Another legal fracas

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If this inquiry was creating confusion before it ramped it up a few more notches on Wednesday last (06 June 2007).

Believe it or not, no one in the Weave Shed seems to know what the definition of “historical” is as it applies to the inquiry mandate!!! 

Think about it.  Parties applied for and were granted standing without a clear understanding of what “historical” abuse is, the inquiry was “framed” by Justice Normand Glaude with “experts” who knew little to nothing about “historical sexual abuse,” and a host of victims have testified without a soul ever questioning if the witness testimony was relevant to or beyond the scope of the mandate.

Last Wednesday (06 June 2007), moments before the legal throng recessed for another 12 days, Justice Glaude delivered his ruling against Gina Saccoccio-Brannan’s (OPP) submission that the testimony of an unidentified female, C-12, is beyond the scope of his mandate because her sexual assault at age 16 by two boys age 16 and 17 and her subsequent immediate reporting of the assault does not constitute “historical” abuse.

Glaude’s ruling sends the OPP off to Ontario Divisional Court where the court will rule for or against the OPP position.  In rendering a ruling the court will invariably be obliged to define  “historical” as it applies to abuse in general and perhaps even sexual abuse and the mandate in particular.

It’s a little late in the game, but it would be refreshing to have an idea. 

The mandate

It’s no secret that I believe the mandate was flawed from day one.  One of my initial concerns related specifically to the use of the word “historical” – I failed to understand why the sex abuse allegations were categorized as “historical” and feared it’s use would serve to exclude inquiry into Jacques Leduc’s “alleged” sexual abuse of Shaun Pare.  Shaun was 16 and when his “alleged” and very recent abuse at the hands of Leduc came to light.

When I realized that there was no mention anywhere of “sex” or “sexual” abuse my concerns were heightened. The inquiry commissioned in response to a sex abuse scandal and allegations of a paedophile ring/clan comprising prominent and well-placed men in the community and a cover-up orchestrated by those affiliated directly or indirectly with the clan had morphed into an inquiry into the “the institutional response to historical allegations of abuse.”

No mention of the defining features of the Cornwall sex abuse scandal.  Not a word about a paedophile ring or clan or whatever anyone wants to call a pack of paedophiles who hang out together.  Not a boo about a cover-up. Not even a whisper about “sex” or “sexual” abuse – just “abuse” – the “historical abuse” of young people. Not a whimper about the scandal which eventually prompted the commissioning of the OPP probe Project Truth, and not a word about the disastrous Project Truth trials which motivated victims and citizens to demand a public inquiry in the first place.

An inquiry into the “institutional response” dad da da to “allegations of historical abuse of young people in the Cornwall area.”

Abuse.  Not sexual abuse. 

And, away they went, Justice Glaude and Attorney General Michal Bryant flatly refusing to answer questions about the mandate or the red flags fluttering around Glaude.

The inquiry pressed on. 

Definition of terms
I believe it’s reasonable to assume that the legal throng who have periodically occupied the Weave Shed for the past two years would have had a common understanding of the Cornwall Public Inquiry’s terms of reference.  I believe that in this day and age where words and terms are prey to the subjective whim of any given ‘expert’ – real or imagined – and/or the social engineering fancies of social activists it is essential that terms are defined, and all the more so at a “public” inquiry.

But, no.  Now we learn that obviously wasn’t done. No one in that Weave Shed has a clue what constitutes “historical” abuse!!!  They’ve been flying by the seat of their collective legal pants, this one interpreting it this way, that one the other, this one thinking it might be this, and that one that it might be that.

Not one question for clarification.  Not one. 

It’s disturbing.  It helps to make sense out of the ensuing mess, but it’s disturbing. 

What does this say about Justice Glaude’s so-called “framing” of the inquiry?  For all the ‘framing’ neither he nor his commission counsel saw fit to call an “expert” with definitive expertise on “historical” abuse.  Rarely if ever did any of the legal throng insist an “expert” limit testimony to what might constitute “historical” abuse. In short Justice Glaude framed his inquiry with one “expert” after the other who testified about battered women, and transition homes for battered women, and domestic violence, and female victims of sexual abuse, and child witnesses.  

No one objected!  No one asked what battered women and homes for battered women have to do with “historical” sexual abuse. No one questioned the relevance of all the expertise offered on such fine points as providing booster seats for child witnesses at trial.

And despite the known fact that there are an inordinate number of male victims connected to the Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up who were homosexually molested there was an admitted lack of knowledge and/or understanding and/or research about the impact of same-sex sexual abuse on young boys and an admitted and abysmal dearth of services for those men. 

And next to nothing on “historical” abuse.

 Small wonder it has been impossible for an outside observer to grasp what the heck has been going on in the Weave Shed for the past umpteen months.

The legal throng don’t know what they’re about either.  They haven’t a sweet clue. Meanwhile they line their pockets and feather their collective nests – with taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars.

Anyway, thanks to the unfortunate and “alleged” sexual assault of C-12, a 16-year-old girl by two boys aged 16 and 17 in 1993, we are now privy to the fact that the legal throng has not one sweet collective clue what they or this inquiry is or is supposed to be all about.

Through this we learn that Mr. Engelmann believes that any abuse which transpired before the inquiry was commissioned (April 2005) is historical!!  The Victims Group and Citizens for Community Renewal essentially concur!!!

The OPP doesn’t.  It claims the evidence of this witness is beyond the scope of the mandate. I would guess there are other reasons for the OPP to battle the calling of this witness, but, thanks to the lack of definition of terms, it has, I believe, a case.

 

I am of two minds on this particular fracas. On the one hand I am adverse to allowing the OPP or anyone else to conceal what may be the mishandling of a complaint from anyone.  On the other, I am convinced the testimony of this witness will be used to further open the door which has already been thrown ajar to hear testimony or base recommensations on every form of abuse perpetrated upn every soul in Cornwall who was abused in some fashion or other before the inquiry was launched. 

At the end of the day it cleverly muddies the already muddied inquiry waters. What should have been an inquiry into apples (a sex abuse scandal involving predominantly male victims of same-sex childhood abuse and concurrent allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up) morphed into an inquiry into apples and oranges and peaches (the institutional response to allegations of historical abuse, the abuse being physical or sexual, and the victims being male or female, and the perpetrators being men or women with no known connection to a paedophile ring).  To now call a woman who was sexually assaulted in her teens by two teenagers – not men 20, 30 or 40 years her senior – is throwing a pineapple into the mix.  It effectively moves this inquiry further and further away from those sexual abuse victims – predominantly male – who were homosexually abused by men (adults many years their senior) who are at the heart of the persistent allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up which prompted calls for the inquiry.

In other words, I believe that by accident or design the calling of this unfortunate victim/witness will serve to further blur the already blurred lines distinguishing between homosexual sexual abuse and heterosexual abuse.  And I firmly believe that victims are being used to further the predetermined outcome of this inquiry.

The final question:  Does C-12’s sexual assault constitute “historical” abuse?  I haven’t the foggiest. 

And another: What precisely is “historical” abuse? 

Cany you believe it?  Eighteen months in to an inquiry into the institutional respnse to allegations of “historical we await a verdict….

And that’s enough for now,

Sylvia
([email protected])

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