Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled, jailed

Judicial council: Judge Raymond Bodnarek acted on Crown’s advice, tried to minimize victim’s hardship

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

An Alberta judge has been cleared of misconduct in the case of a sexual assault victim who was shackled in court and imprisoned during her testimony.

The Alberta Judicial Council says provincial court Judge Raymond Bodnarek acted on the advice of the Crown and tried to minimize hardship to the victim where possible.

The council says Bodnarek could have pushed lawyers on why the woman had to be shackled in court, but the fact he didn’t doesn’t amount to judicial misconduct.

“Where Judge Bodnarek made a specific ruling at each stage of the proceedings, the ruling was intended to serve the objectives of the best administration of justice,” the council said in a decision issued Friday.

The case involved an Indigenous woman, whose name can’t be published, but who has been referred to under the pseudonym Angela Cardinal.

The 28-year-old was forced to spend five nights in the Edmonton Remand Centre during her testimony at a 2015 preliminary hearing for Lance Blanchard, the man who attacked her.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Court heard Cardinal was homeless and sleeping in an apartment stairwell when she was attacked and dragged into Blanchard’s suite. She was stabbed in the temple and hand as she attempted to fight off the sexual assault.

The complainant was made to testify at the hearing while she was shackled and handcuffed and, on at least two occasions, was put in the same prisoner van as her attacker on the way to court.

Blanchard was found guilty in December 2016, but Cardinal was not alive to see it. She had died in an unrelated accidental shooting.

The Court of Queen’s Bench judge who found Blanchard guilty, Justice Eric Macklin, sharply criticized the treatment of Cardinal at the preliminary hearing, calling it appalling.

The case made headlines last June following a CBC report that prompted Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley to commission a report into Cardinal’s treatment.

That report, by Manitoba lawyer Roberta Campbell, was also issued Friday.

It found that the Crown prosecutor sought to have Cardinal remanded during her testimony because it was felt there was a risk she wouldn’t come to court.

The report said while Cardinal had been ”somewhat belligerent” in court, “there had not been any incident of her failing to attend (in court) when required to do so.”

The report said Bodnarek was acting on faulty information when he ruled Cardinal be detained.

The judicial council noted Bodnarek took steps to keep Cardinal and Blanchard apart when he heard they were being transported in the same van. It said he also took other measures to keep the two as far away from each other as possible in court.

Ganley, reacting to Campbell’s report, said shackling policies are being revised to ensure that an accused and an alleged victim or witness are kept separated if both are incarcerated.

She said the report found that while the Cardinal case raised larger systemic problems, there was no evidence anyone directly involved was motivated by racism or racist beliefs.

“Every alternative will be exhausted by Crown prosecutors, working with criminal justice partners and law enforcement, before seeking the detention of a witness or a victim of crime,” said Ganley.

“When victims come forward to tell their story, we need to ensure that not only are they heard, but they are treated with compassion and respect.”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Spray Park Committee hosting kid friendly New Year’s Eve party

The Sylvan Lake Spray Park Committee is hosting the Kids Countdown Party fundraiser on Dec. 31

Sylvan Lake Grade 6 students learn about municipal government first-hand

Grade 6 students are learning about municipal government and attended Monday’s Council meeting

PHOTOS: A unique set up for Sylvan Lake’s most recent Christmas market

The first annual Stocking Stuffer Market was held on Dec. 8 in the NexSource Centre

PHOTO: Angels Anonymous deliver Christmas toys once again

All the tags from the Angels Anonymous Tree at Dairy Queen have been claimed

Four new paramedics for Sylvan Lake

The provincial government announced Sylvan Lake will see an increase of four new EMS staff

Girl opens Christmas present she gave to boy when she dumped him in 1971

Adrian Pearce, now a married father of two, received the small present from his highschool sweetheart

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Alberta Finance Minister says equalization program not working

Equalization formula fails Alberta again, says UCP

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

Most Read