Injustices in the courtroom when it comes to sexual assault and rape cases are no stranger to the Canadian criminal law system. As of recent it seems that every few weeks a new and shocking headline gets released detailing sentencing or for better word, a lacking of it that has particularly rubbed Canadians the wrong way in light of the growing #MeToo movement.
The drama surrounding one specific sexual assault case in Halifax though doesn't have much to do with the alleged attacker but rather the judge himself. The judge in Nova Scotia was heavily scrutinized for his inappropriate comments during the case that many believed would at least result in some sort of trouble from the judicial board.
In regards to the actual case, Judge Gregory Lenehan had decided to let a 40 year old man cab driver named Bassam Al-Rawi go free from a case where the victim claimed Al-Rawi had sexually assaulted her. She had been discovered by police unconscious in his cab in May of 2015 passed out naked from the waist down with her breasts exposed. While Bassam had been discovered by police with the zipper of his pants pulled part way down.
Though it's not just the verdict that has angered the public. Lenehan mentioned in the case while announcing the verdict that "clearly, a drunk can consent." The comment did not go over well and resulted in a province-wide outcry from both men and women alike who felt his decision and reasoning perpetuated rape culture as well as an overall social bias.
That wasn't the only comment that landed Lenehan in hot water with the public. Considering that he called out a woman who was breastfeeding her child in the courtroom, telling her to "take that out of the courtroom." As a result the numerous instances resulted in a protest in Nova Scotia that sparked the hashtag "#protestlenehan."
The public's frustration with the judge resulted in a secondary investigation being opened to find if there was any kind of bias involved in Lenehan's decision. Though it was revealed on Wednesday that the review committee reached the decision that they found no bias in his decision. Claiming that while "certain phrases may be benefited from more careful and contextual reflection," that he was not guilty of breaching judicial law.
While the acquittal of Bassam has since been overturned on behalf of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, regardless of the verdict it's practically unanimously agreed on that Lenehan's comments were out of line and inappropriate.
Unfortunately this isn't the first and most likely won't be the last instance of injustice in regards to a sexual assault case, but we can only hope that the continued frustration from the public will amount to change happening soon.
Source: Huff Post Canada