I think that before an accuser goes to someone’s boss, or goes public and accuses someone of harassment that they should really think it through, because what they are about to do will definitely have serious consequences for the person or persons they will be accusing. I think that the accuser should be forced to prove the accusations they made, or be forced to publicly admit that they were mistaken and restore if possible the harm done to the accused besmirched reputation. This is not a game and as we have been witnessing for a while now, the rush to protect and make it safe for people to come forward with complaints has swung the pendulum so far in favor of the accuser that the accused is being denied due process of law and is often prosecuted, tried and sentenced in the work place often leading to premature firing based on unproven allegations, because their accusers refuse to lay official charges that would cause them to lose their own anonymity.
There can be no secrecy, no anonymity, or backroom deals seeking to protect only one side of the equation and so if the accused anonymity is taken away from them then the equation should be balanced by the taking away of the anonymity of the accuser. Only openness and transparency will prove to all that both the accused and the accuser got a fair chance to be heard and that justice was served, so why allow for anonymity at all? I understand that we wish to create an environment where accusers feel safe to come forward and feel that they will not be re-victimized, but does that mean that the accused has to lose all of their rights and get prosecuted, tried, convicted and sentenced by the court of public opinion? Is the accused in these situations always to lose everything based on accusations now without having received even the benefit of due process as guaranteed to them as citizens of Canada, such as
- the benefit of a legitimate independent fair process that will determine guilt or innocence, only after both sides of the evidence has been produced, verified, challenged and weighed by legally recognised authority such as a review board, judicial panel, judge, or jury?
- knowing what it is exactly that they are being accused of so that they can speak to the allegations, know why they are being fired, or suspended from their jobs and be afforded the right to defend themselves?
- the right of the accused to face their accuser when there is no threat to the accuser’s life, which means the accuser is forced to also lose their anonymity by having to actually make a formal charge against the accused?
If the accused is to lose all of the above mentioned rights and safeguards, I contend that there is no longer any balance in Canadian law.
I think that in these cases as hard as it is for them, in the interest of justice being equal for both sides, the accuser needs not only be prepared to back it up their accusations in a court of law or other regulatory board, but be obligated to do so under the law. I think that it is rich for these two female MPs to only be concerned about what will happen to them if they are exposed as the accusers, when it is those accused in private who are being made to suffer grievous damage to their careers, reputations and personal lives, because of their accusations, which they have up now refused to make into official complaints. It is as though they are too immature to understand that this is not a game that they are in control of doling out the punishment in, or where the guilty person gets a time out with their nose in a corner and who will be welcomed back into the flock after promising to behave better in the future.
We seem to be entering an era where if a person wants to do is ruin somebody else’s life, all they need do is make an accusation of wrong doing to someone in charge, stating, “I was harassed, or sexually abused,” in a convincing enough manner and the process is set in place to make the accused life a living hell publicly while the accuser sits anonymously if they choose enjoying the protection of the anonymity granted to them not by law, but by society’s pendulum that has swung too far in my opinion in favor of not wishing to embarrass them.
In the case of the CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi no one seems to care that,
- he has not been charged legally with anything.
- nothing has been proved to verify his guilt.
- he has not had his day in court. No evidence to prove that anything was by force and instead the evidence leans to it was indeed consensual.
I believe that the CBC to fired Jian Ghomeshi, because they do not like his taste in sex. I think that firing him, or anyone else, because their sexual preferences and practices is the same as firing someone because of their sexual orientation (same-sex) which I believe is discriminatory at best. What I am getting at is that all evidence should be brought out in a court of law, because that is what the courts are for.
Remembering that the CBC is being sued for $55 million dollar for wrongful dismissal by Jian Ghomeshi, does in not seem a little inappropriate for the CBC to set itself up as the prosecution, judge and jury trying the case everyday very publicly on their news channel?
I have always thought that a person was presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and yet people are being fired from their jobs and their lives ruined in a very public and irreversible way, because they have been accused of something. Employers are rushing to show that they are sympathetic to the alleged victim and forgetting that they could be hurting innocent people. I ask how is this fair, how is this legal and why in heaven is this injustice being allowed to continue. I believe that once an accused is proved guilty in a court of law then and only then should the now guilty person be able to be punished by an employer, if the process is indeed meant to be fair and without prejudice.
What was the purpose of the two female MPs accusing the two male MPs from another party of the serious charge of harassment and why would they go as far as bringing the allegations to the attention of said male MP’s party leader if they did not want to harm the careers of the 2 male MPs; I have to wonder
- were these 2 women just annoyed and decided to get back at the male MPs figuring wrongly that it would not go any further than a warning?
- did these 2 female MPs think that it is okay to do all this in secret and what kind of example are they giving to Canadian women who do not have the luxury of going before a private panel, or do not have privilege? What are they saying to every day women who if they come forward have to face those that they accuse in a court of law and prove publicly that what they are stating happened did in fact happen?
Now some may say that it is putting the alleged victim on trial and re victimizing the accuser again, but I disagree because
- Until the accused is found guilty of something there is no victim, only an alleged victim.
- Being accused and charged with a crime no matter how hyenas is not evidence of guilt, in and of itself.
- Siding with one side or the other before all of the evidence is in leaves us with what has happened in the CBC case and the case involving the MP’s; the accused are being exposed and dealt with like they have been already been found guilty in a court of law. In each case the accused has been removed from their jobs, with irrefutable damage done to them personally and professionally, while their accusers refuse to be publicly identified, refuse to lay formal charges and without showing any proof to back up their accusations presumed to be telling the truth.
I believe that if anyone is guilty of the acts that these people have been accused of then they should of course be punished to the full extent of the law, but the accused do have rights that cannot simply be pushed aside to make it easier for certain alleged victims to come forward. Why would we as a society presume that the accuser just has to be telling the truth and protect them from scrutiny by virtue of giving them their anonymity to hide behind.
In closing I would ask you to play the role of the accused and ask yourself these few questions:
- In our haste to protect the accuser and encourage them to come forward have we unintentionally marginalised the impact that these types of accusations put on the accused, their families, their reputations and their ability to find employment going forward?
- Have we sacrificed the rights of the accused whose lives will never be the same again as long as their anonymity is allowed to be taken away form them before there is a legal finding?
- Are we as a society forgetting that both sides always feel that they are right in situations like these?
- That not everyone that accuses someone of doing something wrong is telling the truth and that sometimes the accuser could be settling a grudge that has nothing to do with the accusation?
- That sometimes what the accuser perceives as a crime is not actually a crime at all according to the laws of Canada
The answering of these questions and the ferreting out the truth from the lies, the facts from the fiction and the motives of all sides, is what due process is about and why an accused is always considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law, or by some other legally recognised body. I think that we are reverting to the days of mob rule, lynching and a time where people took the law into their own hands. There are good reasons for due process of law and I would suggest that we get back to it before more people are hurt unnecessarily and irreversibly by our avoidance of it.