A lawyer’s worst nightmare…

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Note:  Hearings resume early this morning – at 9:00 am (Wednesday 20 June 2007).  Gerald Renshaw will return to the stand.  His testimony commenced at around 4 pm yesterday. It will be an interesting, tense, disturbing and no doubt very late day.

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Hobbling right along…..

A lawyer’s nightmare
With the time clock quietly ticking away and Gerald Renshaw waiting on the wings C-14 finished his testimony just before 3 pm.  By then Bill Carroll, the normally cool and collected Ontario Provincial Police Association lawyer, had been visibly reduced to a state of sheer, utter and almost quivering frustration. Try as he might Carroll could not get C-14 to agree with anything he wanted him to agree with.  At the slightest hint that things were being twisted or taken out of context in the slightest C-14 politely interjected to clarify, set the record straight or give further details.  If an unfamiliar document was introduced into evidence C-14 did the unthinkable – he asked for a few moments to read it through.

Carroll alternately drummed his fingers, rolled his eyes or sighed in exasperation as C-14 explained whatever he felt required explanation.  C-14 would not and did not concur that just because something was jotted down in police or CAS notes that that means it’s cast in stone.

Carroll tried to justify the failure of police to lay charges against Arthur Sypes, the 23-year-old-mentally-handicapped-farm-hand and, it seems, foster child at the Barber foster home  C-14 was adamant that there were reasonable and probable grounds.

When Carroll tried to imply police had done all that could be done, C-14 insisted that a thorough investigation would have found adequate proof and corroboration.

When Carroll tried to say there were no grounds to charge the Barbers for the physical abuse C-14 endured, C-14 was adamant that a thorough investigation would have found the necessary grounds to lay charges.

On and on.   C-14 was insistent that a telephone interview conducted by police with Bryan Keough, his former social worker, should have been treated with some scepticism when, despite the fact there were records showing Keough’s long term involvement as his social worker and Keough’s eventual involvement in shutting down the Barber foster home, Keough told investigators that he barley remembered C-14 and had only vague recall that the Barber foster home had been shut down.  And yes, that is indeed the same Bryan Keough we’ve heard about before.

There was a considerable degree of discomfit when C-14 wondered what if any investigation had been conducted by police when Sypes, upon  denying he had abused C-14, told them that he himself had been sexually abused while he was institutionalized in Smith Falls ,Ontario.  And, listen here: Carroll has no idea if the allegations were investigated but he did point out that  the officer’s notes show Sypes was offered counselling and victim assistance!!

The long and short of it all is that the cross-examination turned into a bit of a showdown.  As C-14 told Carroll during one exchange:  “the way that this is being presented is extremely confusing…You’re mixing and matching, and things are being taken out of context.

I’d say C-14 was a lawyer’s worst nightmare – a witness who can’t be intimidated and refuses to succumb to the familiar circle talk and stereotypical assumptions that police notes are the ultimate and only truth.

So, while some cast furtive glances at the clock, and an agitated Bill Carroll drummed his fingers, and a bemused David Sheriff-Scott (the diocese) struggled to contain himself, an almost palpable pressure was mounting to get this witness off the stand and out of the Weave Shed.

By 3 pm C-14’s testimony was finished. I must say that he was an excellent, polite and articulate witness.  His comments regarding the long term devastating impact of the abuse he suffered in foster care were expressed with measured eloquence.  He, like so many sex abuse victims, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and many years ago was put on long term disability.  He is unable to hold a job for any length of time, finds it difficult to trust or form long-term relationships, and has attempted suicide more than once.   So terribly sad.  Such a loss to society.

(I don’t believe I mentioned the fact that C-14 is another victim whose sexual abuse was, as I understand it, noted as a homosexual relationship.  CAS notes make reference to his relationship with his other molester Frank Rolland with the implication apparently being that C-14 was a willing participant.  When C-14 first laid eyes on a paper implying he had initiated a homosexual relationship with the man he was livid. )

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Once C-14 was off the stand the gathered throng launched into the next series of rounds of absolute chaos.

The transcript ruckus:
First, it seems that with Gerry Renshaw about to take the stand a few parties collectively and suddenly decided that they shouldn’t proceed with Gerry until they have his Correctional services discovery transcripts which presumably either no one knew existed or if they did know of their existence had no impetus whatever to track down until now.  With this ruckus came suggestions that Gerry not take the stand until the transcripts which may or may not exist are tracked down, and suggestions he take the stand for his examination in chief and have his cross-examination conducted after the transcripts which may or may not exist are obtained.

It turns out that the transcripts do indeed exist and have in fact been tracked down right in the Weave Shed. They were to be faxed to all parties who will thus have tonight to burn the midnight oil to see how they will be used today.

Peter Engelmann was opposed to disclosure of the transcript and, if I followed this one correctly, now says if transcript is used then all such transcripts which had previously been deemed inadmissible must be brought into play.

Set sights for Perry Dunlop again
Next on the docket was a ruckus about Charles Bourgeois, Perry Dunlop’s former lawyer.  Some of the gathered throng have deduced that Bourgeois and Perry Dunlop were intimidating victims – now they insist that either Bourgeois be subpoenaed or his files be disclosed.  Where or even if lawyer/client privilege fits into this I haven’t the foggiest.

Amidst this Bourgeois ruckus was chatter about Ron Leroux taking the stand next week and suggestions that he may or will testify that he was pressured by Perry Dunlop and/or Charles Bourgeois to say certain things, and chatter about a victim/witness identified by the moniker C-8 who may or may not testify in August and who will also have something negative to say about Perry Dunlop.  Those familiar with the Cornwall saga know that C-8 has already been well used by the courts for such purpose.  That’s another sad story.

Finally Gerry Renshaw took the stand.  What time was that?  It must have been 4 pm or very close to it.  At that a harried looking Peter Engelmann (lead commission counsel) started his examination in chief.

Gerry Renshaw’s testimony is barely started.  A decision has been made to go as long as is required today to finish.

Enough for now,

Sylvia

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