Treatment of Sex Assault Victim by Court Was 'Appalling': Judge

Canadian victim had to ride more than once in van with her attacker
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2017 12:12 PM CDT

(Newser) – Without anywhere else to go, the homeless woman nestled in next to a heater in the stairwell of an Edmonton apartment building and fell asleep. She awoke to a man holding a knife to her throat. The woman had no idea that the man, Lance Blanchard, was a convicted sexual predator who lived in the building and was deemed a "significant risk" by police, reports the Edmonton Sun. But she soon learned what he was capable of. She was dragged to his apartment, sexually assaulted, and stabbed before she was able to make a 911 call. But a year later, in 2015, the unidentified woman was led into court to testify against him while in chains. "I'm the victim and look at me, I'm in shackles," the woman told Alberta Judge Raymond Bodnarek, per the CBC. "Aren't you supposed to commit a crime to go to jail?"

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During her first day of testimony, the woman had difficulty answering questions and repeatedly fell asleep. Citing a law regarding uncooperative witnesses, Bodnarek ordered that she be held in custody. Days later, she begged to be released, but the judge refused, promising she would be kept away from Blanchard, who was held at the same facility. Instead, at least twice over her five nights in custody, she was taken to court in the same prisoner transport van as her attacker. When Blanchard was eventually convicted of aggravated sexual assault and other crimes, a judge described the woman's treatment as "appalling." By that time, she was dead, a victim of an accidental shooting. Alberta's justice minister says an investigation into her treatment is now underway. (Read more Canada stories.)

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