out. To this day we don’t know her and only what we’ve read in court files. The only thing that changed between failing to know a third boy and naming my son as a familiar friend in the next 10 minutes, was the officer insisting he knew it was my boy and illegally obtaining his picture to share it with her. (They made us fight tooth and nail for access to all the police notes where this is documented.)
She also changed the location of her incident, actually 3 more times. It’s still not crystal clear where her final story is alleged to occur, because none of the stories add up. CEE and DEE both gave statements with alternate versions too. CEE maintained through interrogation that my son wasn’t present, while DEE who was the real perpetrator tried to blame my son in his place, when my boy’s name was raised by police. DEE has a long history of violence and sexual assault, to which he’s pleaded guilty. He cried that he didn’t want to go to jail for any more allegations and suggested he was abused at home whenever he’d get in trouble. I nearly forgot my point here, that between their stories to OPP and the school, there were a total of 10 different versions. That may be why police refused to tell us why they were charging my son in the case of Girl #1.
DEE and CEE were both suspended the same as my boy (via YCJA s125.6), but my son got twice as long and received the maximum before the illegal expulsion was meted to make his absence continue indefinitely. They explained this was due to his lack of confession, when we didn’t know the allegation and no one under the sun would tell us. In the meantime DEE and his brother were visiting my son’s stepdad’s work. The brother came to inform that DEE was sorry and taking responsibility for his actions, that our son was innocent and his brother confessed to this. It didn’t make sense at the time because DEE attended the workplace and caused a royal ruckus, to the extent the business had to ban him from attending the property. We wouldn’t understand the confession part until after Girl #2.
Close to the December 5, 2011 date, DEE returned to school. He met with Girl #2 whom he happened to be dating and both their police statements confirm a plan for her to beat up his victims/accusers to get even for Girl #1 squealing on him. Girl #2 had not reported yet but more on that in a bit. Other kids were punched out and one was shot in the face by a potato gun, losing his front teeth. Others were threatened with death, another with a knife I believe (I attended court to keep notes on developments). Girl #2′s twin brothers, the bullies, were part of the death threat incidents and pleaded guilty too.
I may not have a kind bone in my body toward the family of Girl #2, but that doesn’t make me a monster who could look away from the following. It’s been established through court docs that DEE was paying Girl #2′s twin brothers, for their help to sexually assault their sister over the course of that entire year. Once DEE paid the brother $200 to hold her down while he committed full fledged rape. This story and exchange of money is confirmed by 3 witness statements, but they all deny DEE penetrated and say they kept the money “just because”. Sometimes DEE would treat them to expensive lunches after having his way (usually touching her breasts). Girl #2 and her brother would walk for hours to meet DEE for the next assault, followed by a reward she always accepted. I couldn’t know the dynamics of this relationship and can only say she kept going back while describing DEE as a best friend. They all talked about the generous money they received from DEE, for doing what he wanted on a regular basis. Sometimes “rapes” were being negotiated at school. But the police wouldn’t investigate further or lay charges against the brothers, despite numerous details of collaborating with DEE to abuse Girl #2, if in fact she wasn’t willing. The only way police could fail to act is if they believed Girl #2 was prostituting and her brothers were the welcome brokers. When I took this concern to the school board because much was alleged on school property, they refused to listen as well.
So the day perpetrator DEE goes back to school, he negotiates with Girl #2 to arrange beatings as retaliation against Girl #1. CEE is involved with DEE at the same time, as they returned to class together. Girl #2 reports to boyfriend DEE that CEE’s sister is pressuring her to make a complaint against him, to support her own that was previously rejected by police. CEE’s sister did Girl #2 the courtesy of pre-reporting sexual assault on Girl #2′s behalf, if you want to grasp how much pressure was being exerted to make her come forward with something.
DEE is the repeat offender and boyfriend of Girl #2
CEE is the male best friend of DEE
Girl #2′s twin brothers are close friends with DEE and CEE
Girl #1 is close friends with DEE and CEE
CEE’s sister is the best friend of Girl #2
CEE’s sister is close friends with Girl #1 and collaborated a group complaint over the weekend
In the meantime my boy is stuck at home, he doesn’t know Girl #1, the nature of an allegation and Girl #2′s brothers are his longtime bullies. I’m sorry if this seems complicated and unnecessary. You’ll have to trust it’s integral to know, when you find out later what happened to my son.)
Girl #2 doesn’t go straight to police like her friend is asking. She also decides she doesn’t want to beat up DEE’s victims/adversaries anymore, so she needed to speak with him first. To get out of that arrangement, she negotiates with DEE to visit in the school bathroom, for 3 days in a row to make out and make it up to him. This happens between Girl #2 and DEE only (documented by police and key to my son’s defence, so please remember). Amid their discussion about the pressure from CEE’s sister to make a new report against DEE, DEE is reported to laugh about it and welcome the stunt as new notch in his belt. I admit this sounds completely nuts, until I saw his second police video (explained soon).
The next day, Girl #2 approaches a youth worker at the local centre and poses a hypothetical question. She says this happened to a friend 2 weeks ago (which happens to be the date CEE’s sister pre-reported on her behalf to police). She says 4 boys wrestled her into a school bathroom, 3 days in a row, to be assaulted by DEE for failing to beat up his victims. When the worker explains that charges could be laid against the whole group, Girl #2 breaks down crying and says this really happened to her.
She says 2 weeks ago that my son, a handicapped boy and 2 other boys she refuses to name, forced her to be assaulted by DEE. Three days in a row they dragged her through the school to the same bathroom, in front of all the other students as classes ended for the day. There were however no witnesses except the school janitor and this bathroom is adjacent to the exit doors nearly every student is passing through. One little caveat is this story differs wildly from the incident CEE’s sister pre-reported. CEE’s sister told police that Girl #2 would eventually come forward to confirm DEE sexually grabbed them both while walking down a school hallway together.
Girl #2 wouldn’t confirm the story of CEE’s sister and no charges were ever laid against DEE from his best friend’s sibling, despite her police report. Girl #2 told a story about herself, that didn’t involve her friend like she was pressured. In this negotiating and among police statements, the OPP declined to charge CEE for Girl #1 as well. Brother and sister CEE were important to connecting the 2 cases, but police wouldn’t lay charges pertaining to either one of them (as complainant or accused). A couple months later, CEE’s sister was removed from the home, CEE wasn’t allowed to be near her and she became a Crown Ward in short order (confirmed via statements and court record).
The youth worker called the Collingwood OPP and Girl #2′s official statement began. Again it was 4 boys and she refused to name 2 of them. Again it was 2 weeks ago, at the same time her friend reported.
The only problem is everyone realized my son never returned to school. He couldn’t have been a student when she originally said this happened (date twice confirmed). She then changed her date to 2 months ago instead of 2 weeks. No one ever asked how her memory could lapse so badly. There was either snow on the ground or the trees were full of leaves, but even her witness brother contradicted the seasons from summer to winter.
►►The OPP and school accessed my son’s school record, again without a warrant. They confirmed my son couldn’t be implicated because he wasn’t there, based on this information. Girl #2 was asked to change her date and she offered another. This time they went in my son’s school record without a warrant and found it was a Thanksgiving holiday, so no students could have been present. She was asked to change it a third time and finally the school was able to break my son’s Charter rights by confirming the third try was at least plausible.
None of these details appeared in the Crown Attorney’s or OPP’s synopses. They can only be found in police notes, but the date changing and school help is definitely recorded. It would appear they didn’t let Girl #2 give a video statement until they finally got a story that could work, based on that third date that was 2 months earlier than the original allegation. They also never interrogated for the 2 male names she adamantly withheld.
