Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia hires 2 prosecutors to handle sexual violence cases

Justice Minister Mark Furey says having specialists in the area may help to improve the the province's conviction rate in sexual violence cases.

Constance MacIsaac and Danielle Fostey will deal with prosecutions and provide specialized training

New Crown attorneys Constance MacIsaac, left, and Danielle Fostey will focus on prosecuting sexual violence cases and provide specialized training to other prosecutors. (Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service)

Nova Scotia has hired two new prosecutors to focus specifically on sexual assault cases.

Constance MacIsaac and Danielle Fostey will deal with sexual assault prosecutions and provide specialized training to their colleagues, the province announced Thursday.

Justice Minister Mark Furey said Thursday he expects the new positions will result in an improved conviction rate in sexual violence cases.

"The public prosecution service felt specific expertise in that area could help. We believed that, we supported that," he said.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey hopes providing specialized prosecution of sexual assault cases will improve the province's conviction rate. (CBC)

"There will be a training element with their peers ... to ensure we are providing the right service and informing both public prosecution and law enforcement on some of the challenges that they faced in the past that may have attributed to dismissals and in circumstances going forward, ensure they're addressed so we're seeing a higher conviction rate."

Better communication with victims

MacIsaac graduated from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie in 2010 and has a degree in gender and women's studies. Fostey graduated from the law school at Queen's University in 2013 and has focused on prosecuting matters involving sexual violence and vulnerable victims.

An improved conviction rate may also act as a deterrent, Furey said.

"It's circumstances that, quite frankly, are rampant in our society and we have to demonstrate that this is unacceptable  behaviour."

He said he believes that having experts in the area will also improve victims' experience with the justice system.

"One of the most important elements in preparation for trial is the preparation of the witness, and for the witness to have the confidence of a subject-matter expert who has extensive experience in the courtroom, and academically in gender-based violence, these are important elements," Furey said.

"I believe victims will see a higher level of confidence in the skill sets and abilities of these prosecutors."

With files from Jean Laroche