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Crown refuses to file charges (in 30-year old sexual assault at Native residential school).

It's been almost 30 years, but Violet Quinney is just now able to talk about the sexual assault she suffered when she was a student at an Indian residential school in Saskatchewan. The alleged perpetrator was a teacher at the school, who would be convicted later of similar offences in British Columbia.

Even though the man has now completed his sentence, Quinney wants him brought to justice for the assaults she, and probably other students, suffered in the late sixties and early seventies. But that's not going to happen.

The Crown prosecutors in Saskatchewan refuse to prosecute the pedophile for two reasons: it would be difficult to convict him; and, even if he was convicted, he probably wouldn't serve any more time in prison.

"In Saskatchewan, we have two criteria before we lay any criminal charges: one, whether there's a likelihood of success and whether there's a public interest in laying charges," said Daryl Rayner, a Crown prosecutor who reviewed the case. "We looked at this case in light of those two criteria."

The perpetrator had already been charged, convicted and sentenced to similar charges in British Columbia and prosecuting him again would probably not lead to more jail time. Rayner referred to this in an earlier interview with the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix as the "totality principle."

"I want to challenge the totality principle," said Quinney.

She felt that if she committed a crime, like murder, and had served her time, the Crown wouldn't let her go if they discovered she had committed an earlier murder that she wasn't prosecuted for.

But Rayner wanted it to be clear that the Saskatchewan Crown prosecutors don't ignore historical abuse cases.

The perpetrator "was convicted of the [sexual assault charges] in British Columbia in 1985. At that point in time he received treatment while incarcerated. From all reports we received, he successfully completed his treatment. . . and [it was decided] that he wasn't a risk for re-offending," said Rayner.

In Gimli, Man., however, there is another case involving a convicted sexual abuser where the RCMP are trying to contact his victims so they can lay more charges. Despite the fact that these charges might not mean more jail time, the investigating officer, Const. Tom Boyle, said the province was proceeding with prosecution.

"We make the decision to lay or not to lay charges in this province," he said. "Totality should mean squat. I would see going for [prosecution] whether it was totality or not."

Quinney also felt that she hadn't received fair treatment from the RCMP detachment at Onion Lake who were handling the case. She filed a complaint with the RCMP Public Complaints Commission alleging that one of the officers, Sgt. Wally Bednar, had stated to her that she would get better service if she paid taxes.

Bednar, however, said that the tax comment was just a misunderstanding and that he never said it the way she's reported it. It stemmed from Quinney's complaint about the length of the investigation. Bednar responded that the resources of the RCMP detachment and North Battleford Crown prosecutors were stretched to the limit.

"I think I said something like `the only way for the government to get more resources is to collect more taxes,' " he said.

The comment was not directed toward her personally as a treaty Indian, he added.

But far from being upset about the allegation of unfair treatment, Bednar sympathizes with Quinney because he was not able to file charges against the man who abused her.

"It all went to the attorney general's office and they said `no.' I explained to her that we'd have trouble with it because he had served time," said Bednar. "The end result is that it's not our decision."

But Quinney isn't satisfied with the decision and is trying other avenues to get this case reopened because she feels this is necessary for her to get some sort of closure for herself.

"I wanted this pedophile to apologize to me," she said. "It's taken a lot of therapy. It's taken me so long to deal with it. It's still affecting me today."

The real insult is the government's failure to prosecute, so the abuser feels like he got away with it, she added.

"I do forgive the guy, but it's taken quite a few years to forgive him," she said. "All I wanted was an apology. I wanted to face him myself [and] I was never given that chance."

"We are always concerned about the victim's desires. It's always a major emphasis in our decision-making process," said Rayner. But "what do we hope to attain by a prosecution? At the end of the day, we did not see that there would be much for us to gain by this prosecution even if it was successful.

"From my perspective, the case is closed. We've made the decision that we're not going to prosecute this case," he added.

"It's unfortunate that the attorney general's office hadn't proceeded," said Bednar. "I appreciate her concerns... We sort of didn't meet her needs on the end results."
COPYRIGHT 1997 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Williams, Kenneth
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Aug 1, 1997
Words:842
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