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Criminal

Pub ban should be choice of alleged victims: Gadhia

It should be up to the alleged victims of sexual assault whether they want their names made public at trial, Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia says after some of the 21 women assaulted by anesthesiologist George Doodnaught came forward publicly.

A judge recently granted permission to lift the publication ban on the identity of a number of the Doodnaught’s victims, including Debra Dreise, who says she was never asked about a publication ban nor requested to the courts that one be put in place, the Toronto Star reports.

Experts in violence against women say the ban is usually automatic in sexual assault cases and victims rarely get a choice, the Star reports. Made law in 1985, it is meant to encourage victims to come forward by protecting them from social stigma and safety concerns.

“The fact that there are complainants who have the strength to stand before their abuser and demand to be recognized speaks volumes,” says Gadhia. “For these women, their victimization continues when the Crown unilaterally asks for the publication ban. The choice should be theirs alone.”

Gadhia says many defence lawyers assume that the Crown has confirmed that the complainant in an abuse allegation does not want their name publicized.

“We accept their representations when it’s asked for, because we believe the victim wants it,” says Gadhia. “Too often, Crown lawyers make the decision to speak for the complainant who's never given the option. Not just in this instance, but even when a complainant may prefer the matter be resolved by way of a peace bond.”

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