►►This brings us to the court instalment of our nightmare and the worst of it yet. Our trial management judge is a godsend and the fairest person I’ve ever met. On the flip side, our one trial judge was previously disciplined by the bench for discrimination that caused province-wide revolt (against a gay person, generated plenty of headlines, tried to force the victim to wear a hazmat suit or wouldn’t let him in the court room, thought the gay disease HIV could live for decades on anything he touched. I guess I don’t have to say Hazard County anymore, because this epitomizes what I’m talking about).
So, we had a really hard time getting a lawyer at the onset. It’s a complex case and we only have court ordered Legal Aid (s25.4). The director of LA was even summonsed to court by the good judge, when some were working to get my son’s file a special designation that results in extra hours (however unsuccessfully). The Crown Attorney originally submitted the case as a single trial to cover both complaints, because the conspiring group was intensely connected and so was the evidence.
BUT. The Crown Attorney withheld the evidence from Girl #1 for a year and a half. We got all the way to JPT (judicial pretrial) and they still couldn’t produce it. Originally my friends had moved a few mountains and helped us get an aggressive lawyer through Osgoode. Unfortunately Mr. Zeldon suffered a heart attack and any new files had to be cancelled. We reported this to another judge and he flatly disbelieved us. A few lawyers interjected to let him know it was true, but he refused to believe them either and it was really quite the spectacle. This substitute judge claimed to have seen the lawyer a week ago and thought he was fine. (It appears we’re back in that alternate reality and we couldn’t make this up if we tried. This time it was a lawyer laying in hospital from a heart attack that didn’t exist.) Needless to say we were forced to retain counsel from in town immediately. We were only given about a week or do this, or face repercussions from the court and the disbelieving judge.
After the nice judge who everyone adores intervened as best he could (hearing with the Legal Aid director), Brian McLellan was compelled to sign on, despite a heavy dose of reluctance. The problem is we only have approximately 8 lawyers to do all legal work. They’re predominantly real estate lawyers covering the criminal gap to help the court move along. Plus Girl #1, Girl #2, the twin brothers, DEE, CEE, CEE’s sister and any witnesses all had criminal records. My son was the only person who didn’t and there isn’t a local lawyer who wouldn’t be in conflict of interest.
But off we went, with the only representation we could have. It was either that or my son would be incarcerated for failing to meet the judge’s order to produce counsel pronto. We didn’t learn until later that my son’s reluctant lawyer sat on the women’s shelter board of directors, where Girl #1 was living. We can only guess she fled her grandma’s house as well, but he never declared a conflict. (If you’re wondering how I knew, in small towns word travels, plus my son had to shoulder threats all along from the DEE entourage. Some of this was reported to police, but the Crown Attorney dropped the charges and refused to let us explain the damage to a judge. That damage resulted in our community farm closing and they didn’t care that we couldn’t supply the food bank with 12 tons of free vegetables because of the harm brought to both my son and our family project. Those concerns are documented too and stamped declined by the Crown Attorney.)
Where are we now? Okay, JPT and 1.5 years later. As you know the client isn’t allowed to participate in that hearing and a number of developments transpired. The Crown Attorney was ordered to produce the missing evidence and the complaints were split in 2 separate trials, to allow for time the prosecution needed to locate videos about Girl #1. I wasn’t okay with this. My son wasn’t okay with it either. His 11B Charter rights were waived on his behalf, without consulting us whatsoever. We knew these cases were connected and always said so. We just couldn’t prove it until the evidence arrived from Girl #1 to confirm inconsistencies and conspiring. My son’s lawyer negotiated a deal, that if the Crown won a conviction on Girl #2, they would drop the case for Girl #1. That’s great if you’re a guilty person except my son is not – and it doesn’t matter anyway because the Crown Attorney reneged on that agreement after the verdict too. It was part of their trade to convince my son’s lawyer to grant the 11B waiver, but they never kept their word, as promised at the JPT proceeding (confirmed by the reluctant lawyer in writing).
Our trial was scheduled for Girl #2, even though chronologically we needed to discuss the conspiring with Girl #1 to make our case about Girl #2. Even though the evidence we needed remained unavailable after 1.5 years and the wait continued (when researching case law I discovered R v. Mahmoud and it’s a different scenario, but the parameters mirror my son’s situation and this never should have happened). The reluctant lawyer hadn’t read my son’s case before entering JPT or met with us to discuss the details though. He kept saying he had to conserve his hours and only met with us for 1 hour in the entire course of events. That happened after JPT and signing my son’s rights away, but as you might have guessed by the story pattern, things took a turn for the worse. (Important point here is the cases should have never been split because #1 was needed to prove perjury from #2 and when the severing occurred, we weren’t allowed to talk about Girl #2 in relation to Girl #1 anymore.)
I have an email discussing how distressing that 1 hour meeting truly was. The reluctant lawyer apologized after receiving, but his actions speak louder than words. We were supposed to be going over the case, what witnesses we needed to call upon and the trial strategy overall, for Girl #2. He didn’t do that and instead interrogated my son in a way I can’t forgive. Hopefully this is buried far enough along that anyone who doesn’t care about us won’t be paying attention to notice. My son was under so much stress trying to school himself, dealing with the threats, near house arrest due to the circumstances and its continued like this for 2 years. He is the picture of mental health (confirmed), but he was struggling with suicidal ideation for a while. We sought 2 different councillors to teach coping skills and that was coming along, but when we told his lawyer we couldn’t have imagined what would happen.
The reluctant lawyer accused him of making it up to gain sympathy from the court and to hide his guilt from the lawyer. He seemed to miss that we were trying to keep this private and it was shocking to hear after a year and a half of professing to believe in my son’s innocence. It was a hostile interrogation and I got so upset that I had to leave the room to regain my composure. This wasn’t prepping for cross examination because my son wasn’t supposed to testify. The guy put us both in tears with the most vicious allegation and we had to take it because we couldn’t have another lawyer. Some of my lost sleep was due to staying up so I could check on my boy on the tougher nights. There’s no sicker feeling a parent could experience, akin to a missing child and his spirit certainly was. If you kick a person enough times when they’re down, there’s bound to be a reaction. There were post-it notes on the back of his door with numbers to call if he needed them. It was humiliating to be attacked by his own lawyer because he needed support and there was no other venue where my son was allowed to talk (publication ban).
Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote a compelling report on access to justice and wrongful conviction. We could recite it like a daily mantra, because that’s exactly what we’re living and know these effects by heart. You can take the strongest person in the world, but if you deny their access to justice it will harm the most stoic mind, especially when the person realizes that justice is withheld simply because they’re poor. I do not encourage victimization because it doesn’t invite confidence or healing. But c’mon. He’s a kid. He lost everything including his future and what did anyone expect? (More on that soon, as the Crown Attorney extended his reach well beyond the court room.)
My son needed his day in court and here was his lawyer accusing him of lying about seeking support for suicidal ideation. As if he played the sympathy card to cover up “what he’d really done”. We never got a chance to discuss matters for the trial because he was fixated on trying to convince my boy to confess to something he didn’t do. The lawyer never had a chance to speak with the school janitor, but we knew she refuted the complainant and said Girl #2′s story was untrue. She admitted being a witness but denied any commotion at the bathroom. She denied seeing or speaking with my son. When the bully twins were questioned by police, they mistakenly admitted to being the ones at the bathroom and both said my son wasn’t in the school. He had an alibi x3, even if 2 of them were hostile. When your enemy admits doing the very thing you’re accused of, it should be compelling to at least your own lawyer, but there was no time to listen because he was more concerned to attack a boy’s mental health and force a confession.
We had 8 witnesses that needed to be called and the reluctant lawyer wasn’t interested in hearing about them, because he refused to represent a client that didn’t testify on their own behalf and he wasn’t buying my son’s counselling could be real. I didn’t see the point in putting my boy on the stand, when the case was easy to make without him and he was coping with being fragile from the whole mess. Let us not forget the multiple searches without a warrant and the dates he couldn’t have been at school.
