This photograph shows injuries Angela Cardinal suffered when she was attacked by Lance Blanchard. (Edmonton Police Service) An independent investigator calls the jailing of sex assault victim Angela Cardinal "a complete breakdown of legal protections" in a case that "should be seen as a call to action, to get back to the fundamentals of criminal law."
Cardinal was taken into custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre for five nights in June, 2015 while she testified at her attacker’s preliminary hearing.
She was forced to testify in shackles and was transported in the same prisoner van with Lance Blanchard, the man who was ultimately convicted of sexually assaulting her.
The identity of the 28-year old homeless Indigenous woman is protected by a publication ban.
CBC News gave her the pseudonym Angela Cardinal.
The same name is used by Winnipeg criminal defence lawyer Roberta Campbell in her comprehensive and blunt 32-page report on the case, to be released Friday.
After CBC revealed Cardinal’s story last year, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley asked Campbell to investigate and "make recommendations to ensure that no victim of crime is treated in a similar fashion." 18 recommendations
Campbell makes 18 recommendations for change or review, including a complete overhaul of the current victim services system in Alberta.
"It is difficult to summarize all that went wrong in a case such as this," Campbell writes in the report.
She calls on everyone in the criminal justice system "to learn from the mistakes that led to Ms. Cardinal’s incarceration, and to address the systemic problems that it has revealed."
Campbell describes Cardinal as a "vulnerable witness" who was let down by the system at almost every turn.
She is harshly critical that there was little or no contact with Cardinal between the time she was sexually assaulted and when she had to testify nearly a year later at Blanchard’s preliminary hearing. Convicted sexual predator Lance Blanchard hours after he attacked Angela Cardinal in June, 2014. (Edmonton Police Service) "Serious consideration should have been given to her vulnerabilities, and someone should have canvassed what supports were available to ameliorate her situation," Campbell wrote. "Instead, Ms. Cardinal was incarcerated." Victims need better protection, Ganley says
In a statement provided to CBC News, Ganley said the case illustrates that the justice system needs to offer better protection for all victims of crime. Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the system needs to offer better protection for crime victims. (Trevor Wilson/CBC) "Angela’s story is a crucial reminder that we must do better, not only in her memory, but for all victims who come into contact with the justice system," Ganley said.
"When victims come forward to tell their story, we need to ensure they are not only heard, but that they are treated with courtesy, compassion and respect throughout every step towards justice." Wrong to detain witness
In her report, Campbell says Crown prosecutor Patricia Innes "should not have sought an order to incarcerate Ms. Cardinal, as such an order was not available under the Criminal Code of Canada." Innes has since announced her retirement.
Campbell says incarceration of a witness should be treated as a last resort, "not the default option of a Crown prosecutor when faced with a difficult or absent witness."Many of the mistakes that were made could have been avoided if the Crown had followed existing policy, she writes.Campbell did not comment on the decision ultimately made by provincial court Judge Ray Bodnarek to take Cardinal into custody for five nights. Overhaul victim services, Campbell says The current victim services unit in Edmonton, part of the Edmonton Police Service, is made up of 10 staff members and 112 volunteer […]
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