'I'm the victim and look at me, I'm in shackles': Alberta sexual assault victim jailed while testifying
Warning: This segment contains disturbing details about sexual assault.
Two years ago today, a 27-year-old woman we're calling Angela Cardinal took the stand in an Edmonton courtroom. A publication ban prohibits CBC from identifying her.
She was there to testify at the preliminary hearing of a man charged with sexually assaulting her.
The CBC's Janice Johnston uncovered the harrowing details of the night Cardinal was attacked and the unnerving chain of events that followed.
A year after her traumatic experience, Cardinal was called to take the stand, but was reluctant to testify because she didn't want to see Blanchard.
"Imagine what it would be like to suddenly have to face the man who had terrorized you," Johnston tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
According to Johnston, Cardinal was mentally and physically unprepared to testify. She had difficulty focusing and kept falling asleep in the courthouse.
Imagine what it would be like to suddenly have to face the man who had terrorized you.- Janice Johnston, CBC News
"Since then I've spoken to the prosecutor and she tells me that in hindsight, she figures Angela was likely sleep deprived and malnourished just from living on the streets. But at the time, she didn't know what the problem was with Angela," she says.
The judge in the case ordered Cardinal to be held in an Edmonton jail for five nights. She hadn't committed any crime.
When Cardinal finally took the stand, she had to testify wearing leg shackles.
"I'm the victim and look at me, I'm wearing shackles … this is a great system," Cardinal can be heard saying in a court tape.
Seven months after Cardinal testified at the preliminary hearing, she was accidentally shot and killed in an unrelated incident. She was never able to see Blanchard brought to justice.
We should have treated her as the victim.- Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley
There has been a lot of discussion about the way sexual assault complainants are treated by the justice system, but Cardinal's story is particularly disturbing — so disturbing that the province's justice minister apologized for what happened to her.
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley called what happened to Cardinal "shocking, appalling and completely unacceptable."
"She should not have been put in there. She was the victim. We should have treated her as the victim," Ganley said to Johnston.
"And I think it definitely speaks to a series of wrong decisions and a series of systemic failures that would have allowed us to do something like this to this young woman."
Listen to this full story at the top of the web post.
This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Josh Bloch.