They call that justice?

Bob
Bob Wakeham
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

The more I've thought about the recent, highly debatable decision to reduce pedophile Barry Oake's jail sentence to house arrest, I've wondered about the impact the Appeal Court ruling is having on the many fragile victims of sexual abuse who've never come forward, alone and privately suffering psychological torture as they contemplate whether to take what would probably be the most significant step of their lives.
It's one thing for the public to be outraged, as it seemingly was (justifiably so, in my view), and to question the ruling that kept Oake - who abused four teenaged boys after soaking their resistance with booze - out of jail and, instead, moored at home, watching "Hockey Night in Canada," unable, poor boy, to even go to the Grand Falls mall to pick up socks and underwear.
But it's quite another to ponder the possible repercussions this strange decision will have on the inclination of other victims to approach the police and tell of child abusers who've entered their lives, or to share knowledge of perverts now able to use the Internet to get their jollies and throw the lives of more youngsters into emotional, sometimes suicidal, disarray.
If a victim of child sexual abuse is to make that difficult move of taking their nightmare public - I think you'd have to be in their shoes to realize just how tough a decision this is, or, at the very least, to have had the opportunity, as I have, to talk to dozens of them over the years - they would have to have some hope of closure; a guarantee, for example, that the person who has tormented their very being, perhaps for decades, will be severely punished.
They're not worried about their perpetrator's rehabilitation, or whether the Crown and defence have agreed that the circumstances surrounding the crime somehow warranted a light sentence, or whether a judge of a higher court believed a judge of a lower court had made a error in law - implying in this particular case, for example, that the initial sentence of 22 months in jail was an appeasement to a disgusted public demanding retribution.
If they do come forward, these victims of abuse, whose lives have been turned upside down, often shattered beyond repair (ameliorated on occasion by psychiatric treatment and medicine), want to see the person who turned their existence into hell on Earth pay dearly for his crimes.
They want to see their torturer made to suffer, for at least a while, in a nightmare in which they've been placed forever.
So countless, closeted victims of sexual abuse, having heard of that so-called enlightened Appeal Court decision (I'm sure that's how the court thought of its judgment) could be convinced to stay silent forever, knowing that if they went to hell and back to help form a case against an abuser, and see him convicted, that the person who ruined their lives could get the "Oake sentence."
And that's a shocking state of affairs.
You'd think Newfoundland, of all places, would have learned a thing or two about child abuse over the years. We seem to have, after all, the distinction of having pushed that snowball of sexual abuse off the hill, and watched it grow into an avalanche, one that has rolled up against the Pope's door.
Even as the Catholic brass in Ireland are apologizing for decades of abuse inflicted on young boys in that country, Germany reels from the latest accusations of abuse by priests there and the revelation that Pope Benedict himself was, as it turns out, the archbishop of a diocese when a pedophile/priest was moved from parish to parish to avoid detection. Benedict has predictably denied knowledge of such transfers, of course.
But it just appears so ironic to me that at a time when the Irish and the Germans deal with their child abuse history, back in Newfoundland - the place where many of these type of crimes revealed their deviant head - a molester is permitted to go home and put his feet up on the sofa, have a nap, watch a bit of television or read a book.
Public humiliation his heaviest burden.
Go figure.
I can't.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by e-mail at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Geographic location: Canada, Grand Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador Ireland Germany

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Sandi
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Thats sad. The court of queens bench in Saskatchewan has a law that also allows polygamy. The federal law is against it, but that province allows polygamy. Thats sad too. In that province of Canada ( Saskatchewan) they say people can be married and also have common law spouses..all at the same time! What's next from the crazy courts?

  • Frustrated taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    The underlying problem in this case, and several others is the appointment process for judges. Our provincial court bench is appointed according to their connections to Danny's tories, despite the fact that the provincial court bench is where most criminal cases are dealt with, the majority of appointments are lawyers with little or no criminal law experience. At $180k per year, its a nice plum. Judge Short is the exception, he had 10 years of criminal law experience.

    The Supreme Court is appointed by the federal tories on the same basis. In fact, despite the Lamer Inquiry recommending that the feds elevate provincial court judges, they continue to appoint lawyers that have no criminal law eperience to the highest courts...they then rule on the most serious of criminal law decisions. At about $267k per year, its a very nice plum.

