HALIFAX – The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is applauding the Crown’s decision to appeal the acquittal of a Halifax cab driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger.
The local group is also calling for more community supports for those dealing with sexualized violence in the wake of the high profile case.
“There needs to be work done, through all levels of the legal process, to ensure that laws are implemented and initiated effectively in support of victim’s access to justice,” said Avalon’s executive director, Jackie Stevens. “And this is certainly a step in that direction.”
Stevens said high profile cases like that of Bassam Al-Rawi, no matter the outcome, lead to more people coming forward to share their stories.
In a news release, deputy director of public prosecutions Denise Smith said Tuesday after legal analysis of Lenehan’s decision, the crown has concluded there is a solid basis to appeal.
The crown contends in its appeal that Lenehan erred in applying the law in a number of areas, including his assertion the crown provided no evidence of the complainants lack of consent and that he failed in his interpretation of the “application of the test for capacity to consent.”
Among other things, the appeal also says that Lenehan erred by “engaging in speculation on the issue of consent rather than drawing inferences from the facts proven in the evidence.”
“What this case demonstrates is there is a need to clarify further the laws of consent in the context of intoxication,” Stevens said.
Stevens said the provincial sexual violence strategy has given increased short-term funding for sexual assault services but that long term sustainable funding is needed to meet the growing demand across the province.
She adds community members, businesses, and legal professionals all have a critical role to play in supporting the victims of sexual assault within our community.