Thursday, July 3, 2014

France: Update--Canadian Tourist, 34, Gang-Raped by Judicial Cops in Paris, Justice Often Denied

According to Toronto's The Star, a Canadian woman known as Emily, 34, had always wanted to visit France and in April decided she had the time to escape to the French capital for a week.

Within days, the young Canadian, the daughter of a Toronto police officer, found herself consumed in an international scandal that resulted in her being raped by two Parisian police officers at the headquarters building  known as 36 Quai des Orfèvres. 

Emily's coming forward was designed to encourage all victims of rape to report it. 

In April, French prosecutors launched a gang-rape investigation involving two active duty police officers. The investigation is also probing whether the two officers tampered with the crime scene. A third officer is considered a witness who may have participated. 

None of the allegations has been proven in court. 

The alleged gang-rape occurred in the early hours of April 23, after Emily met a group of ten off-duty officers inside the Galway Irish Pub, a bar near both her hotel and police headquarters. Alone at the bar, she began chatting with the officers, and soon two of them offered to show her inside the famed justice building, often featured in books and film. 

A judicial hearing, part of France’s legal process that will determine whether charges will be made against the officers, is not scheduled until later this fall. Emily will have to return to Paris to testify.

COMMENT: After carefully examining the facts occurring before, during and after this gang-rape, my firm belief is that all adults capable of making rationale choices, have the responsibility to "head-off" personal risks that are AVOIDABLE and those that may jeopardize their safety and security, but their future as well.

Let me give you an example: The rape victim in this case was 34-years of woman who was from a Canadian law enforcement family, so one can only hope that she understood police far better than most women.

The next thing that happened is that the victim walked into the Galway Irish Pub where she was surrounded by upwards of ten off-duty Parisian cops, all of whom were drinking. Not a good situation for any young women to be in.

It is unknown as to long the drinking continued, yet at some point the victim had the option of choosing to go with the officers to their headquarters late at night or NOT.

Knowing that she was severely outnumbered by strangers who were heavily intoxicated and already presumably had other thoughts on their mind, the down-side was that as a result of her bad choices, she was placing herself in a very dangerous situation.

I agree fully that every person has a different tolerance for alcohol and one can only hope that the victim knew what hers was so that clearer heads could prevail.

The above being said, "NO" still means "NO," yet the Canadian victim in this case had unfortunately already reached the "point of no return" in placing herself in a situation where she virtually no avenues of escape, which should be ever-present in the minds of all women.

Foreigners rarely get a "fair shake" in foreign courts, particularly when the defendants are cops.

Additionally, the Canadian victim in this case has an enormous burden to prove. Worse, she has an surmountable emotional gauntlet to weather with a seemingly high-risk of not prevailing.

One can only hope that for her the emotional and financial cost is worth it, given the odds being stacked against her.

Emily returned to Canada a few days after the alleged rape, and began seeing a psychologist. Trained as an addictions counselor but now employed in real-estate, she has returned to work part-time.

Emily has retained attorneys in both France and Canada to help her navigate the French legal system. Her Toronto lawyer, Howard Rubel, says anyone familiar with how sexual assault cases are tried in Canada would be shocked by the “tremendous demands” placed on a complainant in France.

Emily has been required to provide personal sexual histories, which will then be forwarded to the court and shared with the accused. The information will then be entered as a court exhibit, making it a public document.

Rubel said Emily had to undergo several psychological assessments and will have to return to France for another extensive mental evaluation.

“Those are things that our system, decades ago, decided were unfair and would have the negative effect of causing valid, legitimate complainants to hesitate about coming forward because of the invasion of privacy,” Rubel said. 

Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law, researches sexual assault and observed a French rape trial in 2011. The professor said the high-profile nature of Emily’s case makes the accuser more vulnerable to “a classic repertoire of smears that are thrown out against women who dare to accuse celebrities, politicians, and I would say, police officers."

A source told THE STAR in April that officers had been buying Emily beer and scotch at the bar, then brought her back to headquarters where they provided her with more alcohol then allegedly raped her in their offices.