Friday, July 13, 2007

Grotesque Miscarriage of Justice

Laura didn't want me to blog about this because she doesn't want my soul to be tarnished with hatred, but this is just so awful, I have to say something.

There's this person (we'll call him that because equating him with a different species would unfairly slag that species) who has a "problem". Specifically, he has "a problem with voyeurism". He violates women by spying on them while they are in private places doing private things.

He commits this crime.
He gets caught.
He cries, Boo hoo. Please don't be mad at me. I didn't mean to break the law. I have "a problem."
He goes to some therapy sessions to help him with his "problem" and is never convicted of the crime he committed.

Sometime later....

He stops attending therapy.
He finds himself a new victim.
He commits this same crime against her.

While she is a guest in his home, he spies on her while she is bathing.
He does this again. And again. And again.
One time, he even does this with his infant daughter on his shoulders!
Eventually his victim catches him in the act and confronts him about his behaviour.

He confesses that he behaved dispicably.
He tells her he has "a problem". He used to be in therapy for it.
She tells him it must NEVER happen again.
He swears that it will not.

The victim is in shock.
She is reviled and repulsed.
She fears for her safety.
If the criminal broke into her room at night, would she awake in time to save herself?
Could she scream loudly enough to attract help?
Could she extricate herself from beneath his disgusting 300+ lb bulk?
Would sleeping in her jeans provide any protection?
How about piling furniture up against the door?
How long can she go without sleeping at all?

Hideous as this situation is, the victim must find a way to continue to function in the rest of her life. Not an easy task, because the criminal is her colleague and his wife her boss. However, she forges ahead.

She buys herself a house.
She installs good locks on all of the doors.
Now she is safe.

... but she's not safe.

The criminal spies on her in her office too.
Several times she catches him pressed up against the glass of her office window, trying to peer in through the hole in the blinds. She also discovers that he has turned the office security camera 180 degrees around from the position it is supposed to be in (focussed on the office door) so that it is now aimed down through the slats of her window, into her office.

The victim is not the only person to catch this criminal in the act either. On one occassion, another colleague walks into the office and finds the criminal down on his hands and knees before the victim's window, trying to peer up beneath the blinds at her.

The office voyeurism is deeply disturbing and creepy, but the victim doesn't do anything too personal in the office -- it is an office, after all -- besides occasionally getting changed before she leaves at the end of the day (which she soon learns not to do when the criminal is in the office with her or when the security camera is focussed in the wrong direction). What can the victim do but take what precautions she can and try to do her job?

Then the criminal trespasses on her land and spies on her in her own home!

The neighbours see him and call the police.
The police offer to "talk to" the criminal.

"Are you going to arrest him?"
"No. Probably not at this point."
"Well then, what good will your talking to him do?"

The victim is afraid again. Now she's not even safe in her own home!
What if the criminal breaks in? What if --

The locksmith who installed her new locks is a friend of the criminal's!
He wouldn't have given a key to the criminal, would he?
Would he?
Surely not. He is a professional locksmith. He would never violate a client's trust with such an act...

But there was a time when the victim believed that a colleague -- a friend -- someone she had known for nine years would never violate her trust. Yet the criminal did.

Is it safe to trust anyone?

The victim is afraid to involve the police because the criminal has a bad temper and is physically very large. If he became angry... she does not know what would happen.

Once again, the victim needs to find a way to continue to function. Now she really needs her job because she has a mortgage and no one paying her bills but herself -- but the next day she feels sick at the prospect of going into work and facing the criminal. She works in a small office. Sometimes she and the criminal are the only ones there. Alone in an office on a quiet floor of a concrete tower. The victim is unable to force herself to go into work.

The following day, the victim contacts a counsellor at her community's sexual assault crisis centre. The counsellor advises her as to her options - none of which are viable. The harassment in her own home is a matter for the police, not a human rights tribunal and, while she could force a human rights case over the workplace harassment, the case would take years to resolve and she would receive no income support during that time.

Still ill at the thought of returning to work, the victim contacts her employer, the criminal's wife, and tells her what has been going on.

The employer is shocked.
(Who knows what griefs she endures as a result of her husband's behaviour.)
The employer confronts her husband.
He confesses to her that he committed the crimes.
He tells her he has "a problem". He's been in therapy for it before.
She tells him the behaviour must NEVER happen again.
He promises her that it will not.
The employer tells the victim that she has received an assurance from her husband that he will not repeat the criminal behaviour. Furthermore, she ensures the victim that her husband will now work from home and not enter the office during the daytime without the victim's express permission in advance.

