Sunday November 09, 2014

Fixing a broken system: Sexual assault and the law

Actress Lucy DeCoutere met with police on Nov. 6, 2014, to report allegations of violence at the hands of former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi. Mr. Ghomeshi denies all allegations against him.

Actress Lucy DeCoutere met with police on Nov. 6, 2014, to report allegations of violence at the hands of former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi. Mr. Ghomeshi denies all allegations against him.

Listen 51:53

(This segment originally aired on November 9, 2014)

If one thing has been made abundantly clear over the course of the past two weeks, it is this: the system we have for reporting and prosecuting allegations of sexual assault is badly in need of repair.What is less clear, is how to go about fixing it. Can we re-imagine a world where women who have been assaulted feel comfortable coming forward to report what happened to them, and where they are believed and treated with respect?   

If we were to create a system where sexual assault complainants saw justice being served more often, what would that look like? And in making changes, how do we continue to protect the rights of the accused?
To explore these many questions we brought together a panel of legal experts:
Nancy Bateman recently retired after 20 years as a judge in Nova Scotia. She served as a trial judge, and then on the Court of Appeal.  
Lee Lakeman has been an activist and advocate in the field of male violence against women since 1973. She successfully lobbied for Canada's rape shield law and is a lifetime member of Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter. 
David Butt is  a former crown prosecutor, and is now a lawyer whose practice includes representing victims of sexual assault. 
Sue Chapman is also a former crown attorney, and is now a criminal lawyer and partner at the firm Ursel Phillips Hopkinson.