A terrible travesty

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Trying to find a trustworthy lawyer for inquiry/sex abuse/Cornwall-related matters is no easy venture.

Steve Parisien appeared in a Cornwall courtroom for the third time this morning. He is now moving on to his third lawyer!

It’s been a tough road for Steve since Justice Glaude refused to hear his account of a late night phone call with Albert Roy.

A tough road since Glaude decided Albert’s account of the phone call with Steve accorded with the inquiry mandate to inquire into the response of various institutions to allegations of historical abuse and the policies, practices and procedures then in place.

A tough road since Glaude opened the door wide to hear Albert’s version of events before promptly and decisively washing his hands of the mess created in the Weave Shed and throwing Steve, a sexual abuse victim, to the wolves to try to fend for himself.

It’s been a tough road since the day the police cruiser pulled into Steve’s driveway. Steve was frisked and handcuffed in broad daylight before being whisked away in the cruiser. Were any of Cornwall’s “alleged” paedophiles – the ones at the heart of the Cornwall scandal – publicly humiliated in such a fashion? Were they even handcuffed? For that matter, were they even charged?!!

Steve was charged with obstruction of justice. It took Kingston police and Cornwall police all of a month to decide they had sufficient evidence to lay charges. Presumably Lee Burgess, a Brockville, Ontario Crown attorney agreed. It took Cornwall police a full year to finally decide they had sufficient evidence to charge former Crown attorney Malcolm MacDonald with obstruction of justice. Presumably a Crown attorney agreed. (It was Malcolm MacDonald who took the fall for forcing David Silmser to tell Cornwall police he no longer wanted pursue his criminal sexual abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald in order to receive the $32,000 pay-off which was hammered out by Bishop Eugene Larocque, Father MacDonald, Malcolm MacDonald, Jacques Leduc and witnessed by Sean Adams.)

So, this morning Steve was back in court – without a lawyer. Seems he had managed to retain a Toronto lawyer with Cohen Sabsay on March. He was told his legal defence would cost about $30,000. He paid a $2,000 $1,000 retainer pending getting his finances in order.

Steve then sent another cheque for $5,000. As of Thursday his account was paid and up to date with $6,000 $5,000 in trust to spare. Then he was asked to come up with a $30,000 retainer!!!

That’s a pretty heavy hit. That was Thursday. He was scheduled to appear in court this morning (Monday 30 April 2007). Whatever the circumstances were he was going to have to appear on his own again – without a lawyer at his side.

Steve decided that was the end of lawyer #2. He was going to represent himself again until he had opportunity to find what he desperately needs and what Justice Glaude might call a “damn good” lawyer.

Through a strange set of circumstances – and obviously at the 11th hour – Steve has retained a Kingston lawyer who also works out of Cornwall, Bill Wade. Wade was not available to represent Steve this morning. Steve asked for and received a remand until Thursday 24 May 2007. Wade will apparently be available and in court on the 24th to represent him.

To date Steve has paid $2,000 in legal fees and, if my understanding is correct, he still hasn’t entered a plea!

That anyone, let alone a victim of sexual abuse, should be put through this financial legal wringer is an outrage. Laymen are totally at the mercy of lawyers when it comes to legal matters. That’s problem enough. The problems are exacerbated by the necessity of finding a trustworthy competent lawyer willing and able put Steve’s best interests first, and willing and able to mount a defence without fear of stepping on countless legal, judicial and political toes in the process, and willing and able to allow him to pay his legal tab as he walks his way through this humiliating, emotionally draining and costly process.

Let’s hope and pray that this time Steve has happened upon a “damn good” lawyer.

Meanwhile, some thoughts:

(1) Perhaps Jim Brownell could ask his government to ante up a few dollars for the Steve Parisien Legal Defence Fund? He cares about and likes to fight for the “little guy.” What about Steve?

(2) Perhaps the Advisory Panel could pass the hat for Steve at Wednesday’s meeting? They want to create an “an environment of hope for the future”? Let them start by allaying some of the serious damage done to at least one victim at this inquiry. Let them acknowledge the emotional and financial burden Justice Glaude has imposed on a victim of sexul abuse.

(3) Perhaps the Children’s Treatment Centre could spare a few dollars for a sexual abuse victim re-victimized by and at the Cornwall Publci Inquiry?

(4) What about parish councils? You Roman Catholics in Cornwall could ask your parish council to contribute a few dollars to help Steve through these difficult days. He’s a Roman Catholic. Surely a few prayers and a few dollars are in order?

(5) What about the Knights of Columbus? City Council? The Chamber of Commerce? The Lion’s Club? and so on.

This is a tough journey for Steve and his family. He needs support, emotionally, spiritually and financially.

This whole thing is such a terrible travesty of justice. It could and should have been handled in the Weave Shed!
Sylvia
(cornwall@theinquiry.ca)

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