Publication Bans: Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Cases


On the morning of the preliminary hearing, the Crown Attorney asked the victim in the sexual abuse case if she wanted to have a publication ban placed on the trial. Until that moment, she did not know that it was possible to protect her identity and shield her life from unwanted invasion due to harmful publicity.

She had taken other steps to protect herself. She had moved, changed her phone numbers, cut of communication with friends and family members, and she had even changed her job because she feared the backlash she would face for seeking justice against her offender. The expenses, the personal losses, the stress and anxiety she felt about the case might have been prevented had she known that she could protect her privacy with a simple request to the court.

In sexual abuse and sexual assault cases, the victim(s) has the right to request a publication ban.

According to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, “the media is constitutionally entitled to publish information about court cases, but there are exceptions to this right. The court may (and frequently must) impose publication bans to protect the fairness and integrity of the case, the privacy or safety of a victim or witness, or the identity of a child or youth.” Under the Criminal Code of Canada, two sections apply to victims in sexual abuse and sexual assault cases. These sections prohibit the publishing, broadcasting or transmitting of information:

Section 486.4 provides for orders restricting publication of information that could identify a complainant or witness in a sexual offence

Section 486.5 deals with publication bans on information revealing the names of victims, witnesses and justice system participants, where the order is deemed necessary for the proper administration of justice

When a publication ban is applied, it is noted in the court record. All case documentation is marked with “”PUBLICATION BAN” and the number(s) of the related section(s) of the Criminal Code is also listed. In addition, when members of the public or the media request access to the court record, Ministry staff must inform them that the case is subject to a publication ban.

This makes it possible for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault, adults and children, to protect their identity from harmful publicity. Survivors do not need to incur expenses or take extreme steps because the Criminal Code of Canada clearly states the right and provides the tools to protect their identities.

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Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

Suspected Abuse and the Duty to Report


“Be careful of Clive.”

That was the warning to a young girl from her aunt who suspected that it might be unsafe for her to spend time alone with the man who had already been sexually abusing her for months. Her aunt did not confront the man. She did not discuss her suspicions with other family members. She did not report her concerns to the police or a child protection agency. She told the young girl to be careful, but did nothing more to ensure her safety.

This person did not fulfill her duty – the duty of an adult to protect a child – and that young girl became a survivor.

In Canada, each province and territory has a Child Protection Act* because children cannot protect themselves. According to each Act, if a person has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that a child is in need of protection that person must report the suspicion and all information to the local police or child protection agency. This responsibility extends to all adults. Even if, wrongly, we choose to believe the responsibility falls more heavily on the shoulders of anyone who performs professional or official duties involving children. Even if, in some cases – because of the nature of the job – a child may feel safer disclosing abuse to professionals such as:

  • Health care professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, and family counselors
  • Educational professionals including teachers, school principals, guidance counselors, early childhood educators (ECE), daycare staff, and youth and recreation staff
  • Religious officials including ministers, rabbis, and other members of the clergy
  • Law enforcement professionals including peace and police officers
  • Social workers
  • Lawyers

Every person has the duty to report if he or she suspects the abuse of a child. There are no exceptions.

So, what are some of the things from which a child requires protection?

  • Neglect: the failure to provide adequate care and/or supervision
  • Emotional and Psychological Abuse: revealed in children as anxiety, depression, withdrawal, self-destructive or aggressive behaviour, and/or delayed development
  • Physical Abuse: injury inflicted by a parent/caregiver or another person; or resulting from neglect or lack of supervision
  • Sexual Abuse: when a child is sexually molested, sexually assaulted, or sexually exploited by her or his parent/caregiver or by another person; or the parent/caregiver knows that there is a risk of sexual molestation, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation and fails to protect the child

The Child Protection Act of Ontario states that if you suspect a child requires protection, to fulfill the duty to report you must make the report directly. You cannot rely on another person to report abuse on your behalf. In fact, anyone who fails to make a report is guilty of an offence.

