Fathers Torturing Their Sons, Doctors Molesting Women and Karla Homolka’s Freedom; Do You Really Need To Ask Why My Niece Will Grow Up Armed To The Teeth?

I used to joke that on the day my niece was born, I started saving up to buy her a small arsenal of assorted weapons. I’ll be honest, it was mostly because she was a girl (if you don’t know why I’d worry more about her safety-and happiness-because she was a girl, you haven’t been paying attention). And I wasn’t really joking. If anything, last week proved my borderline paranoia valid.

Seriously, have you seen the headlines lately?

I try to approach every topic with a degree of impartial logic, to examine and scrutinize it from every angle but goddamn. This isn’t me climbing on a cynical soapbox, beating my chest and grumbling “well, what do you expect, this is only Canada,” in my best C.O.P voice (Cranky old People), the tired and usual response when confronted with stories about the Great White North’s justice system stumbling. That kind of cynical, reflexive thinking is both lazy and deliberately uninformed. After all, you never hear about the hundreds of times the justice system works on a daily basis.

But after last week, well . . . what the hell Canada?

I have my fair share of thoughts on the Jian Ghomeshi debacle that I’ll share shortly before his next sexual assault trial in June, but what it boils down to is that whole failure sucked for every one involved on every side of the issue except Ghomeshi himself, who should be hit by a car just to be on the safe side.

But let’s start with the former RCMP officer currently on trial for torturing and starving his oldest son. Not even the Devil himself would have anything to with this particular monster. The “father” in question kept his eldest son chained in an unfinished basement where he tortured (which included burning his testicles with a barbecue lighter) and starved him and left him alone with nothing but a sewage bucket for company. All in the name of Jesus, of course, and to punish him for sins like kissing a girl. At one point he had his brother perform an exorcism on the child. To this day the son blames himself, thinking he deserved the horrors visited upon him. He remains sincerely convinced that because his father is in the RCMP, he could never do anything wrong.

But hold on to your fragile faith in humanity. It somehow manages to get worse.

The first time the system failed the son was when it awarded sole custody to the father and stepmother following his biological mother’s death in 2009. The judge in the case even mandated how little contact he could have with his maternal grandparents, denying them visitation rights and giving the father permission to read all correspondence between the two, effectively cutting off any line of communication the son had to the outside world (and any chance he had of calling for help). The judge sealed the son’s fate on the basis of testimony from a psychologist who knew what was about to happen, because in 2010 the psychologist in question told the father that he couldn’t terrorize his son. Let me repeat that, the psychologist knew about the behaviour and warned the father. And the judge was aware of allegations of abuse against the father as well but handed him over just the same.

You should be horrified at how poorly the system failed, but the question you need to ask yourself now is what is the father and stepmother (whose also on trial) up to now? The answer? They’re out on bail and Dad is allowed unsupervised visits with his other two sons. Yes, the man who tortured and starved his oldest son, because he thought the devil was in him, is allowed to see his other sons without supervision during his trial (his defence is built on the premise that he’s the real victim, he suffers from PTSD and therefore isn’t criminally responsible). And as a side question, is the exorcism-performing brother facing any charges too? Y’know, for knowing what his nephew was enduring and not doing anything to stop it?

Then there’s the case of Dr. Javad Peirovy, who was convicted of groping 4 of his female patients. For this obscene abuse of his authority and violation of his patient’s trust he was given a discharge, sentenced to 18 months probation, ordered to take counseling and pay court costs. Oh, and he’ll be allowed to practice again in six months. The disciplinary panel that heard the case chose not to revoke his license but rather to suspend it because they think he’s sorry and he’s learned his lesson (though it should be noted Peirovy doesn’t think he should be suspended at all-which kind of throws cold water on the idea that he has any remorse). And while the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons is aghast and just so put out with the outcome, no one in the government is doing a single thing about it. Instead they’re waiting on the recommendations of a report that’s been 16 months in the making. Seriously, 16 months before you need someone else to tell you that molestaton is wrong and means said doctor should never be allowed to touch a woman’s body ever again? Could you imagine a teacher convicted of fondling students being allowed to return to the classroom after a six-month suspension? Well, Catholic schools, but don’t get me started there.

And all this in the same week that it was revealed that Karla Homolka, who helped her husband kidnap, torture, rape and kill Leslie Mahaffy, Kristen French and her own sister Tammy, and has been free the last decade because of the worst plea bargain in Canadian history, is living in a Montreal suburb.

Remember, there is no doubt in any of these cases. These people have either all been or will be convicted (Peirovy actually plead guilty to some of the charges and videos the aforementioned torture-father kept on his phone were used as evidence against him) and yet they’re all free.

These are the reasons people lose faith in the Justice system, why they become disenfranchised and cynical. And can you blame them? The victims are seemingly ignored, they’re suffering and that of their families dismissed and trivialized. It feeds into the narrative that predators are given free reign to prey on whoever they want as many times as they want, and the government will stand by and do nothing. And even, in some cases, enable the abuse (like handing a vulnerable child over to a father you already suspect is abusing him). One can’t help but feel that the entire system often chooses to deliberately fail.

No if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy my niece a crossbow.

Shayne Kempton



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