We left distraught and said we’d put him on the stand, only if it was necessary. It’s not like he couldn’t testify to his innocence, but I was afraid the suicidal ideation would be used against him, with the potential to become worse if we put any more pressure on him. (For the record my son accepted months of counselling and made it through the other side. It wasn’t until the heart wrenching verdict, coming to terms and having to pick ourselves up for the appeal though. I reiterate that spat is documented by a 7 page email and at no other time was our communication adversarial.)
The reluctant lawyer made it very clear that Legal Aid wouldn’t give him enough hours to work on our case and he expressed frustration that he was subsidizing my son by working for $25/hour (after deducting for staff, which he bothered to break down for us. We thanked him profusely for the sacrifice but it didn’t appear to mitigate his harsh feelings about work that was nearly pro bono in his opinion). We always knew the lawyer was cantankerous about getting roped into this by the court, but we couldn’t have known he was opposed to my son until that 1 hour, heartless interrogation at the office. (If this seems like conjecture, it will become important when I explain what happened at the trial.)
Every story has two sides and it won’t help progress if I don’t share his though. Upon apologizing, the reluctant lawyer claimed he was testing my son to be convinced that he’s innocent, because he couldn’t agree to represent someone as innocent if there’s any chance they weren’t. This happened after JPT, but it was all just a test. He said it was standard to do this and my experience with lawyers doesn’t resemble his tactic, but so be it. There was no time to split hairs and we needed a good relationship, as the trial for Girl #2 was only weeks away and I still had to do all the prep work. He wouldn’t talk with us throughout because Legal Aid didn’t cover it and he planned to conserve the time by making me do all the work at the last minute. The last minute part was apparently strategy so it stayed “fresh in his memory” and he claimed to work on all his cases the same way.
With only 2 weeks before the trial I was instructed to put together questions for each and every witness. It’s not that I could write them without leading or other non-lawyer mistakes, but he said he planned to learn the case this way and it gave me a mountain of work to do. I didn’t stop and barely napped for those 2 weeks. I kept plugging along, knowing my son was hanging in the balance. If this doesn’t seem normal, we didn’t think it was either. But what choice did we have if he wouldn’t prepare the line of questioning? If it doesn’t seem believable then rest assured I have the responding emails that ask me to hurry up and send the rest.
A couple days before the trial for Girl #2, the Crown Attorney informed he was cancelling all but 2 of the prosecution witnesses. This was contrary to JPT, there were no voir dires and no one defended my son by calling this an abuse of process. They wouldn’t even call police to the stand and took steps to suppress them. We needed the police to testify because that’s the funny thing about being innocent, is even their investigation will help illuminate the truth. Without police testimony we couldn’t address the lack of warrant to access my son’s school record. Not once, not twice, but three times until they got a story that could finally be alleged. Nor could we cross examine about the bully brother statements, that gave my son an alibi and took responsibility for key parts of the allegation.
The bully brothers and janitor were cancelled from testifying and so was perpetrator DEE along with them. All charges against DEE that stem from Girl #2 were dropped (and there were more besides the bathroom). Technically speaking there was no crime committed for my son to be an accessory. The court would never get to hear it though, because of a trick that followed.
To paint a very clear picture of what the reluctant lawyer did, first I must explain the subpoenas. When the Crown informed they were cancelling all the witnesses, he got in touch to let us know. It is then we learned that he wanted us to do all this legwork too. Instead of wasting his Legal Aid hours or using a PI, I was told to locate where everyone must be served, so we could call them in lieu (with discussion of possible hostile witness applications and consent if this was necessary). I only had a couple days to do this and he forced me to attend the complainant’s home to confirm the address. I don’t care how poor a client is, I’m positive you’re not supposed to send them to the accuser’s house and we had no choice but to do this on Easter. If we didn’t, the brothers wouldn’t be served in time for the trial. I was cordially polite and only spoke with the mom, but there are few words to describe how awkward.
Thankfully everyone arrived to court as planned. But on the first day of trial our lawyer called in sick, even though we’d spoken with him in good health by telephone. On the second day of trial our judge had a heart attack. It happened the night before and the infamous headline judge was sent as a replacement. This was the second time we were impacted by folks having heart attacks and we wish them the best recovery. It’s just another bout of unpredictability that marked this entire process.
►►On to the trial then. I’m running out of steam trying write this and I will attempt to cover only the highlights. Please forgive that my language/grammar is slipping, but I’m tired and must finish so I can get this to someone asap. We’re back in court tomorrow and about to have our arses handed to us, for being without counsel again.
Girl #2 testified. She committed gross perjury and the Crown Attorney helped. I realize what I’m saying and I mean to, as difficult a problem as this presents. The girl denied changing her date of allegation once, let alone three times and she attempted to discredit the youth worker who’d taken notes. The police could have confirmed this lie, but again they weren’t allowed to testify due to the Crown’s suppression. Since the youth worker was already subpoenaed, the Crown Attorney intervened by advising her to stay home without notifying anyone, including the court. We had to add an extra day to the trial, just to get her back when they admitted what they’d done. The Crown said they didn’t think she was needed and didn’t want her to miss a day of university, when they didn’t believe she could add anything. This is the first responder we’re talking about.
In Girl #2′s testimony, she denied reporting extra incidents with DEE, aside of the school bathroom. The Crown Attorney knew he laid charges for additional incidents between Girl #2 and DEE, that came before the court in the very same package (in different months, in taxi cabs, with her brothers who received payment from DEE for allowing). But the Crown didn’t see fit to correct the lie and let her vow up and down that she only ever complained about DEE in the bathroom. (Stay with me, the jaw dropping moments are yet to come, but you’ll need the foundation to grasp how vindictive.)
Our lawyer tried to play her video statement to prove the girl was being immensely dishonest. The Crown Attorney then argued CCC Section 276 to prevent the defence from doing so, in an effort to protect the complainant’s perjury. In lieu we had to break many times, while she was sent into an office to refresh her memory by watching the video statement in private. Every time she returned to the stand and continued lying directly. She even denied her brothers were at the bathroom, when they both gave police statements to the contrary. At no point did the Crown Attorney indicate their knowledge of this deceit, under oath.
When it came to describing the 3 day bathroom plan, she accused my son of being the one to broker the deal. Her video proved the negotiation was private between her and DEE, related to their victim beating plans, and the Crown Attorney was forced to admit she added a new story about my son that was never shared with anyone before that moment. She continued to say the janitor was involved and my son prevented staff from entering the bathroom. She denied telling the youth worker and police that 4 boys wrestled her in the bathroom, insisting it was my son and the handicapped boy. All authorities were wrong about the notes they took, according to Girl #2.
Next the prosecution called the handicapped boy. He was charged with the same 6 counts as my son (3x sexual assault, 3x forcible confinement), but his father made him plead to 1 count of simple assault in a deal. During his testimony he fell asleep on the stand. His video was allowed to play and in 46 minutes, he said he didn’t know or didn’t understand 45 times – and he really didn’t. He couldn’t pronounce the charges. He agreed he must be guilty though, because that’s what he was told. We can’t fault the boy for his disabilities, but he was instructed to admit whatever was said about him and to blame my son for making him do it (via his dad, on police video).
►►With this the prosecution rested and it was our turn. The court recessed and this was the first time our lawyer interviewed the janitor. He did it in the hallway in front of us and all the other witnesses who were waiting to testify. She was adamant about a lack of commotion or incident at the bathroom and she continued to deny any interaction with my son. She had never seen him before this day and was sure he didn’t stop her from being able to enter the bathroom. She denied anyone prevented her from entering the bathroom. She went in like normal, as always, and there was nothing to report. This was great and my boy’s alibi was solid. The janitor was positively present and she refuted everything Girl #2 described. She summed it up by saying that if there was an incident of any sort, she would have been obligated to document and inform the school.