We know that children cannot protect themselves. The key principles of each Child Protection Act – the promotion of the best interests, protection, and well-being of children – are there to remind us of this. Therefore, if you suspect abuse, fulfill your duty: report it. You may protect a child from becoming a survivor.

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* Written with excerpts from the Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11

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Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

Support for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse


The province of Ontario has recognized the need to provide services tailored to male survivors of sexual abuse. The government’s plan includes a 2-year investment of $2.2 million to establish dedicated services for male survivors of sexual abuse.

Starting in early summer 2011, male survivors of sexual abuse will have access to an integrated network of services and support through 45 agencies across the province. The agencies will work together to provide training, public education and other professional development services to ensure male survivors of sexual abuse receive the supports they need.

These agencies will co-ordinate the delivery of specialized services for male victims including:

  • individual and group counselling
  • peer support
  • residential services
  • telephone and e-counselling

You may see the complete list of Service Providers here: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/news/2011/20110413-male-bg.asp

Survivors will also have access to a new 24 hour, toll-free phone number that will provide crisis and referral services.

The government emphasized that this initiative complements a wide range of existing services that male survivors of sexual abuse can access, noting that The Men’s Project in Ottawa will receive funding to continue to work in the area of men’s services to male survivors of sexual abuse in the Cornwall and Ottawa areas.

A provincial advisory committee of experts is in place to ensure services across the province are rolled out smoothly and effectively, and are responsive to the needs of survivors. Members of the provincial advisory committee include:

  • Dr. Fred Mathews, psychologist and research and quality assurance project lead, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
  • Arthur Lockhart, professor of justice studies at Humber College and founder of The Gatehouse
  • Dr. Peter Jaffe, professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario
  • A representative from Findhelp Information Services and a representative from each of the four regional partnerships
  • A member of the Office for Victims of Crime
  • A representative from the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat

If you have questions or concerns about these services for male survivors of sexual abuse, you may contact the office of the Ontario Attorney General

Toll-free: 1-800-518-7901
Toronto: 416-326-2220
Teletypewriter (TTY) toll-free: 1-877-425-0575
Teletypewriter (TTY) Toronto: 416-326-4012
Email: attorneygeneral@ontario.ca
Mail: Ministry of the Attorney General, McMurtry-Scott Building, 720 Bay Street, 11th Floor, Toronto, ON  M7A 2S9

 

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Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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Victim Services Toronto and the Sexual Violence Action Plan


Honourable Laurel Broten,
Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues,
Minister of Children and Youth Services
14th Floor,
56 Wellesley Street West,
Toronto ON M5S 2S3

Dear Minister Broten,

We were pleased with the release of Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan at the beginning of March 2011. The Plan’s expansion of the definition of sexual violence is encouraging for women who have experienced sexual violence but are uncertain about what offences may or may not be prosecutable. The objectives to increase awareness and education for Police and members of the Justice System are timely and we are hopeful will increase the level of comfort women have with regard to reporting incidents of sexual violence.

However, we have learned that Victim Services Toronto is not one of the organizations scheduled to receive funding from the Sexual Violence Action Plan’s four-year $15 million dollar investment. Victim Services Toronto is a vital front-line agency that provides proactive support services to victims of sexual violence 24 hours, seven days a week. This organization has not received a cost of living increase for the last two decades and is in danger of cuts to important services.

In a March 8, 2011 press release, MPP Cheri DiNovo noted, “the funding per victim for the Victim Crisis Response Program has dropped from $286 in 1990 to $31 in 2010. If the government is serious about a Sexual Violence Action Plan, then Victim Services needs to be sustainably funded to ensure that the critical services they provide are available for all victims.” In addition, Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board stated, “Victim Services is a critical component of our response to crime, performing an essential role in terms of supporting the victims”.

As past recipients of support services from Victim Services Toronto, we know that they provide critical services to victims of sexual violence and are in need of funding to sustain the high level of service they currently deliver. We implore you to amend the Sexual Violence Action Plan’s budget to allocate funds to Victim Services Toronto, which is the only agency in Toronto providing immediate front-line assistance, to ensure that this valuable organization continues to support victims of sexual violence every hour of every day.

