An unconscionable disgrace

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I’ve been doing a lot more thinking about this “historical” legal fracas and where it does or doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of things. What I’ve dug up in the process is thoroughly confusing but extremely important.  For that reason I decided to spend a little more time and effort on this blog.

A quick reminder.  The “historical” legal fracas is fallout from the OPP objection to the calling of a female witness (C-12)  who apparently would testify that she was sexually assaulted by two 16 and 17 year-old boys in 1993.   She reported the assault the following day. The OPP protest that C-12’s assault is not “historical” and is therefore beyond the scope of the mandate which specifies “allegations of historical abuse.”

Confusion now abounds amidst the legal throng who don’t seem to have a collective inkling as to what constitutes “historical” abuse.  We are privy to this morsel of truth because, and only because, the OPP objected to the calling of a witness.  Why the objection is another matter perhaps the subject for another day.

But, at the end of the day the bottom line is that confusion abounds, and it finds its source in:  (1) the wording of the mandate, and, as I have now realized, (2) the unconscionable failure to define terms such as “historical” at the onset of the inquiry, and (3) the ever-evolving interpretations and the execution of that mandate by Justice Normand Glaude.

Before I move on there’s a segment of Gina Saccoccio-Brannan’s (OPP) arguments which I failed to include in the posting.  As I pursued the matter further I realize it’s import and will include the following paragraphs:

Each one of the contextual experts talked about historical child abuse or historical abuse as being abuse that occurred when the child — when the person was a child and coming forward later on when they are an adult.

And they talked about abuse, and abuse in the sense of a child being abused by a person in a position of trust. That is not what we have here in respect of the evidence of the next witness. This is a 16-year old woman who’s sexually assaulted by 16 and 17 year-old boys, allegedly, and then reports it the next day. (emphasis added)

Saccoccio-Brannan hones in on the issue of “historical” abuse as child sexual abuse perpetrated by a person in a position of trust. 

In his 06 June 2007 ruling Glaude stated:

The Terms of Reference do not make any reference, however, to allegations of abuse at the hands of persons in authority, nor does it define the age of the victims but refers to “young people”. (emphasis added)

Interesting.  No one had argued that “historical abuse” is sexual abuse perpetrated by persons in positions of authority!  Saccoccio-Brannan, as you see above, argued that her understanding from the “experts” who framed the inquiry for Glaude is that it is abuse perpetrated by persons in positions of trust.
 
However, if we go back sixteen months to Justice Glaude’s 13 February 2006 opening remarks we can see that back then Glaude coupled “authority” with “trust,” i.e. “persons in a position of trust and authority.” Further to that, and on hindsight, we can see why confusion abounds in the Weave Shed. Look at this…

In his opening remarks Justice Glaude says:

– the Inquiry has great potential to help communities, both in Cornwall and beyond, to learn how public institutions can respond quickly and well when faced with allegations about sexual abuse of children by persons in positions of trust or authority. (emphasis added)

Then he moves on to address the mandate saying the first of its two primary tasks is:

–  to find out how public institutions in Cornwall responded in the past to any allegations of child sexual abuse that were brought to their attention. (emphasis added)

Then he elaborates on that first primary task of the mandate:
 

–  The mandate speaks broadly of child sexual abuse allegations. However, based on the events leading up to the Cornwall Public Inquiry, my assumption is that the primary focus will be on allegations against persons in a position of trust and authority as opposed to, for example, abuse alleged to have taken place within a family. (emphasis added)

– If it is not a process to separate valid allegations from those that are false, or to determine who did what to whom, why spend the time and resources? In my view, the question of how public institutions respond to allegations of child sexual abuse by persons in a position of trust or authority is enormously important. (emphasis added)

Can you see the seeds of confusion?  On the one hand Justice Glaude says the first primary task of the mandate is to look at the response to “any” allegations, but on the other he distinctly says that sexual abuse allegations against persons in positions of trust and authority would be the primary focus of the inquiry.  And he also says that – absent any attempt to get to the truth of who did what to whom and which prominent “alleged” paedophiles have eluded justice and/or obstructed justice – the response of institutions “to allegations of child sexual abuse by persons in a position of trust or authority” are so “enormously” important that they effectively become his rationale and justification for pouring money into this inquiry. 

Now fast forward to 06 June 2007 and the present kafuffle over the potential testimony of C-12 .  In his ruling dismissing the OPP request to stay the case to Divisional Court Justice Glaude has this to say:

In reviewing the mandate, it is clear that the main focus of Parliament was to highlight the cases that had been in the spotlight in the community at the time of the decision to convene this Inquiry, hence the reference to allegations of historical abuse.

The Terms of Reference do not make any reference however to allegations of abuse at the hands of persons in authority, nor does it define the age of the victims but refers to “young people”.

First, to my knowledge Parliament had nothing to do with this inquiry!!! It came to us from the Ontario Liberal McGuinty government.