I’m not sure if it was a good idea to question the woman in front of other witnesses, especially when they included the complainant’s twin brothers and DEE, who’d be up next. There was an empty office a few feet away, but for whatever reason it wasn’t used. The janitor’s testimony was so important because Girl #2 explained a dramatic situation involving the woman, to place my son at the scene amid a pushing incident. The handicapped boy repeated the janitor story as well. If you saw his video you’d understand. He forgot he had a brother who lives with him and he repeats whatever he’s told, literally.
All this time my son was alone in his trial. His stepdad attended but he’s not a legal guardian, so he wasn’t able to give input. I had to wait in the hallway too because I was supposed to testify.
Court reconvenes and the janitor is called. Our lawyer asked how far the bathroom is located from the exit doors and how busy this hallway is at the end of class. He didn’t ask anything else. The Crown Attorney helped by declining to question the witness. Without asking her questions about the alleged incident she was sworn by the prosecution to witness, there was no point inviting the janitor to testify. There are no words for this. We don’t understand.
Court recessed again and the reluctant lawyer huddled us in an office. He said he couldn’t call any of our witnesses because of the S. 276 assertion and this included me, the mom. He said my boy was the only one who could testify and he’d have to take the stand or the defence would be forced to rest. We were broadsided. He sent the people we subpoenaed home and I finally entered the courtroom. My son had maybe 5 minutes’ notice and the only thing I could think to say, is make sure he hears the questions clearly. I know he has a hearing deficiency and he’d need to be confident in his answers. Just tell the truth and nothing should go wrong.
For anyone unfamiliar with Section 276, essentially it’s protection of the complainant’s past in a sexual assault scenario. It limits the defence from questioning the person’s behaviour and in this case, it stripped our defence to nil. It prevented us from addressing Girl #2 conspiring with DEE to beat his victims in retaliation, conspiring to fabricate a story when coming forward, mentioning the decade of violent bullying from Girl #2′s family, the many times money was exchanged for sexual favours between Girl #2, DEE and her brothers; the additional charges she pressed against DEE (even though it was needed to prove perjury), or that all charges were dropped against DEE as a perpetrator relating to Girl #2. DEE was no longer charged for assaulting her in the bathroom, but my son was on trial for helping him do it and we weren’t allowed to talk about it. We couldn’t call DEE to the stand to ask him what he did or didn’t do.
Nor could we mention DEE’s criminal record for sexual assault on Girl #2′s friends, that he was dating Girl #2 when these events transpired, his violent history and threats to silence others, or his paying relationship with Girl #2′s bully brothers to get the job done. We couldn’t mention that during interrogation for Girl #2, DEE admitted to lying about Girl #1 and eventually amended the record by submitting a written confession that took responsibility for the charge against my boy (just like his brother informed when he visited, confirmed by DEE’s police video). A set-up and police confession we couldn’t talk about. We couldn’t play his hour of video where he breaks down crying, begging to be forgiven for lying in the first place.
We were told we couldn’t speak about the bully brothers’ history of accepting payment from DEE to commit sexual assault on their sister and since all talk of their past was suppressed, we couldn’t mention the brothers’ participation at the bathroom either. They both placed my son at the buses outside the school and admitted they were the ones who did most of the things their sister alleged against my boy. Unfortunately their testimony was out.
Finally, we couldn’t call the police officer to the stand, even though she’d been waiting with her notes, as subpoenaed, the whole time. Because her investigation touched on all these things and the additional charges between Girl #2 and DEE, the OPP wasn’t allowed to give evidence, or so we were informed by counsel. Because I knew about the bullying history from this family, that nixed me as well. I’d never heard of a trial where the police are blocked from testifying before.
We didn’t believe Section 276 was meant to enable blanket abuse of a defendant’s right to fair trial. We thought the arguments of perjury plus conspiring were relevant to challenge this assertion. Our lawyer declined to make that effort and remained silent when the Crown Attorney utilized this tactic. He told us it was pointless and we couldn’t get our evidence entered. He painted this development as an unfortunate blow to my son that could not be overcome. He advised we’d have to come to terms that our entire defence was cancelled. The transcript reflects that he declined to object or utter a single word in response to the Crown Attorney’s S. 276 argument. He didn’t take any steps to represent my son in that regard. There was no lost argument because none was made at all.
In bewilderment, my son took the stand and he did truly great. I was surprised he did that well given the circumstances, but I guess we’d been through it with the school board enough times for the past 2 years. He didn’t fumble a single answer and the Crown Attorney couldn’t berate him into screwing up, no matter how hard he tried. My son had to ask for a few questions to be repeated to hear them, but other than that it was all we could have hoped. I was almost relieved for a minute and quietly clapping in my heart. The truth supported him well and you can’t change the truth, no matter how many ways the questions are spun. Whereas the prosecution was full of nothing but inconsistency, the defence, although limited, was solid. The Section 276 development reduced the trial to a matter of he-said, she-said credibility, when the alibis couldn’t be presented. But it wasn’t our side that had to explain lying on the stand with a string of excuses.
The next day the youth worker arrived to testify. She confirmed the date of incident reported by Girl #2, as the one that meant my son couldn’t have been a student at the school. He was already suspended and expelled. She confirmed 4 boys allegedly wrestled Girl #2 in the bathroom, whereas Girl #2 insisted she only reported 2 helpers under oath. The youth worker was solid in her testimony, with supporting notes as well.
Closing statements remained true to Kafka if we have to name a theme. The Crown Attorney made new arguments that we couldn’t respond to, even though this tactic is not permitted. He insisted my son was abused by me at home and through that abuse, I forced him to plead innocent. But no testimony had ever been given about my son’s home or family life. The word abuse or mention of me had never arose in the trial before now. He said I paid good money to have my boy’s testimony prepared by an entire team of professionals, even though the court and our lawyer was wholly aware of our disadvantage on Legal Aid. He said my son’s testimony was “perfect” and this wasn’t normal. He said the complainant’s countless missteps were more realistic, because anyone should forget an incident that happened to them a year ago. To be able to answer consistently was abnormal.
Although there was no talk of mental illness in my son, no evidence submitted or testimony offered in support of this allegation, the Crown Attorney asserted that psychosis was the only thing that could account for his testimony being perfect. He said my son was the ringleader who concocted this plan and he forced every party to participate to quench his thirst for evil, including DEE the perpetrator. He closed with, by the way, all charges were dropped against DEE in this case through a plea deal. He didn’t mention how many girls DEE pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting in that deal or why the charges for Girl #2 were the only ones they didn’t prosecute. He didn’t explain how my son was the only party who could be prosecuted for sexual assault for allegedly standing in the hallway, when DEE didn’t merit charges for doing the alleged touching in the bathroom.
The defence closing argument was almost nil. The reluctant lawyer didn’t address anything in the Crown Attorney’s closing statement. He didn’t explain my son only had 5 minutes’ notice that he was being forced to testify and it wasn’t in the trial plan, nor was he on the witness list. He didn’t explain we couldn’t have known to prep his testimony, let alone afford “a team of trained professionals”, as an impoverished family on Legal Aid. He didn’t address these new accusations of abuse and the slander against our family. He didn’t address new accusations of mental derangement. What he did do was ask for a moment “to meander with his thoughts”. My son didn’t know what the word meander meant. It’s upset him ever since he realized his lawyer didn’t prepare a closing statement of any sort. Go ahead, say “meander” to him and see what happens. You’ll hear an awful lot about the non-existent defence on his behalf. The reluctant lawyer flipped through some papers and stood there staring, as opposed to saying very much.
