The case made the news for the craziest of reasons, that there was an old photo of one of the accused men with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. An editor googled his name, and there it was. Suddenly, it was interesting.
The accusation was rape and sodomy, that two men had drugged a 32-year-old woman and then passed her between them. The name of the woman is unknown, because she was the victim, but her accusations were no secret:
The marketing graduate testified in a Toronto courtroom that she and her friend were invited back to the condo by the two co-accused after meeting them at the London Tap House.
After sipping on a glass of wine and taking a shot of vodka, she headed to the living room “and that’s the last thing that I remember,” she said.
Waking up in her underwear at home, she remembered nothing until the flashbacks hit her, court heard.
They are the two hardest-to-earn words in criminal justice — not guilty — and Patrick Sikorski and Daniel Griffiths at last got to hear them Friday.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Ian Nordheimer acquitted the two, respectively 27 and 30, of three ruinous charges each, gang sexual assault, sexual assault and administering a stupefying substance for the purpose of sexual assault.
“At what price liberty?” Mr. Griffiths’ father, close to tears, wondered afterwards.
There was the cost of defending themselves, hardly insignificant after four years leading up to the acquittal, but also the cost of having their names, their reputations, smeared.
Indeed, once an allegation of sexual assault is made, it’s as though the word “alleged” disappears from the vocabulary of the justice bureaucracy: The woman is now a “victim,” entitled to the support of “victims’ services” and a friendly escort to the accused’s every court appearance.
“When the train leaves the station in charge of sexual assaults, it only reaches the destination at the end of trial,” Mr. Greenspan said.
Virtually until the moment the complainant encounters defence counsel for the first time, either at the preliminary hearing or at trial, her account, as all over the map as it may be, is often good enough.
No one, other than those horrible criminal defense lawyers, questions a rape victim. Her words are sacred, and to challenge them is not merely politically incorrect, but an outrage.
[I]t was a pooch of a case, and throughout, the alleged victim’s name remained confidential, protected by a publication ban, while as Mr. Humphrey said, “the names of the presumed-to-be innocent” weren’t, with the only onus to correct the public record lying with the press.
But allegations of rape and sodomy are filled with titillation, the stuff that interests the media and causes readers to drool with delight and horror. How awful the story is. How awful these men are. How awful.
Except when they didn’t do it.
But there is nothing exciting about an acquittal.
A TV colleague, whose station had not covered the case so had no explaining to do, as it were, nonetheless wandered by the court, found the case compelling and phoned to ask the bosses about it.
They weren’t interested, not in the story of an acquittal.
There is no mechanism to unring the bell of nasty accusations or return a reputation to an innocent person. Those who are inclined to believe the woman who cries rape no matter what, or who don’t really care if it happened because men deserve to be convicted regardless, won’t feel any sympathy. Who cares if a few innocent men have to pay with their reputations? There are so many women who suffer sexually at the hands of men (spit out the word as if it disgusts you) that no tears will be spilled for the one who got away.
And besides, did you read the allegations? Sodomy. Sodomy! And even if it wasn’t, these miscreants had no respect for women, and deserved what they got regardless. There is no reasoning with anyone inclined to never let facts get in the way of their gender politics.
But there is reason to question how the courts, the legislatures and the media treat the accused. Not only can’t they give the innocent back their reputations, but they don’t have the slightest interest in trying. They don’t care. Case closed, move along.
In the beginning, the 32-year-old woman in the burgundy bra was the victim of two men. Today, the two men are the victims of the woman. The big difference is we have no idea who that woman is, and she will be able to walk away from this case without her future being forever tied to it. The same can’t be said for Patrick Sikorski and Daniel Griffiths.
And like it or not, love their gender or blame their gender for whatever perceived evils exist in the battle of the sexes, they are innocent. And there will never be a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime about their travails.
You can read all about how the new victims suffered on the front page of the newspapers. Oh wait. No, you can’t.
H/T Ed, formerly of Blawg Review, now of sandy beaches everywhere