Thursday July 9, 1998

Philip Lee-Shanok

p. News 7.

Gardner regrets rape remark

Feels bad about Jane Doe comments

Police services board boss Norm Gardner apologized yesterday for remarks about the Jane Doe case he says were misconstrued.

Gardner was commenting on the stinging criticism Toronto Police received Friday from Justice Jean MacFarland over its investigation of the Balcony Rapist 12 years ago.

The judge sided with the complainant, known by the pseudonym of Jane Doe, who said police failure to alert the public about the rapist contributed to her subsequent sexual assault.

Gardner was quoted as saying there have been situations where people have claimed to have been sexually assaulted, where no sexual assault took place.

"This thing took a wrong turn somewhere. I feel bad it was taken in a negative manner," he said yesterday. "I certainly did not want to imply at all that women were making false accusations."

He said a small percentage of reported rapes may indeed turn out to be false, but all cases deserved to have a proper police investigation.

Anna Willats, of the Toronto Rape Crisis, said Gardner's comments reinforce sexist stereotypes. "Police continue to believe that women lie about their rapes. They believe that if they weren't beaten or scarred it wasn't that bad," she said.

Willats said while there have been cases of false claims of rape, the percentage is lower than other crimes. "Usually cases are called unfounded when a police officer doesn't believe a victim," she said.

"Any insult was certainly not intended by Norm," Chief Boothby said last night at a barbecue for his youth advisory council. He added that the issue of notification remains a difficult one for police.

"It wasn't a year, year-and-a-half ago that I was criticized and sued over alerting the public about people we felt were a danger to the community," Boothby said.

If you want to take it to the ridiculous, I could say every day that there are dangerous people out there."

Councillor Pam McConnell said Gardner's remarks made in defence of the police have upset many women especially those who were victims of assault. "It perpetuates the stereotype that rape victims shouldn't be taken serious," she said.

McConnell said she would be asking for a formal public apology or his resignation. "His comments suggest he supports an appeal of the Jane Doe decision," McConnell said.

"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