Publication ban violates 'fundamental right,' CBC argues
A Kamloops lawyer representing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a bid to have a decades-old publication ban lifted said it should be a "fundamental right" of the victim to be able to tell his story.
Steve Dumont, appearing in Kamloops provincial court today (Jan. 12) on behalf of the CBC, also cited what is arguably the highest-profile sexual-assault case in recent Canadian history — that of disgraced hockey coach Graham James — in seeking the removal of the ban.
"It's almost to deprive them [the complainant] of a fundamental right if this ban stays in place," the lawyer said.
"They should have the right to say, 'I was a victim.'"
Dumont mentioned Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury — both of whom formerly played in the National Hockey League, and both of whom were abused by James while in their teens.
Kennedy was the complainant on James' original charges. Fleury came forward years later, resulting in charges to which James pleaded guilty last month.
Dumont said allowing victims of sexual assaults to tell their stories — if they desire to do so — can result in new victims coming forward, new charges being laid and new convictions being entered.
The CBC has the permission of the victim to allow him to tell his story, but can't do so legally because of the ban put in place in 1991, when the offender was sentenced.
The broadcaster has said the sooner the ban is lifted, the sooner those potential further victims can come forward.
Further complicating the matter is the fact the sentencing judge — who imposed the publication ban in the first place, and who therefore has the authority to revoke it — has since died.
Court also heard there is no audio recording or written transcript of the hearing at which the ban was put in place.
The lawyer representing the convicted man argued that because so little is known about the nature of the ban and why it was put in place, it would be unfair to lift it.
Kamloops provincial court Judge Sheri Donegan said she will issue a written decision at a later date.
"I am aware that time is of the essence to the CBC and our complainant," she said.
"I'll endeavour to do that as soon as possible."