►►The verdict came right away. Guilty of 1 count sexual assault. There was no ruling on the other 2 counts of sexual assault or the 3 counts of forcible confinement. It was all wrapped into the single summary conviction, without application to amend from either side. The Crown Attorney was then directed to withdraw the other charges, but this was subsequent to the judge’s decision and due to his instruction after delivering the verdict. The judge modified the trial within the verdict and we don’t know if this would technically mean he found my son innocent on the extra 5 counts. The decision to withdraw was made by the court after evaluating the evidence and deciding upon it.
But if there was no forcible confinement, then the girl wasn’t pushed in the bathroom to be assaulted and my son’s role as an accessory couldn’t be possible from yet another perspective. That pushing was the only thing he was accused of doing, plus interfering with the janitor. Instead the judge found my son guilty of being the mastermind, because the handicapped boy couldn’t be responsible for himself. He found my son guilty of sexual assault, when the perpetrator doing the kissing and touching alone with his girlfriend wasn’t.
The verdict questioned the credibility of Girl #2, but her lies were excused and the judge found it reasonable for her to mislead the court in an effort to protect her brothers. He used that to bolster her credibility instead of diminish it and lying under oath to keep family from getting charged was perfectly understandable. (I’ve paraphrased, but the written verdict says this.) Moreover he said it didn’t matter if the brothers were involved at the bathroom, as their participation would have been inconsequential.
The judge discredited the youth worker despite noting her solid testimony and supporting notes. He said Girl #2 never changed her date of allegation and the youth worker must have misheard when she first reported. (Of course police never testified about the 3 date changes and lack of warrant.)
The judge said ultimately, he believed Girl #2 despite her many inconsistencies, because she never spoke with her perpetrator again. He didn’t have the benefit of knowing they continued to meet for months, to plan beatings against his other victims. He didn’t know about the other charges and planned “rapes” between the girl and DEE for the year surrounding the bathroom allegation. He never heard she walked for hours to meet with her perpetrator, for a pattern of sexual favours that were met with monetary reward. Instead he believed the worst of her perjury and hinged the verdict on it.
The judge decided my son’s perfect testimony was the result of being “pathological” and abuse at home that forced him to plead innocent. He nearly quoted the Crown Attorney’s closing statement for most of his decision. He cautioned himself about a defendant’s right to trial, but followed with insisting that being pathological caused my son to lie about his innocence and all society should be afraid because he didn’t confess his guilt on the witness stand. He called my son arrogant due to his hearing problem, for asking that questions be repeated. He also said my son was lying about his good nature and going to church, because no teenage male would behave this way if not abused by their mom. No kidding. I think my lips were bleeding from biting them as the verdict was being delivered.
The judge ordered a litany of psychological tests to prove my son’s insanity for the sake of sentencing. With that we exited the courtroom and the tears fell.
In this very moment, the reluctant lawyer let us know he received the missing evidence from Girl #1. We fought for 1.5 years to obtain it and made an appointment to view in his office the next day. Before leaving we needed to gain our composure. I looked straight in my son’s eyes and said how sorry I was. I said I know it’s not what we expected, but this only meant we were in it for the long haul and we’d have to prepare an appeal to get our evidence heard.
The reluctant lawyer informed he didn’t do appeals and we’d have to find someone else. We agreed it was for the best and he informed the court immediately that he was removing himself from record, on mutual agreement. The next day he reported to Legal Aid that we fired him and due to this, our application to find a new lawyer was denied (we still have to prepare for the trial relating to Girl #1). We were told we can’t pick new lawyers and we’d have to learn to work with the one we’ve got. They were unsympathetic to anything we said and blamed us for firing the guy. The thing is, everyone in the justice system has explained that appeals are special. Not every lawyer can do them and you need experience to take that on. It’s against the code of conduct to accept work for which you’re not qualified and because he’d never done an appeal, he could not accept the case even if we wanted. Aside of the fact we needed a less reluctant lawyer, this situation left us with a quit-lawyer and no ability to seek another.
►►The next day we attended to examine the long missing evidence from Girl #1′s case. It confirmed the conspiring between this group and Girl #2, with Girl #2′s name plainly stated. It created another issue of perjury we never knew about, because it related to other incidents between Girl #2 and DEE that she had denied in testimony. We had to take the consolation prize that at least this was new evidence and it wasn’t provided to us until the trial closed. It clearly indicated there was another witness who should have been called (CEE’s sister, best friend of Girl #2). However, we didn’t learn until months later the reluctant lawyer received this from the Crown Attorney a couple weeks before the trial for Girl #2. He just failed to examine it or tell us, so we could. At so many status hearings throughout the 1.5 years, we pleaded for these videos because we knew they were important. We can’t explain why he disregarded.
In the next couple weeks my mom died. It’s the first family death my son was impacted by and he had to be a pallbearer. A couple days after burying her, he was supposed to submit for psychological testing and we didn’t have a lawyer to intervene for postponement. I contacted the Provincial Advocate and he graciously referred us to Justice For Children and Youth. It’s a Legal Aid clinic that’s dedicated to children’s rights and they helped in this regard. They also tried to help us find a new lawyer, because our local search was exhaustive and unsuccessful.
The next month my son attended for the psych assessments, although he was still unrepresented. It was 2 appointments with a psychiatrist and 2 appointments with a psychologist. He passed with flying colours. Everything they tested for was negative (quite the checklist) and my son was confirmed to lack any psychosis whatsoever. He did not exhibit any defiant tendencies. He was not abused and had a good relationship with his mom. We were quietly vindicated, but even this wouldn’t count for much.
In the meantime we were getting in plenty of trouble from the trial judge. A respected staff lawyer from our Legal Aid district helped deliver a message to the court. They confirmed canvassing most lawyers in the region and none were available to take the case. This lack of counsel was not due to our lack of relentless trying. Justice For Children and Youth (JFCY) also scoured the Toronto area and couldn’t come up with anyone. Travel isn’t covered for a long distance lawyer on Legal Aid and this case was already too complicated to attract counsel on such limited subsidy.
As a result, the judge changed his tune for a single day and offered to appoint counsel on my son’s behalf. We just needed to give him a name. While all this was going on, I met with Errol Mendes and he kindly helped us get an appointment with Paul Copeland. I was grateful for general advice about the Charter that Prof Mendes shared and I thought (of my own doing) it could be applied to the school matters (explained soon).
Upon our gracious meeting with Mr. Copeland, we learned he was occupied with a Supreme Court matter. Plus no one had obtained the trial transcripts yet, to opine about an appeal. At this very moment a Supreme Court decision was made that affected my son as well. No longer could court appointed lawyers receive better wages than Legal Aid offered. It put an end to our one small saving grace and precluded incentive for a Toronto lawyer to get involved. Not only would they be driving for 4 hours (here and back), but they’d also have to pay for it out of pocket. We would really need someone who could do this pro bono and our next step was to contact Clayton Ruby and pray till the cows came home. We didn’t know if he would take an interest, but I thought maybe he would listen because of this terrible access to justice issue.
The thing is (realistically), few people worry about a summary conviction (indictable being more serious). They figure my son is a kid and this will eventually go away, except the judge made an order for DNA (plus wait till you see how the sentence affected school). Just about no one in Ontario wants the burden of a complex appeal without pay and we’re nobody’s favourite friend for needing to make an inadequate counsel argument. I understand that. I do. My son understands that. We wish it wasn’t like this more than anyone. But we don’t know what to do and he’s suffocating with no ability to appeal or find counsel for the next trial, when everything got so messed up by other people. I know I wouldn’t feel great about having to fix someone else’s mess, but somehow we need to do the impossible.
