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Alberta justice system questioned again as new trial begins
Published Friday, December 9, 2016 7:49AM MST
Last Updated Friday, December 9, 2016 7:55AM MST
A Cochrane man, originally cleared of sexually assaulting his daughter and stepdaughters, will face a new trial after it was determined that the presiding judge erred in his decision.
It’s another case where an Alberta judge has been put under scrutiny for the way a sexual assault trial was handled.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Justice Keith Yamauchi used discredited myths and stereotypes in his acquittal of Dean Griffin and questioned why his alleged victims didn’t report the abuse sooner.
Griffin is accused of sexually abusing three children between the ages of five and 12 over a period of seven years.
Justice Yamauchi is the fourth Alberta judge to be put under review in recent months over how justices handled sexual assault cases.
Last week, a Canadian judicial council committee recommended that Justice Robin Camp be removed from the bench over his mistreatment of a 2011 sexual assault case.
Camp questioned the victim’s morals and wondered why she didn’t do more to protect herself from being assaulted.
A decision by an Edmonton judge over a 15-year-old grabbing a girl in a high school hallway was also overturned by a higher court. In a retrial, the boy was convicted.
Just this past summer, the Court of Queen’s Bench overturned an acquittal in a case of a 16-year-old boy accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 2015.
Jennifer Koshan, a University of Calgary law professor, says that more attention on this issue may appear to be in Alberta, but it is much wider than that.
“It might be that right now, Alberta is under the microscope because of the Robin Camp case and some of the publicity around that but research does show that it is across the country that judges sometimes continue to use rape myths in their decision.”
Koshan says that judges are undergoing more training.
“For all judges, really, they have the responsibility, the ethical duty to ensure that they are familiar with the law.”
In the Griffin case, Lisa Fox, the mother of two of the victims, says it means there is another chance at justice.
“The outcomes of this, if it goes well, and he is convicted and put into jail, the kids can move on.”
Fox says a publication ban in the case has been lifted because the victims want to make sure their story is heard.
“Six years waiting for justice since the disclosure and so many years, 15 years of hell for these girls. We need to put this behind them and move forward.”
The trial is ongoing.
(With files from Ina Sidhu)