Baillie outraged by judge’s comments in sexual assault case

March 02, 2017 at 7:35 pm

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PC leader renews call for tougher sexual assault laws

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says comments by a provincial court judge in the case where a taxi driver was acquitted of sexual assault are disturbing and unacceptable.

Yesterday, Judge Gregory Lenehan ruled that Bassam Al-Rawi was not guilty of sexual assault after an incident in his taxi cab in 2015. The complainant was found by police in Al-Rawi’s cab around 1:20 a.m., unconscious after a night out and wearing only a shirt.

The judge said, “clearly a drunk can consent.”

“As a dad and a lawmaker in Nova Scotia, I am deeply disturbed by the judge’s comments in relation to this case,” said Baillie. “I am offended by the decision and these dismissive comments are an insult to the thousands of people who have been sexually assaulted.”

Baillie says this highlights the need for training for judges and he is once again calling on Premier McNeil to work with the federal government to strengthen sexual assault laws.

“Sexual assaults are serious crimes that have a devastating effect on survivors,” says Baillie. “When someone is brave enough to come forward and report a sexual assault, they must have confidence that the justice system will treat them with compassion and respect. They also deserve to leave with the sense that justice has been done.”

In February, Interim Conservative Party of Canada leader Rona Ambrose introduced the Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act, or The JUST Act. It is designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of its judges on the application of law in sexual assault trials.

Last Fall, Baillie introduced a bill in the Legislature that ensures victims’ right to be treated with respect when giving evidence about sexual violence. Baillie wants to see a full review of the laws around sexual assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.