That’s when JFCY agreed to take the case and put a young lawyer on record. For the time being, our search would be over. They had great intentions and although our new counsel wasn’t experienced in appeals, they promised the whole team would be working on it with support. They sent for the transcripts and discussion about this occurred on record at court. We just had to wait for that and proceed to sentencing as the bureaucracy moved along.
►►Before I address sentencing, I’ll have to revisit matters with the school board, because it impacted the sentence so dramatically and can’t continue.
When my son was illegally expelled for 97 days and all regulated procedures were revoked, we made a motion before the favourite judge to help us do a number of things. I applied to share the disclosure materials with the school, school board, Minister of Education, Minister of Community Safety/Corrections and Minister of Children and Youth.
We were seeking a government investigation into a handful of compounding issues and the ability to mediate with the school board to get my son back in class. They denied expelling him and declined to justify his absence. They denied the threats to arrest him if he showed up. But police notes confirmed they revoked my son’s due process and the expulsion was pre-arranged with the OPP. The school board couldn’t deny police evidence and we needed it to prove what they’d done, because they also concealed their actions from the school record so we had no way to appeal within the Education Act.
The Crown Attorney represented their interests. Same with the OPP. The school board hired Miller Thomson and it was Davey against Goliath at the hearing. We had to be self represented because there’s no funding for education disputes and I studied the law until it felt like my eyes bled.
I entered arguments about the lack of warrant and repeated abuse of the school record to implicate my son. The breach of trust (plus Charter infringement) that occurred when they obtained my son’s photo, to suggest his guilt to a troubled teen who had never identified him (sparking this whole nightmare). The professional misconduct that arose from police interrogating kids at school without their parents’ knowledge. I proved the expulsion via police documents. I also had to argue the ODSP Act, because if they forced my son to remain out of school, we would lose our income assistance shortly. Only kids in school receive support for food and shelter. It’s further legislated by the Education Act that he must attend and we were literally under threat of losing our home if we didn’t agree to be blackmailed by the school board into entering a false confession. That’s the only way they’d let him back in class, if he confessed. This was serious stuff and we had no help at all.
Since we were pushed this far, there was no sense ignoring anything. I made the argument that perpetrator DEE was repeatedly returned to class, while my son was kept at home as an alleged accessory. DEE entered multiple guilty pleas for sexual assault against far too many students and they kept putting him back in the same school to commit more. It had become an epidemic. The school board, in writing, refused to acknowledge this danger, let alone the beating threats to victims, witnesses and my son, from the DEE entourage. We felt government ministers should be looking at this and the favourite judge believed me enough to suggest that I involve CAS for immediate intervention (but the kids were 16+ and this service didn’t apply, I tried). You have to imagine, this violence already appears in the court record and the judge was aware of it. He’s the one who processed DEE’s repeated guilty pleas.
Our adversaries tried to oppose the Order for a number of different reasons. They said it would set a precedent if I won access to publish/share police notes from an ongoing investigation. The Crown Attorney argued that anything related to DEE did not affect my son and therefore should be off limits, despite having to share it with us in my son’s disclosure, because everything he faced stemmed from the perpetrator’s actions. Between cases, DEE also submitted a written confession that contradicted the allegations from Girl #1, by admitting he touched her (not my son like the cop insisted). The school refused to believe or accept there was a written confession that vindicated my boy and they wouldn’t entertain the idea unless forced by court order to see it.
Against all odds, we won. The judge ordered each piece of the disclosure package by subject (ex. all witness statements, all synopses, all police notes). He denied the Crown Attorney’s request to vet and withhold any statements they were opposed to sharing. All were meant to be included. It was a monumental day for us and we thought we could finally seek help. All pages were ordered to be redacted, but only to change the children’s names into the form of initials. The court was aware how complicated it would be to describe the situation if names were removed completely. This way the identities were protected, including my son’s, as we approached a very difficult task I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So many kids were getting hurt, not just my own.
In the next month the Crown Attorney provided the documents. But they withheld 118 pages, including the written confession. The redacting was done so poorly that nothing was useable. At least half was skipped and my son’s name was rarely redacted, among the pages they did share. I was given the Crown Attorney’s email address and told to submit arguments for each and every page we still needed. They falsely asserted the right to vet, despite losing that argument in front of the judge. They would only consider obliging if we had good enough reasons and I complained this put us at a disadvantage. If we had to explain the reason each page was needed to defend my son, it equated with telling the Crown prosecutor every detail of our plan for judicial defence as well.
I possess that email and could not have known the address if it wasn’t given to us (later the Crown Attorney will deny this ever happened). I explained the 118 pages against my better judgement, because we needed them faster than yesterday. Our income was in danger, my son lost a semester of school and the school board refused to acknowledge any violence. One of DEE’s sexual assaults happened in Math class and nothing came of it with the school. My son wasn’t accused, but it appeared in our disclosure because DEE was charged for many girls at the same time and we were lumped in his file. He pleaded guilty, but the school board refused to believe this ever happened. Girl #2′s brother pleaded guilty to threatening a girl with death and a knife. Plus there were the victims on the beating list and associates who were helping, sometimes for money. The school board needed to acknowledge this and intervene.
The Crown Attorney responded by refusing to speak with us again. He demanded that although we had to be self represented, he would only communicate with a lawyer and we’d need to get one to dispute this further. If this was a comedy sketch, no one at our house was laughing. I sent a second email with request to place our matter back on the docket, so their objections could be settled by the impartial judge. Unfortunately they refused, every time I asked. (Collingwood is a satellite courthouse that doesn’t have any services. Not even a secretary. I wasn’t sure where to go for help.)
Desperate, we pleaded with the reluctant lawyer to assist us with the Crown Attorney’s demand for counsel to converse. After a few declines he finally came through, when it became apparent we still couldn’t get my son back in school (all this time he was self teaching at home and I would fight to get the study work – documented by a stack of 2-way emails with the school board). The reluctant lawyer eventually reported the Crown Attorney was busy. He was assigned to a headline murder case (mini putt golf club beating) and was too consumed to deal with this order. We couldn’t have known the details of his employment if they weren’t provided to us as an excuse.
No matter what we did, no one would put us back on the court docket though. The reluctant lawyer then advised, the Crown Attorney made an agreement with the school board to pause our mediation or appeal hearings, until they were ready to proceed. We weren’t consulted and didn’t have a say in this arrangement. Nor was the Crown Attorney supposed to be involved in a school hearing. From him we just needed the paperwork.
In the meantime, the school board made a peace offering to get us through the wait. My son was allowed to transfer schools to a safer one and begin class for the next semester (after missing one, unwillingly). When we registered in the new school, we disclosed every last detail in a meeting with the principal. He was a wonderful fellow, truly. The school offered my son a clean slate where he didn’t have to worry. The discipline was over, they would help him catch up work and the charges weren’t part of his school life there. The vice principal was brought up to speed so she could support him through the transition and cramming 2 semesters in at once. She was also great and they shared a fond relationship.
He thrived at the new school and went back to his life of earning awards, as well as student mentoring (music). He was praised for his help and immersing himself in voluntary programs. He built great relationships with teachers and administration, so much that a couple of them became friends beyond the school (related to orchestra). This is knowing about the charges and believing in my son on his own merits. A few teachers said they would never believe he could hurt anyone.
I could do little more without the Crown Attorney providing the missing pages. With the redacting hardly done, I couldn’t contact government ministers either. Nearly a year had gone by when the verdict was delivered. At the same time the amazing principal from the new school retired and a replacement was brought in.
►►In an unexpected twist, the court notified the new school principal immediately about the guilty verdict, for the purpose of punishing my son at school again. It was the second YCJA 125.6 report for the same allegation (police documented), that caused the 97 day illegal expulsion and sent us to court the first time.