The criminal abides by this new restriction for a time, and the victim returns to work. The criminal does not take the restriction seriously, however. The victim several times enters her office to find him there. He always has some excuse as to why he didn't bother to warn her first. Nothing the victim can do except keep trying to do her job. Keep trying to get on with her life.

Then, one night, the victim is alone in her bedroom.
It is a hot night, and she is naked, watching television.
(There is a thick drape covering her bedroom window and foliage in front of the window and around her front porch. A person would need to be on her front porch, face pressed up against the bottom corner of her bedroom window to be able to see in from the outside.)

Bedtime arrives and the victim turns off the television.
Her room now quiet, she hears a noise on her front porch.
She quickly turns out her bedroom light and presses her face up against the glass in time to see the criminal slinking off down her porch steps.

Another sleepless night.
Another 2 a.m. discussion with the police.
This time the police officer is willing to arrest the criminal but confesses that a conviction would likely not result. She suggests, as the officer from the previous visit did, giving the criminal a stern talking to.

The victim is still afraid that police involvement may trigger a worsening of the criminal's behaviour. Plus, the criminal has small children. The victim is afraid that waking in the middle of the night to find a police officer berating their father for his disgusting, hideous, criminal behaviour would traumatise them.

But what other option is there?
She's tried confronting the criminal directly.
She's tried asking his wife to deal with him.
Clearly the criminal has no respect or concern for either of them.
Asking the police to talk to the criminal is a crapshoot, but something has to change and there are no other options.

The victim asks the police officer to talk to the criminal.
The police officer makes note of the criminal's street address and heads off to do so.

Sometime later, the police officer reports back to the victim.
She spoke with the criminal.
She impressed upon him the seriousness of the crimes he had committed.
He told her he had "a problem". He'd been in therapy for it before.
She told him obviously he needed to be in therapy for it now.
She told him the criminal behaviour must NEVER happen again.
He assured her that it would not.

The victim keeps trying to do her job. To pay her mortgage. To function in her life.

The criminal trespasses on her property again.

The victim is alone in her bedroom.
She hears him on her front porch.
She turns out the lights.
She presses her face up against the glass.
This time, the criminal hunkers down, trying to make himself small, trying to hide. (As if he ever could!) Eventually he stands up and slinkers off down the stairs.

The victim calls the police again.
This time the police officers berate her for having greenery in front of her front porch and no porch light on.

"The entire front of your house was in darkness when we arrived."
"It's two o'clock in the morning!"
"We couldn't see your porch at all from the road."
"What difference would it make if you could? Are you going to patrol my street all night long, every night?"
"No. We cannot do that."
"Then how would keeping a bright light on right outside my bedroom window that would keep me awake all night help me?"
"Have you taken out a restraining order against this person?"
"Well, you need to do that. We cannot help you unless you have a restraining order."
"You what?!"
"If he's harassing you, you need to get a restraining order. Otherwise, there's nothing we can do."
"How would a restraining order help me? Would you provide me with a 24 hour police escort?"
"Then how would the restraining order help? He's trespassing on my property! He's peering in through my bedroom window! His behaviour is illegal isn't it?"
"Yes. It is."
"Then you don't need a restraining order to arrest him!"
"We'll have to make a report to our supervisor and see what he says."

The police officers leave.
They take the criminal to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
They report to their supervisor.
The supervisor calls the officer who responded to the previous call.
She tells him that the criminal is majorly creepy and that, if he has offended again, he needs to be arrested.
The police officers return to the victim's home.
They take her full statement.
They return to the criminal's house and haul him off to jail.

By morning he has been released.

This time, however, he finally fears for his own hide.
The grief he was causing his victim -- his colleague and one-time friend was not enough to induce him to change his behaviour.
The grief he was causing his own wife was not enough to induce him to change his behaviour.
But now. Now he finally goes back into therapy because he doesn't want to go to jail.

This time he does stay away from the victim.
But he also stops doing his job.

Now the victim has to deal with complaints every day from her colleague in charge of office reception because the receptionist is paging the criminal with tech support calls every day which the criminal is failing to reply to and the clients are then calling back and venting their frustrations on the receptionist.

The victim brings this matter to her employer's attention.
The volume of calls is not too high to handle, and, if the criminal is busy doing programming work, the company isn't making any money from it because the victim doesn't know about any programming work and she issues all of the company's invoices.
What is the criminal doing all day long that he can no longer do his job?