That said, note that Glaude justifies his decision to rule against the OPP by saying the mandate makes no mention of abuse “at the hands of persons in authority”!  This from the same judicial mouth which, as noted earlier, proclaimed that sexual abuse allegations against persons in position of trust or authority are of such enormous importance that they are the primary focus of and rationale for the inquiry?!

Make sense?

There’s more. 

In a valiant attempt to extricate sexual abuse “at the hands of people in authority” from “historical abuse” Glaude prefaced his remarks with a rationale for why the word “historical” was included in the mandate in the first place. Re-read that first paragraph above

it is clear that the main focus of Parliament was to highlight the cases that had been in the spotlight in the community at the time of the decision to convene this Inquiry, hence the reference to allegations of historical abuse.

This demands comment because it is integral to the confusion.

 Justice Glaude speaks of “the cases” which had been “in the spotlight” in Cornwall as the impetus for inclusion of the word “historical” in the mandate.

The cases that had been “in the spotlight in the community…”?

Which cases? Which cases were in the spotlight in the community when the inquiry was convened?

Simple.  The only cases in the spotlight in the community, and incidentally well beyond, were the Project Truth cases.  Those are the cases of the host of “alleged” paedophiles who were connected to the allegations of a paedophile “clan”/ring and cover-up which

 (1) flowed from former Constable Perry Dunlop’s intervention which led to discovery that David Silmser had been paid off and illegally gagged;

(2) were identified by Perry Dunlop and/or Ron Leroux and

(3) were eventually investigated by the OPP probe Project Truth. 

The victims are predominantly male.  The “alleged” abusers are/were predominantly Roman Catholic. 

Those the “cases” which were in the spotlight.  The Project Truth cases.

This of course begs some very basic questions, doesn’t it?  If the object of the inquiry exercise was to highlight the Project Truth cases why not say so?  Why is there not hint nor boo nor whimper of “Project Truth” in the mandate?   And why the judicial tap dancing by Justice Glaude? Why can’t he bring himself to say it?

Tap dancing, tippy-toeing and sidestepping the issue aside the point is that, according to Justice Glaude,  this inquiry was to highlight the Project Truth “cases” which had been “in the spotlight” in Cornwall. And that opens the door to the another round of mass confusion.

According to Glaude he was mandated to focus on Project Truth cases.  Right? 

But, we have been told time and again that this inquiry has nothing to do with Project Truth.  As recently as 06 June 2007 lead commission counsel Peter Engelmann was saying that this inquiry is not Project Truth II.

And Glaude apparently agrees, and says pooh on “historical,” and pooh on abusers in positions of  authority, and pooh on those who think C-12’s testimony lies beyond the scope of his mandate.

And, to cap off this confusing mess, a final rather interesting observation.  .

Whether by accident or design the Cornwall Public Inquiry website is misrepresenting the inquiry’s Terms of Reference.  “Historical” has disappeared.  It’s gone!  Note the following excerpt:

…. The mandate of the Commission is to inquire into and report on the events surrounding allegations of abuse of young people in Cornwall ….

The Commission is in fact mandated to:

inquire into and report on the institutional response of the justice system and other public institutions… in relation to:

(a) allegations of historical abuse of young people in the Cornwall area… (emphasis added)

I noticed the mysterious but perhaps telling omission a few days ago. 

Confusing? 

Indeed it all is.

And, just to put the confusing mess into some context…  It’s been two long years since this inquiry was commissioned.  Millions upon millions of tax payer’s dollars have been poured out to line pockets, feather nests and finance Justice Glaude’s research project.  And here we are, watching in astonished awe as the commission strives to define “historical abuse” and grapples with it’s fundamental Terms of Reference.

This is a disgrace.  An outrageous and unconscionable disgrace.

And that truly is enough for now,

Sylvia

([email protected])

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3 Responses to An unconscionable disgrace

  1. Panther says:

    Persons in authority. Persons in trust. Bottom line imo would also include those who were abused as children not necessarily by a person in authority and/or trust but who relayed the abuse to someone they felt were in authority or trustworthy and that person minimized it or did nothing.

    The bottom line to me is the elephant in the middle of the room not the semantics.

    Also one would hope that ‘historical’ will also include current children who are still being abused at the hands of institutional pedophiles be they probation officers, lawyers, judges or police officers. Unless the offenders, regardless of how socially elite they be, are in long term sexual abuse treatment the ‘historical’ arena will only continue to get larger.

    Panther

  2. prima facie says:

    “DITTO”!!!

  3. Myomy says:

    How can this inquiry make any significant evaluation of the institutional response to allegations of (historical sexual ) abuse if it does not pass judgement on whether this response was correct or not. Was the institution ALWAYS correct in its determination that the allegations were credible or not, true or not. If the present inquiry just rubber stamps the decisions of the institutions of the past has anything been gained? Was the institutional response of the past perfect?? Is this institution capable of reforming itself? That is the quesiton on my mind.

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