Nfld. & Labrador

'He got away with everything': Woman says court cared more about abuser's future than her safety

Aden Savoie has lost all faith in the N.L. justice system after her ex-boyfriend was given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to assault.

Aden Savoie can't believe her ex-boyfriend wasn't punished, after admitting he assaulted her

Aden Savoie says she expected her ex-boyfriend to be given probation, and was frustrated when he was given an absolute discharge. (Submitted)

Being assaulted was bad enough, but what happened in the courtroom has caused one St. John's woman to lose all faith in the justice system.

On Dec. 1, 2017, Aden Savoie arrived at provincial court in St. John's prepared to testify against her ex-boyfriend. 

The 20-year-old man had pleaded not guilty to assault after an incident at their home in April.

"My boyfriend at the time was abusing prescription drugs," she said.

"I called him upstairs to just hang out with me. He was in a really bad mood 'cause he was agitated from taking the Percocets, so he just started going off about how I never leave him alone."

Savoie didn't detail exactly what happened next, but said she was left with bruises all over her back, her leg, and some slight bruising to her face. She went to the police, and her boyfriend was charged with assault.

Judge Lori Marshall presided over Savoie's domestic assault case. (CBC)

On the day the trial was set to begin, Savoie was informed she no longer had to testify because her ex had agreed to change his plea.

The deal was that if he pleaded guilty to assaulting her, a separate charge of breaching an order not to contact her would be withdrawn. The Crown would request a suspended sentence and probation.

"We left [court] that day thinking that he got probation, and we kinda felt like that was the best we were going to get," she said.

"That's when later that day I got that email saying that he got away with everything."

University plans a factor in sentencing

Savoie was told the defence lawyer requested that her ex-boyfriend be granted an absolute discharge, and the judge presiding over the case, Lori Marshall, agreed.

It means that while the man was found guilty, there is no conviction. He is not subject to any conditions, and the charge won't result in a criminal record.

'I don't understand why my future wasn't the priority in the situation. I'm still living with this every day.- Aden Savoie

A request to Marshall for comment on the case went unanswered, but in her decision she noted one of the factors she considered was that a criminal record could hamper the man's plan to go to university and move on with his life.  

"I don't understand why my future wasn't the priority in the situation. I'm still living with this every day," Savoie said.

"He shouldn't be able to just go off and go get a career … when what he did was wrong. He should be getting punished."

Now, Savoie is left feeling vulnerable, afraid and completely let down by the court system.

"He can just message me or say whatever he wants … walk past my house if he wanted to. He can pretty much do anything."

Savoie is considering applying for a peace bond against her ex, but said the thought of going through that process only frustrates her further.

"I still can't believe this is how our justice system works or how this even happened. It's 2017 this shouldn't still be happening," she wrote in a Facebook post.


Janelle Kelly is a journalist with CBC in St. John's.