Near-death beating inspires petition for Clare’s Law in Alberta
A woman who was beaten nearly to death has inspired a petition pressing for a law to allow Albertans access to the criminal records of potentially abusive partners.
Dianne Denovan only found out about her ex-boyfriend's abusive past after she was attacked. The events prompted her friend Krista Boechler to collect signatures to get Clare’s Law enacted in Alberta.
"We should be able to access people’s prior violent history," said Denovan.
"If we can save one person I consider it a win," added Boechler.
The policy, named for murder victim Clare Wood, started in the United Kingdom in 2014. Wood was unaware of her partner’s violent history, including jail time for holding a woman captive at knifepoint.
In 2018, Saskatchewan was the first Canadian province to introduce the legislation that permits people to request information from police about a partner’s criminal record.
Denovan met her former boyfriend online in 2016 and said Michael Richard Cole, who she knew as Rick, was never violent with her until seven months into the relationship. That’s when the couple got into an argument and Cole ambushed Denovan in her home beating her for hours until she escaped.
She was left with broken bones, cuts and a bleed on the brain and she continues to deal with post-traumatic stress.
"I feel like I’ll never be over it, never," said Denovan.
Boechler says pressing for protection for others is helping Denovan. "She’s become so much stronger because now she’s got this fight."
Cole served more than two years in jail for aggravated assault for beating Denovan.
In November 2018, he disappeared from his halfway house and was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant as a high-risk offender. He turned himself in weeks later and returned to jail, but returned to the halfway house in August 2019 as part of his statutory release. Cole then appealed to end this part of his sentence, saying he is in a stable relationship, but he was denied according to Parole Board of Canada documents.
"In the reports it even says they are concerned for her safety because this man obviously has a long history of abuse," said Denovan.
The two women say they have spoken with members of the provincial government about getting the legislation and Clare’s Law was proposed by UCP Leader Jason Kenney prior to being elected premier.
"It’s a campaign promise we made to Albertans and it’s a promise we intend to keep," said Christine Myatt, deputy director of communications for the Premier's Office.
Myatt added that it would not happen this year. "We are not ready to bring Clare’s Law this fall."
In Saskatchewan, the Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act passed in the spring of 2019 but will not take effect until protocols are developed.
To sign the petition to bring the law to Alberta visit Clare's Law Alberta - Help Prevent Domestic Violence