Sincerely,

Survivors Guide,
Sexual Violence Advocates

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Bob Rae, MP Toronto-Centre
Glen Murray, MPP Toronto Centre
Cheri DiNovo, MPP Parkdale-High Park
Bonnie Levine, Executive Director of Victim Services Toronto

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan


On March 2, 2011, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Laurel Broten, announced Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan as a “commitment to protect women from all forms of sexual violence”.

The plan focuses on three areas:

  • Raising public awareness to prevent sexual violence
  • Expanding and improving services for victims of sexual violence
  • Strengthening the criminal justice response toward sexual violence

You can read more details about the plan on the Ontario Women’s Directorate website:

Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives: Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan (Eng)
Changer les attitudes, changer les vies: Plan D’action De L’ontario Contre La Violence À Caractère Sexuel (Fr)

If you have questions or concerns about the plan, contact the office of Minister Broten:

Phone: 416-212-7432
Email: laurel.broten@ontario.ca
Mail: Hon. Laurel Broten, Minister’s Office – Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, 14th Floor, 56 Wellesley Street West, Toronto ON M5S2S3

 

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

 

The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller


I have read this letter and I understand it in a way that chills me to the marrow of my bones.

Bill Zeller

Bill Zeller’s last wish was to have his final words shared with as many people as possible, and as survivors of sexual abuse, we believe this wish must be fulfilled.

People everywhere need to understand the extent to which sexual abuse harms an individual. They need to understand how the lack of societal recognition about the heinous nature of this crime causes survivors to retreat from society and human contact in a way that makes the victim appear to be the source of dysfunction. They need to understand how the fear of lack of support from family, friends, and trained professionals in the aftermath of disclosure drives survivors away and buries them in inescapable darkness. People need to understand that survivors of sexual abuse live with the effects throughout every minute of every day of their lives and there is no miracle or epiphany that will make what happened instantly “go away”.

Bill Zeller did what survivors of sexual abuse do every day: keep a secret.

We hope that sharing this secret in the wake of his death will create a powerful ripple of awareness in the world about the darkness that can exist for survivors of sexual abuse.

Read the letter: The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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The Canadian Government Needs to Do More about Sexual Offenders


How does a convicted sex offender obtain a pardon and then bail when he faces additional charges for sexual offences?

This is a clear example of why the Canadian government needs to do more about sexual abuse and to protect the victims of sexual offenders.

In an interview with the Toronto Star on December 8, 2010, Theo Fleury, a survivor of sexual abuse who is pursuing charges against his offender Graham James, urged Canadians to contact their local Member of Parliament. He believes “the decision to grant Graham James bail . . . means those who have suffered in silence will not feel confident about stepping up and voicing their concerns”. Fleury further stated, “We absolutely must do something about this for the future of our children. I encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament and complain.”

However, this call to action does not stem solely from previously convicted sex offender Graham James being granted bail in December 2010. The National Parole Board granted James a pardon in January 2007 after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sexually assaulting two young men on 350 separate occasions and serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence. According to CBC News, “a National Parole Board pardon effectively seals a criminal record except under certain, narrow circumstances, such as if a person convicted of a sexual offence applies to work with children”, and in James’ case the pardon allowed him to leave Canada to start a new life first in Spain and then in Mexico.

This raises questions about how effective Canadian laws are at protecting victims of sexual abuse. The only people who can answer these questions are our local Members of Parliament.

If you do not know your elected Member of Parliament this link will provide you with a complete list of the Canadian House of Commons Members: http://bit.ly/1bjGA

You may also contact the government at:

Toll-free (Canada): 1 (866) 599-4999
Telephone: 1 (613) 992-4793
TTY: 1 (613) 995-2266
Email: info@parl.gc.ca
Mail: Information Service, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A9.

 

Let the Canadian government know that they need to do more about sexual offenders.

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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