Court finds ex-wife's abuse allegations against Jonathan Denis unfounded
Published Monday, May 4, 2015 11:20AM MDT Last Updated Monday, October 19, 2020 9:45AM MDT
**UPDATE: The headline of this story was updated on Jan. 9, 2020 to reflect a Feb. 2019 Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta ruling by Justice John Rooke that found there was no evidence to suggest that Jonathan Denis had abused his former wife. In the ruling, Justice Rooke stated "Breanna Palmer lied to the Court under oath" and cleared the former justice minister.
Alberta’s former justice minister Jonathan Denis has been fighting it out in court over an emergency protection order his estranged wife, Breanna Palmer, obtained against him on April 24.
Denis was asked to step down from cabinet by Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice the next day. The existence and contents of the order have been under a publication ban until now. Monday, a Queen's Bench judge ended that emergency protection order, saying he did not see sufficient evidence one was required.
Palmer asked for the order after she alleges Denis physically, mentally and emotionally abused her over the course of their approximately two-year relationship. Denis denies all allegations of abuse. He also questions the timing of Palmer's accusations as he continues to seek his PC seat in Calgary-Acadia. Albertans go to the polls May 5.
In a hearing to determine whether the protection order should be extended, a family court judge heard Palmer's account of an incident where she says she attempted to kiss Denis in bed after a fight. She says he put her in a headlock, then kneed her in the face and made her nose bleed.
"I was scared and I didn't know what was happening and I locked myself in the bathroom and I wouldn't come out. He said it was a mistake."
Denis' account is completely different. He says Palmer was "performing an intimate act" and he kneed her inadvertently. He says he apologized profusely.
Palmer laid out multiple accounts of terrifying temper tantrums that Denis denies. She says the former minister takes the drug Lithium for mental health issues. Denis says he was treated for depression in university.
The two began dating in spring 2013. They had conflict throughout their dating life, according to Palmer. They were engaged to be married in June of 2014 and wed October 11 of that year. Palmer says she was surprised when served with a prenuptial agreement two days before.
According to Palmer, the marriage began to break down not long after. Police were called to mediate a dispute between the pair at Denis' home in southwest Calgary on April 12 as Palmer was moving out.
Palmer says she attempted to make a police report about the abuse but police did not see fit to lay charges.
The proceedings have been under a publication ban. Justice Craig Jones lifted the ban today. The purpose of the four-day hearing was basically to determine whether the protection order should carry on or be revoked. The judge revoked the order, saying he is not persuaded Ms. Palmer is in danger.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and Denis has denied any wrongdoing.