All bets were off and my son’s due process was being revoked by the school board again. It was a repeat of what we already endured and they refused to record their actions in the school record so we couldn’t appeal. This time they were brave enough to put that refusal in writing and stated their authority to conceal from the student record, on letterhead. They admitted disciplining my son while revoking the legislated process and said there’s nothing we could do about it, also on letterhead.
The school board wrote that our court order did not apply to them and they would never read our submissions. They would never respond to our (diplomatic) questions and furthermore, they will not give me meetings. If I try to attend the school for information about my son’s education, I and/or he will be excluded (which is worse than expulsion). They refused to speak with their lawyer from Miller Thomson upon our encouragement. They refused to acknowledge my son’s judicial appeal and again on letterhead, they said an appeal can never make my son innocent and they will not respect his legal rights.
The Crown Attorney and school board both reneged on the agreement to postpone my son’s education proceedings and felt the guilty verdict outweighed the court order or the Education Act. The Crown Attorney will not forward the redacted documents as per the court order and the school board will not receive them. A double jeopardy punishment was immediately meted, even though the new principal doesn’t know an allegation to discipline. We’ve asked in writing and she refuses to respond, except to confirm her refusal.
Without a hearing or any mandated procedure, they’ve placed a lifelong Safety Plan on my son. A Safety Plan is only allowed to be temporary and can’t be used as discipline, but they’re doing it anyway and concealing from the school record. The only proof is through the court and the letters couriered to inform us, that brag about this plan to conceal student discipline. (Another one of those see it to believe it things, but we’ve got the original signed in ink.)
If my son wants to graduate he will have to submit to a physical guard that escorts him at all times on school property, for the rest of his student life. Guilty or innocent, appealing or not; no matter what it’s airing a minor’s criminal record to the community on a daily basis. The law doesn’t allow this and neither does the publication ban, but everyone running Hazard County is above the law. Therefore if I go to jail for this letter, I just don’t give a damn anymore. Playing by the rules and jumping through inhumane hoops hasn’t helped my son yet.
In addition to being attended by a guard, my son isn’t allowed to use the student bathrooms. The perpetrator can, but not my boy. My son has to be guarded and humiliated at the principal’s bathroom if he needs to relieve himself. He must also submit to lifelong counselling to help him accept his guilt, via the school board.
At no point will this discipline be reviewed, as adamantly and clearly documented, however illegal. It can never be fulfilled and the punishment will never end. This is how they’re covering up the 97 day illegal expulsion as well. We were forced to share the court ordered psych reports that say my son is healthy as anyone could wish. They forced us to get a court order to share it with the school board, but that didn’t convince them to back down either.
Every which way, my son is being punished for seeking judicial appeal and the Crown Attorney ensured he will not receive his education. I can’t send him to school like this. I’m not staying up every night of my life to make sure he doesn’t succumb to the abuse. Neither one of us could make it through this never-ending oppression and there’s no way to justify sucking it up. My son never had a disciplinary history at school. He was never in trouble at the new school for anything. He had no criminal record and even if you disregard our plight for appeal, it was a first conviction for a summary offense. They’ve gone and made him an unofficial dangerous offender who’s confinement can never be reviewed or end.
►►I told the good judge at the first opportunity. Both the school board and Crown Attorney are in defiant noncompliance with his Order and they refuse to fulfil it under any circumstance. On open court record, the Crown Attorney responded by calling us liars. They denied a deal with the school board to postpone my son’s due process. They denied failing to comply with the order for redacted disclosure. They denied withholding the 118 pages. They denied the email exchange in our effort to clear this up. They denied our written request to get this back on the docket. They denied confirming their actions to the reluctant lawyer. They said we were viciously lying about the Crown and making all of this up. They tried to block us from bringing the matter back to court. They even accused the judge of exhibiting bias, by relaxing the rules for us to submit evidence, as the self represented with a satellite court that offers no services. They were really ticked when we got a new order for amicus. The reluctant lawyer attended court to give oral evidence that refuted the Crown Attorney, but he was blocked from speaking on this basis.
The best judge I’ve ever met had to recuse himself from hearing any more. He wouldn’t back down and let the Crown Attorney quash our motion for noncompliance, but he’s overseeing an impartial replacement that can’t be accused of wrongdoing. Now I must be held to the standard of a lawyer though. No more submitting through the court and we’ll have to travel to file. It’ll have to be done by affidavit, factum and evidence sworn by a commissioner of oath, instead of being sworn by me directly to the court. The cost has already cancelled our Christmas. Hundreds of pages of evidence spanning 2 years must be copied in quadruplicate. We’ll have to pay for some transcripts and I’m not sure how yet. The Crown Attorney tried to use our financial status against us by decrying a sine die adjournment, till I could afford everything and a lawyer to certify the documents. Thankfully the judge gave him a bit of trouble for that. It deserves to be said that the only thing my son will get for Christmas is access to justice and I’m still working tirelessly to pull it off.
As the self represented (for my son), I tried my best to bring a Charter challenge for security of the person (regarding the sum of transgressions by the police and Crown Attorney with the school board). I did the research and submitted a question to the bench, regarding how to proceed with such an endeavour and if it could be heard by the ordering judge’s venue because it stemmed from the noncompliance. But it was the wrong venue and we’d have to travel to reach a court that could hear this.
I was crucified by the Crown Attorney and ordered to explain myself through detailed written submission. I had no choice because we couldn’t get a lawyer and this was part of my questions to Errol Mendes about the Charter. I clearly explained he had no part in advising me and I approached him for general information only. I was being grilled on everything I did, who I’d spoken with and I didn’t think I did anything wrong to hide. It was an honest attempt to protect my son from collusion between the school board and Crown Attorney. I can’t help but wonder if I made Mr. Mendes angry, should he have heard about this without the benefit of context. He hasn’t spoken to me since and my heart aches that he might think I took any liberties with his name. I had to explain JFCY, the Provincial Advocate, the social workers and the lawyers at Legal Aid as well. Because the Crown Attorney is so angry and the judge had to be recused, we lost the only thing going for us (a judge we trusted) and everything related to the noncompliance has become The Inquisition.
Every profession has ethics rules and I’m no lawyer. I can advocate, but I can’t battle a Crown prosecutor, in their arena, single-handed. There’s a reason no one is allowed to operate on their own family, so to speak. A surgeon can’t transplant organs in their child, a lawyer can’t often represent their child, a psychologist can’t counsel their child and a driving examiner can’t licence their own child. There are emotions involved and yet here I am, being told I have to save my son’s future, his right to education, legal rights, human rights, plus public safety. I’m bound to make mistakes along the way but I’m trying from an honest centre and I’m so sorry to any friends I might have frustrated.
It’s gotten to the point where people ask why I don’t just plead him guilty and get it over with. The challenges are too great and if we accept the false/illegal consequences, it would be over faster and at least he could go to school. I can only say that I’m the one who lives with my son and I know him better than anyone. I’ve watched the injustice destroy his spirit, for what will last a lifetime. The only way to fix this is by pursuing impartiality and proving that truth prevails, no matter the struggle to obtain it. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other when times are tough and keep the truth ready in your hands, someone is bound to hear it. Please look at it this way. If someone accused you of sexual assault and this is something you could never do, would you be able to admit false guilt and apologize for a crime you didn’t commit? Would you let this happen if you were falsely paraded around your community on a daily basis to shame? How would you cope with psych counselling to accept your guilt, in direct punishment for trying to prove your innocence? What would you think about Canada if this was your story? And what if it was your child who was being taught these things, as the formative base for all they would believe as an adult?
