Hearings resumed at 0930 hours (9:30 am) this morning, Tuesday, 20 January 2009. Shelley Hallett will resume her testimony.
Cosette Chafe (Victim Witness Assistance Program) completed her testimony last evening.
For some reason VWAP seems to have been a bit of a disaster in Cornwall. I haven’t listened too closely, but close enough to get the sense that things didn’t go too well. There was certainly no VWAP for the victims from the time Project Truth set up in 1997 until 2000. And then there were issues about and delays in funding.
David Bennett (Men’s Project) wasn’t in the Weave Shed. Bennett was given limited standing and funding for the inquiry. He is rarely there. Last evening we had witness testimony related to Bennett’s areas of interests …..and no sign of Bennett. No Bennett. No stand in.
Shelley Hallet’s testimony has truly barely begun. She took the stand at 0930 hours yesterday morning. Lead commission counsel Peter Engelmann has been walking her through her involvement with Project Truth since she first stepped into the fray in July 1998. I would say he’s still at the playing in the icing. Examination on the Leduc “trial” debacle is yet to come.
I must say I was surprised to discover my relief when I heard that Hallett has her own lawyers in there. Hopefully that means someone will be looking out for her best interests. I wasn’t comfortable with the thought that she might be left totally in the hands of the AG attorneys. I believe it stands to reason that she will have the OPP and OPPA lawyers after her, and most certainly Michael Neville (Charlie) will be ready to chew her up and spit her out. Danielle Robitalle (Leduc) too will be wanting to take a run at her too, but Robitaille is still young and not quite as adept as Neville at drawing and quartering a witness in defence of a client.
I haven’t seen David Sheriff-Scott in there. Perhaps he will surface in time for cross? If not it will be in the hands of Gisèle Levesque who may be “good” at lynching.
I suppose it depends on how her examination in chief goes, but I believe Hallett is in for a rough ride on cross. She needs someone in there who is more interested in her best interests than those of the office of the AG
In short, I am glad Hallett has a lawyer in there. For her sake I hope and pray he’s a “damn good” lawyer. 🙂
I was also heartened and somewhat relieved to hear Hallett explain the issue of gross indecency and consent. She did it well. I do hope a few legal ears in the Weave Shed and elsewhere were tuned in. For some reason few seem to know that consent is not a defence to gross indecency. Acts of gross indecency were initially legal only between consenting adults age 21 or over, and later and until the charge was removed form the code was age 18. In other words, a sexual predator charged with gross indecency for acts committed in the 60s, 70s and 1981 can NOT mount a defence with the claim that a 15-, 16- or 18-year old, or even 20-year-old consented. From the early 80s to 1988 the age was 18, therefore there is no defence to a charge of gross indecency that a 17-year-old consented.
I have mentioned before that I became so confused during the Project Truth trials about this matter that I later spent months at the National library of Canada poring through books and Hansards. I was certain that consent was not an issue in gross indecency, but I had been listening to lawyers argue as though it were. I decided the only way to sort it out was dig in.
I did that.
Then along comes the inquiry and more of the same. And no expert witness called to properly frame this component of the inquiry!
Frustrating. I am floored that Crowns prosecuting historic cases of sex abuse would not be better acquainted with the law of the land at the time the offences transpired.
I must say that I have often wondered why so many sex abuse allegations seemed to go by the bye in Cornwall because a Crown concluded there was no RP&G because the victim consented when in fact the predator should and could have been charged with gross indecency, or when a charge of gross indecency was laid and a Crown was busily trying to prove the abuse transpired before the victim was age 14.
A few more quick notes:
(1) Murray Segal was involved in the decision to ask Hallett to take on several Project Truth cases in Cornwall. Initially Hallet was tasked with the files of Malcolm MacDonald, Dr. Peachy and Jacques Leduc, all being persons involved in some fashion with the administration of justice (Peachy was a coroner).
Hallett put considerable work into the prosecutions of Peachy and Malcolm. Both died before standing trial.
(2) Hallett was initially told to contact Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald, L’Orignal Crown Robert Pelletier and Project Truth officer Tim Smith
(3) In June 1999 Hallett agreed to take over the prosecution of Father Charles MacDonald. Robert Pelletier was finally stepping aside because of his conflict, namely his close friendship with Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald
(4) Also in June 1999 Hallet was tasked with reviewing and giving an opinion on five Crown briefs for five clergy: Bishop Eugene Larocque and Fathers Bob McDougald, Bernard Cameron, Gary Ostler and Kevin Maloney.
According to Hallett she was not given a time by which to render her decision. She was told that the Project Truth officers felt no charges would be laid. She tooka quick look over the briefs and decided she would need time to review them briefs thoroughly. In all the five briefs totalled about 3,000 pages.
Hallett was told by Project Truth officer Dupuis that it might be a good idea to wait until she received the conspiracy brief to make her decisions because there would be relevant information in that brief.
(5) In addition to the above workload Hallet was asked to review the charges against Brian Dufour and Father Primeau, the former a child care worker and the latter a Viatorian priest at the Cornwall Classical College.
(6) Hallett received the conspiracy brief in January 2000. The brief comprised 5 volumes of material amounting to approximately 7,000 pages.
(7) Hallett recalls the allegations against Viatorian priest Father Primeau well because the victim was being physically abused by another brother at the Classical College. He would go to Primeau who offered sympathy. Primeau would then take the lad to a bedroom and the occasion would present for him to make sexual overtures and molest the boy.
(8) Dr. Peachy was charged with gross indecency. LÓrginal Crown Robert Pelletier felt consent would be mounted as a defence on that charge at trial.
Keep Shelley Hallett in your prayers. I think she may be in for a rough time in there.
Enough for now,