    End result, political friends apopointed to the bench despite having no experience in criminal law and they make offender friendly decision. Experienced criminal lawyers are bypassed. Victims of crime suffer...criminals benefit.

    No good being mad at Danny, every political party has and will continue to do this until the selection process changes. But this is, as I see it, the underlying problem in this case and others like it.

  • Judge This look
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    The one thing I remember, and will take, from this whole fiasco, durning sentencing was what was said by the judge. The verdict has to merely Appear to the public that justice has been served. Which to me only means on the outside. So it is what it is, and it definitely is what it ain't or should never have been. The court proceedings are, most often, far more scarier then the actual crimes. What a system of process and way to punish the victims. Shameful

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    To Bob Wakeham , I say a very loud and boisterous THANK YOU . This is dirty laundry that needed to be exposed to the public . We have had everyone from talk show hosts to now retired politicians make the argument for plea bargaining in the case of Barry Oake . This man pleaded guilty to the indecent act of buggery . Laws are being rewritten to suit the needs of the criminal , but , not just your average old criminal mind you . These are the new high profile felons , usually someone who has been in a position of trust . They say justice is blind , I say it STINKS .

  • My3Cents
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I think we should start appointing judges that at one time were victims of crimes themselves. Or if they sentence house arrest, well, okay, drop them off at the judges house.

  • Isedabye
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    whats that you say...the premier has announced children as his newest highest priority...going to make sure their rights are protected....oh i see...and he does that by allowing HIS justice department make a JOINT SUBMISSION with the defence(represented by one of the premiers closest buddies)to agree with house arrest of an admitted pedophile...wellll...now see i know im stunned and all but i just didnt realize how stunned given i would never have thought thats how you protect children from societies lowest and worst....live and learn they say.

  • Sandi
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Thats sad. The court of queens bench in Saskatchewan has a law that also allows polygamy. The federal law is against it, but that province allows polygamy. Thats sad too. In that province of Canada ( Saskatchewan) they say people can be married and also have common law spouses..all at the same time! What's next from the crazy courts?

  • Frustrated taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    The underlying problem in this case, and several others is the appointment process for judges. Our provincial court bench is appointed according to their connections to Danny's tories, despite the fact that the provincial court bench is where most criminal cases are dealt with, the majority of appointments are lawyers with little or no criminal law experience. At $180k per year, its a nice plum. Judge Short is the exception, he had 10 years of criminal law experience.

    The Supreme Court is appointed by the federal tories on the same basis. In fact, despite the Lamer Inquiry recommending that the feds elevate provincial court judges, they continue to appoint lawyers that have no criminal law eperience to the highest courts...they then rule on the most serious of criminal law decisions. At about $267k per year, its a very nice plum.

    End result, political friends apopointed to the bench despite having no experience in criminal law and they make offender friendly decision. Experienced criminal lawyers are bypassed. Victims of crime suffer...criminals benefit.

    No good being mad at Danny, every political party has and will continue to do this until the selection process changes. But this is, as I see it, the underlying problem in this case and others like it.

  • Judge This look
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    The one thing I remember, and will take, from this whole fiasco, durning sentencing was what was said by the judge. The verdict has to merely Appear to the public that justice has been served. Which to me only means on the outside. So it is what it is, and it definitely is what it ain't or should never have been. The court proceedings are, most often, far more scarier then the actual crimes. What a system of process and way to punish the victims. Shameful

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    To Bob Wakeham , I say a very loud and boisterous THANK YOU . This is dirty laundry that needed to be exposed to the public . We have had everyone from talk show hosts to now retired politicians make the argument for plea bargaining in the case of Barry Oake . This man pleaded guilty to the indecent act of buggery . Laws are being rewritten to suit the needs of the criminal , but , not just your average old criminal mind you . These are the new high profile felons , usually someone who has been in a position of trust . They say justice is blind , I say it STINKS .

  • My3Cents
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I think we should start appointing judges that at one time were victims of crimes themselves. Or if they sentence house arrest, well, okay, drop them off at the judges house.

  • Isedabye
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    whats that you say...the premier has announced children as his newest highest priority...going to make sure their rights are protected....oh i see...and he does that by allowing HIS justice department make a JOINT SUBMISSION with the defence(represented by one of the premiers closest buddies)to agree with house arrest of an admitted pedophile...wellll...now see i know im stunned and all but i just didnt realize how stunned given i would never have thought thats how you protect children from societies lowest and worst....live and learn they say.