Friday, October 23, 1998

Jennifer Quinn and Cal Millar

p. B3.

Legal system hurts rape victims: Doe

Warning issued by woman who sued police

The legal system is not a safe place for a woman who has been raped, Jane Doe says. And women who chose to enter the system should know what tremendous pain they will be forced to endure, she said last night.

"I do not believe the legal system is a safe or dignified or just place for a woman to be," Doe said. "I do not believe that any changes have been made to improve it."

Earlier this year, Doe won a 12-year legal battle against Toronto police that ended with a judge declaring the force was "utterly negligent" in its handling of her case.

The judge lambasted the service for using women as bait to catch the so-called Balcony Rapist, who operated in the Church and Wellesley Sts. area in the mid-1980s.

Doe, now in her early 40s, was raped in 1986 by Paul Douglas Callow. He pleaded guilty to a series of rapes and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

She said women who report their rapes lose control as police and lawyers take over the case, and she was humiliated when her personal medical history was detailed in court during her lawsuit.

Doe said her experience of the legal system -- including the procedures used by police to collect evidence -- is like a second attack.

Doe was speaking to a group of about 50 people who gathered at the Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre in Parkdale last night to hear her speak as part of the YWCA's Week Without Violence.

Toronto police Detective Wendy Leaver of the sexual assault squad said she was shocked and hurt by Doe's comments. Leaver said she's concerned some victims of sexual assault will follow the advise without knowing what assistance and support they can receive from police.

Leaver said the Toronto Police Service recognizes the extreme trauma caused by this type of offence to victims. "We also recognize the trauma caused by the judicial and the investigative process that follows," she said.

But Doe insisted women should be aware of the tremendous pain they are exposing themselves to so they can make an informed choice about whether to enter the legal system. "Otherwise, don't go there," she said.

Women who have been raped need their own legal representation because "the only woman the crown attorney is representing is the Queen of England," Doe said.

Crisis Centre

And because nine out of 10 women who have been raped don't report the attack, women have long pursued other ways to heal -- like reporting the crime to a rape crisis centre, Doe said.

But Toronto police's Leaver said she wanted to send out a strong message urging victims of sexual assault and the various support agencies to work with Toronto police. "The one person we are working for is the victim," she said.

And Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman agrees incidents should be reported to police. "How do you catch somebody if you don't know they've been raped?"

"Balcony Rapist" case... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: February 15, 1999
Last modified: February 15, 1999

J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710