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There is no denying the fact that sex crimes are horrific. The problem is, however, that many people see little difference in someone being charged with sexual assault and being convicted of sexual assault. Just being associated with some kind of sex crime, even if it is an accusation, is enough for many people to consider a defendant guilty. If that is true, just imagine how difficult it is for individuals to remain unbiased when it comes to someone who has previously admitted to committing sex crimes.
While most people want nothing more than for the courts to lock away individuals who commit sexual assault, the Crown, the police and the courts must treat every defendant as innocent until proven guilty. Section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that not only does someone accused of sexual assault, just like someone accused of committing some kind of minor crime, have the right to be considered innocent, but he or she also has the right to appear before an “independent and impartial tribunal.”
So, when someone with a horrific track record of sexual assaults, someone who had been convicted of and served time for sex crimes as far back as 1969 and who has admitted responsibility to even more cases of sexual abuse, says that he has not committed all of the charges that he is facing, he deserves to be treated as any other defendant. The Crown cannot rely on this man’s history as proof that he has committed the crimes to which he refuses to plead guilty.
Sex crimes are difficult subjects to discuss, not least because of their tragic nature, but the Crown, police and the courts must all set aside their repulsion, fear and other emotions to give anyone charged with sexual assault the fair trial that he or she is guaranteed.
Source: The Toronto Star, “Survivors seek dangerous-offender label for sex-abuse ‘superstar’,” Rosie DiManno, April 23, 2014