Mother of sex assault victim Angela Cardinal faces daughter's attacker in court

Lance Blanchard appeared in an Edmonton courtroom Tuesday as his victim's family faced him for the first time. The now-deceased victim was jailed in June 2015 while testifying at Blanchard's preliminary hearing.

'Looking at him now, I hate him with all my guts. He's an animal,' victim's mother says of daughter's attacker

The mother of Lance Blanchard's sex assault victim said it hurt her to see the man who attacked her now-deceased daughter. The victim's identity is protected by a publication ban. (Sam Martin/CBC News)

The mother of sex assault victim Angela Cardinal found out Lance Blanchard would be in court on Tuesday. So she gathered family members together to attend the hearing.

Cardinal's mother walked shakily into the fourth-floor courtroom, then stopped and stared at the man in the prisoner's box. 

She glared at the 60-year-old dressed in orange prison coveralls.  

Outside court, she told CBC News seeing Blanchard in person for the first time made her daughter's ordeal seem much more real to her.

'They failed her big time'

6 years ago
Duration 0:58
Featured VideoAngela Cardinal's family reacts after her attacker, Lance Blanchard, appeared in court Tuesday.

"Yes, it is now," she said. "On paper it was nothing. But looking at him now, I hate him with all my guts. He's an animal."

Blanchard was convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful confinement after he attacked Angela Cardinal (a pseudonym, as her name is protected by a publication ban) in June 2014.  

Cardinal was incarcerated at the Edmonton Remand Centre a year later when she testified at Blanchard's preliminary hearing.

She died at the end of 2015 in an unrelated shooting. She never told her family about the attack while she was alive.

Her mother said she had questions for Blanchard.

"I wanted to know why he did that to my baby. Why her? Why does it have to be her?"

Lance Blanchard is hoping to have his convictions stayed by the judge who found him guilty, arguing his constitutional rights have been violated while in custody. (Edmonton Police Service )

She sat and cried quietly on the hard wooden bench in the courtroom as she continued to stare down Blanchard.  

Constitutional challenge

Blanchard was convicted last December and the crown wants him to be designated as a dangerous offender. But first the judge must consider a constitutional challenge that's been launched by Blanchard's lawyer.

Tom Engel is fighting to have the convictions stayed, arguing his client's constitutional rights were violated while Blanchard was kept in solitary confinement for the past three years in the Edmonton Remand Centre.

Defence lawyer Tom Engel argued it was "cruel and unusual treatment" to lock Blanchard up for 23 hours a day, "alone in his cell with nothing meaningful to do to occupy his time."  

Cardinal's sister-in-law had no sympathy for Blanchard. She's been shaken by media coverage of Cardinal's ordeal at the hands of her attacker and the justice system.

"I heard that video recording of her 911 call," the sister-in-law said outside court.  "And to hear her voice screaming for help and he's going to sit there and complain about shackles and how his TV's not right.  

Blanchard's victim suffered numerous serious injuries after she was attacked in June, 2014. (Edmonton Police Service )

"I was angered [at] how he's sitting there whining, complaining about how he's being treated. And what did he do to get there? How did he treat her to get there?"

The victim's mother said she hopes Blanchard is never a free man again.

"I don't want him out of jail," she said. "He doesn't deserve to be out here."

Crown prosecutor Patricia Innes is expected to present her closing arguments on the defence application Wednesday.  

Justice Eric Macklin is expected to reserve his decision after hearing more than two months of evidence presented by lawyers for both sides.

The family of Blanchard's victim interviewed by media outside the Edmonton courthouse. Family members cannot be identified. (Sam Martin/CBC News )

Family to ask judge to lift publication ban on victim's name

On Tuesday afternoon, the victim's mother asked to address the judge to ask for the publication ban on her daughter's name to be lifted.  

Macklin said he was willing to listen to her request, but wanted to schedule another time for a hearing in order to give the crown time "to consider her position." A date for that hearing will likely be set on Wednesday.

"Giving her a fake name — that makes her nobody," the victim's sister-in-law said outside court. "The name has to come out so everybody knows that she's just not another missing Aboriginal woman. Not just another woman they can slide under the carpet."

"She was a mother. She was a daughter. And she was loved."


Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston was an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father.