The employer replies that her husband is "busy".

Later, the victim finds out what the criminal has been "busy" with.
His counsellor has suggested to him that he needs to find a safer outlet for his problematic urges, so he has taken to spending his days in an online virtual world.

The victim begins to receive reports from multiple sources concerning the nature of the criminal's questionable activities within said online virtual world. Meanwhile, the criminal's lawyer asks the crown to drop all charges against his client because his client has found himself a "hobby" now.

The days pass.
The company's clients, still not receiving the technical support that they require, start cancelling their contracts.
The company's revenues drop.
The company can no longer afford to pay the salaries of its full staff complement.

Who do you suppose is laid off at this point in the story?
(I'll give you a hint. It's not the man who is sleeping with the boss.)

You got it!
The victim -- who is a good person. The victim -- who has given eight years of her life to this company. The victim -- who has worked hard, who has worked long hours, who has worked for very little pay. The victim -- who has suffered the criminal's hideous behaviour for three and a half years and still kept on trying to do her job, trying to pay her mortgage, trying to make the company work. The victim loses her job.

She searches for a new job, of course, but this isn't an easy task.
She's spent most of her working life servicing the needs of her now previous employer -- developing the skills which that company needed and trying to clean up the messes caused by the criminal and not having much in the way of opportunity to acquire the certifications or work with the programs which would position her in a good place to move on from that company into a new position within a highly competitive and quickly evolving job market. A job market in which employers don't have time to train new employees or even to examine every potential hire thoroughly enough to learn of her skills and experience which would prove valuable to their company so instead resort to weeding initial applicant pools by requiring that candidates possess certificate X (which denotes mastery of a fraction of the skills which the victim possesses) or have experience with software program Y (which the victim could learn how to use in a day).

The victim's job hunt continues.
Her savings melt away.
No longer able to pay her mortgage, the victim is forced to sell her house.

Now five years have passed since the criminal began his harassment and violation of the victim. The life which she had worked hard to build for herself has been torn to shreds by his behaviour. And she receives a letter from the Assistant Crown Attorney, informing her that the Crown has withdrawn all charges against the criminal.

The criminal harrassed this victim repeatedly over a period of three and a half years.
And he is a repeat offender. (He has victimized at least one other woman that we know of.)
And he has confessed to his crimes.
He confessed to the victim.
He confessed to his wife.
He confessed to the police.
He confessed to the Crown.
The fact that he committed the crimes with which he was charged -- the crimes which ruined his victim's life -- is not in dispute.
So why has the Crown withdrawn all charges?

Because the criminal asked it to.
Because the criminal, when his own hide was finally on the line, finally went for therapy for his "problem".
Because the criminal told the Crown that he is all better now and solemnly promised that he would not repeat the criminal behaviour again.

Where have we heard that line before?

The criminal promised the victim he would not re-offend.
The criminal lied.
The criminal promised his wife he would not re-offend.
The criminal lied.
The criminal promised a police officer that he would not re-offend.
The criminal lied.
Now the criminal has promised the Crown Attorney that he will not re-offend and the Crown somehow believes that his promise will be worth something this time?

Well, remember that the criminal has done some therapy sessions now.
(Oh. Right. Been there. Done that before. Re-offended.)
And he says that he has gained an understanding of how his actions negatively impacted upon the victim.
(If this were true -- if he understood even a fraction of how much damage he has caused to the victim -- how could any individual fit to remain a part of human society who possessed that knowledge have the gall to ask the courts not to prosecute him for crimes which he KNOWS he committed?)

But the Assistant Crown Attorney says "it is not in the public interest to pursue this matter any further."

The Assistant Crown Attorney then proceeds to rub salt into the wound by suggesting that, since the criminal's counselling sessions were not covered by medical insurance, he has had to bear the financial burden of these sessions himself, therefore, "there has already been a direct impact or consequence to him as a result of his actions"!

Sanctity of home destroyed. Job lost. Home lost. Life in ruins.


Out of pocket a few coins for some therapy sessions.


I'm not a hateful dog. I'm shy, and people scare me sometimes, but I try to be brave and find the good in people.

But there's nothing good in this story. This story is so very, very wrong.

My heart aches.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A terrible, terrible which is retold over and over again in different ways. Crimes against property recieve swifter and more sure justice than crimes against women and children... Sometimes, in order to survive, one must create their own justice... If charges were pressed, then this is a matter open to public perusal. Publish the public documentation...Print his name... send it far and wide... If nothing else, other victims can be forewarned...
xox Kim