►►This brings us to sentencing and I imagine I’ve lost all but 1% of those willing to read. When someone’s story is more complicated than a sound byte, I fear it alienates too many. No one had time to read the case in getting this far and I understand how sick its made me to keep up with everything, so how could I expect anyone else to invest this much in another person’s child? With that said, I’m trying anyway because I don’t know what else I can do.
The young lawyer from JFCY represented my son at sentencing. We collected a whole book of reference letters from wonderful people, to illuminate my boy’s character and relationships. This has hurt my son’s girlfriend as well, because she of all people knows his gentle nature. She sticks with him and told the judge about their loving union and the way my son treats women respectfully. The OPP officer from another detachment submitted glowing reference as well (my son’s karate partner). The army captain, school support staff, a teacher, a marginalized peer, a social worker who’s known my son since birth, a church minister, a whole family. Nearly 20 people came forward to support my son and their letters represent a reassuring hug.
The Crown Attorney congratulated the lawyer for working hard to come up with his. He said the letters paint a different picture of my son, but the court knows him to be the opposite of whatever they said. The angry trial judge concurred. He alluded to my son having a split personality and further disagreed with the court ordered psych reports. Even though the judge’s trusted professionals couldn’t confirm his pathological accusations and they found absolutely nothing wrong, he more or less accused my son of outsmarting the doctors by concealing his deviance. The judge maintained that no matter what the medical-legal reports said, my son is pathological and he knows better than anyone. Moreover, the public should be afraid because my son has the evil skills to trick everyone except the judge. He was now an expert psychologist, arguing against his own clinical evidence.
First offence. Summary conviction as an accessory. Being appealed. No disciplinary history even at school. But a talented psychopath that only the judge and Crown Attorney could recognize.
He then threw the book at my son (figurative). The judge threatened he would have leapt at the chance to incarcerate my boy, if he wasn’t restrained by sentence parity. At this point he praised PM Stephen Harper, ironically on the same day my investigate article was published in criticism of the Harper government (published in morning, comments in late afternoon, linked earlier). I’m not sure why the PM belonged in my son’s sentence, but that’s exactly how it went down.
He penalized and berated my son for closing our community farm. He said we had no right to quit the project because of court stresses and he tacked on community service hours to discipline my boy for the thousands he already contributed. This judge managed to hold my son responsible for feeding a third of our town.
He punished my son for not being able to continue in Air Cadets or Karate. My boy had won major awards but with a total of 7 sex related charges, you’re not allowed to lead others or travel in these programs. My son’s recognizances stipulated he couldn’t leave the province for these 2 long years and that put an end to any training that might have been available, if he was still allowed in the programs (but wasn’t). So, the judge berated him and said that was his fault too, for quitting of his own will, because he didn’t believe the charges would affect his ability to participate. He refused to believe you can’t teach kids with sexual assault looming over all you do. He accused my son of quitting on services he owed to the community and refused to believe the Crown banned him from leaving the province, until the court dug up the original papers. When he had to accept that opinion was wrong and we were telling the truth, the judge berated my son for not applying to have the stipulations changed, like he’s a lawyer and should have known better.
Counselling was ordered to come to terms with his guilt, because he’s seeking an appeal. Although the school matters are being litigated (self rep), the judge agreed with the illegal Safety Plan and ordered my son to submit. He knows it meant parading my boy around with a guard every day and not being allowed to use the bathroom. 18 months probation and a DNA order too. My boy can’t apply to college like he planned, nor can he work a McDonald’s cash register. He’ll be too busy on stage Monday to Friday as a menace to society.
In case you thought that was curious, then have a look at this. Despite calling my son pathological and a danger to society that everyone should know about, he specifically ordered my boy should continue operating guns and teaching others how to use them, so long as it’s with the army. How’s that for priorities and consistency. You’re crazy, even though the doctors say different, and you deserve to have your criminal record aired on a daily basis in spite of the law forbidding it. Everyone should be afraid of you… but here’s a gun, kid. Sounds like a Pink Floyd song the band forgot to write.
►►This story is begging to come to an end and I’ll finish the last calamity quick. JFCY is committed to the Ashley Smith inquiry and they don’t have enough resources or expertise to handle the appeal. When they applied for the trial transcripts, the court quoted them double the regulated price (like they were purchasing as a media outlet or something, it was slated to be $1,000). They didn’t send for them because there wasn’t enough funding available and we didn’t know this until the last minute. Tomorrow they’ll be removed from record and they drafted a broad appeal application, but my son had to submit as self represented. We have until December 20 to file the transcripts and they’ve since been purchased. Tomorrow I have to ask Madam Clerk for a Form 2C, a certificate of evidence to prove it’s coming.
If worse comes to worst I can take my son to Superior Court an hour away and we can attempt to argue CCC S. 684 to get appeal counsel court ordered/appointed. Our Legal Aid has ceased because the clinic didn’t need it and the old lawyer said we fired him anyway. They weren’t prepared to let us change counsel, not that any Legal Aid district could find a replacement. I’ll have to start at square one and get a new YCJA 25.4 order for the other trial regarding Girl #1, but under Legal Aid you’re not allowed to have multiple lawyers, so I’m not sure how that will work and we might have another harsh lesson coming to us.
If anyone could see it in their heart to take my son’s case in it’s entirety, I don’t see how each piece can be handled by different people and mucked up by me in the middle, without causing some disadvantage to all involved. I’m giving this my all, you’ve got to believe that. I just need some rest to get better and more time to learn. It’s been a 2 year marathon through the hottest hellfire and we’re melted versions of ourselves anymore. I believe we need to sue the school board and there’s no shortage of evidence. Perhaps you’d consider taking this on a contingency, if you were willing to tackle the educational interference too.
In closing, I am sorry to anyone I might have upset. If I did, it was not intentional. I’ve laid my heart on the line for everyone to see and I hope you won’t judge me for feeling this deeply. This is my son and I love him more than anything in the universe. I’m responsible for the way he’s been hurt and it’s killing me inside. Most of all I’m so sorry to my son. He’s not collateral damage and it really was the perfect storm that caused this calamity. It wasn’t an elaborate plan, but a few people with their own agendas were given the opportunity they needed and it began with the OPP breaking all the rules. Five days after pushing for protection from conservative death threats, they stole my son’s picture and blamed him for sexual assault when no one had implicated him. The girl named DEE and CEE and a stranger who might begin with “K”. It was an officer who personally asserted my son’s guilt, before an official report had even been made. Things snowballed from there and we couldn’t stop the momentum.
If you’re a lawyer who would like to talk, please email us at WasagaCares@hotmail.com or you can find me on social media easy enough. I will provide our phone number after vetting messages to keep my kiddo safe. Please feel free to share this with other like-minded lawyers as well.
To our close friends, please know we’re back in court today (re: noncompliance motion and no counsel). It will take us some time to digest these developments and I’d like a day or two before we try to respond to anyone. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you before, but you’ll have to understand we couldn’t. We still can’t, but, I think I explained that.
PS. If anyone thought of crowd-funding, it’s unfortunately out of the question. I can’t touch the money or the government would take it and we can’t publish widespread about my son’s story. I don’t want anyone else to get in trouble for the publication ban or any children to get hurt.
PPS. Since this has political overtones in my humble opinion, I’d just like to say that even my son feels empathy for Rehtaeh Parsons and DEE’s many victims. But I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t mention the other side of this pendulum. There must be balance. Please remember that. Not all males are bad and these difficult issues can hurt both ways, whenever we leap to assumption or try to ignore. We must protect our children. All of them. There has to be a better way than individual headlines of suffering. MRA voices had better stay away from this too. My son marches alongside the ladies when they need to fight for their rights, no different than his own. This isn’t and can’t be a gender issue. That’s been the most confusing part. It needs to be equality and access to justice for all, full stop.
Yours very truly,
Amy and her Son