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Vancouver Rape Relief’s letter to Assistant Deputy Attorney General

By Hilla Kerner
February 24, 2021
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Mr. Peter Juk, QC
Assistant Deputy Attorney General
BC Prosecution Service

Dear Mr. Juk,

I am writing to you regarding the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal on R. v. Virk. (Citation: 2021 BCCA 58) from February 10, 2021. As I am sure you are aware, the Court has dismissed the Crown’s appeal on Justice Armstrong’s ruling of a stay of proceedings.

We have been supporting the victims and closely following the case for years. We are very aware and appreciative of the dedication shown by the Crown prosecutor, Ms. Dufour, through the original trial and by the Crown’s decision to appeal Justice Armstrong’s ruling and to retain Mr. McKinnon for the appeal. We urge you to carry on this commitment and seek an application to appeal the BCCA’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. This case carries national importance because it exemplifies the devastating implications of the Jordan decision on sexual assault cases across the country. Applying the Jordan ruling to cases of sexual assault, let alone to cases in which charges were laid before the Jordan ruling came into effect, not only undermines but also contradicts the criminal justice system’s premise of offenders’ accountability and justice for the victims.

It is common knowledge that most sexual assault cases are not reported to the police and that less than half of those reported will result in a charge being laid; of these, only half will proceed to court and only a quarter will result in a conviction (of which only half are sentenced to custody in a correctional centre). The stay of the proceedings of a man, who repeatedly abused his young cousins over a period of years, reinforces what men in Canada already know too well – they can rape women and children with impunity. We cannot tolerate it and we expect that you will not tolerate it as well.

The Court of Appeal conclusion states harshly in its disposition that, “A stay of proceedings in these circumstances marks a failure of the justice system” and that “failure on the part of the defence was compounded by the failure of the crown and the court”. Clearly, the Court of Appeal is urging a more vigorous approach on the part of the Crown. We believe an appeal on this decision will display the desirable approach to this case in particular and sexual assault cases in general.

We are calling on you to instruct for a further appeal on this case. This case deserves the attention and deliberation of Canada’s highest court.

Respectfully,

Hilla Kerner, Front line worker
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

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