Re RCMP absolved of charges of sexual assault (March 19, 2010):
I want to put forth my views and propose a different option that no one has yet presented concerning this situation.
I would suggest:
Â¥ That those at fault were all three people involved
Â¥ That the outcome of the court case demonstrates the limits of our judicial system and
Â¥ That a community conferencing process would be the appropriate venue for repairing the harm done by the behaviour of the three people.
I will admit that I find the information of the case and the judicial process worrisome. Many of those who have spoken out in the media before me have done a good job of reflecting the concerns about whether this woman received justice, as well as questioning if the public interest was served. Those are the two mandates of the courts.
Justice is served in many ways, such as to protect the powerless, to distribute resources fairly and to protect interests of citizens. Since the complaint was lodged by the woman involved, then the question is, did she receive justice?
The resulting judgment was that the men (who are RCMP officers) were not criminal in their activity even though:
1) There is no question that at some point she no longer wanted to participate
2) That she was at a disadvantage with two men against one woman
3) That the officers were not acting in the public interest to get involved with the woman in any personal manner, forcibly or not.
Justice was not served. What I would add to this issue is that there are serious limitations to the justice system. Basically, without strong evidence to the contrary, those charged are innocent until proven guilty of the charge.
Let’s say that the judge was not able to make a declaration of guilt based on the facts he received. Then the judge would be compelled to make the decision handed out.
As for the public, we all know there are numerous social errors in the action of the adults involved. These actions have caused harm to themselves, their family and friends and to the reputations of any group that calls them a member, regardless of gender.
The criminal justice system is not designed to address the complexity of this issue. What is needed is an accountability of the three people to repair harm done. There is a model for this type of social ill and that is a Restorative Justice approach. Restorative Justice is much harder to undertake for those affected by the behaviour than the current judicial process, and yet the results are much more real and longstanding in healing and reparation of harm done.
In this case, a community conferencing process could be used where all those affected by the actions of the people involved, including the three participants, would attend a facilitated meeting where a discussion of how their behaviour has affected everyone would be facilitated.
All those in attendance would design a process of reconciliation.
This process is an internationally used tool. It is proven to hold perpetrators of harm more accountable, enable change and facilitate healing to the larger definition of victims.
Theresa Dunn, mediator/consultant, co-chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative