An application by four siblings to allow their identities to be printed was dismissed as a judge said he didn’t have the authority to remove a publication ban of their names.
The four had leveled accusations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse against their mother over a 13-year period in the 1980s and 1990s.
Red Deer provincial court judge James Glass convicted the mother of one count of assault causing bodily harm, while acquitting her of 17 other charges including 13 counts of assault, two counts of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of sexual assault on Sept. 3.
The 63-year-old woman can’t be identified because naming her could identify the victims, who are protected by the publication ban.
On Sept. 3, all four siblings submitted sworn letters to Glass asking for the publication ban to be lifted. Publications bans are typically granted to protect the identity of victims of sexual offences.
In his ruling Thursday in Red Deer provincial court, Glass said he did not have the authority to bury or lift the publication ban. He did say the Court of Queen’s Bench may have the power and a proper application made to the higher court may be considered.
Muddying matters about their application to remove the publication ban is whether or not the victims have the standing to make such an application. As Glass pointed out, the new legislation from the Conservative government, called the Victim Bill of Rights, does not allow for victims to make an application to lift a publication ban.
However, case law from a 1994 ruling does allow the application to be made by the siblings at the Court of Queen’s Bench level.
The mother admitted guilt in the assault causing bodily harm charge during her three-day trial from June 22 to 24.
Her eldest son recalled coming to with his mother sitting on his chest, repeatedly hitting him across the face. He said he had two black eyes, a split lip, multiple lacerations and bruises. The youngest son corroborated the incident saying he saw his brother get punched in the head and knocked out. The mother then dragged the eldest son into the living room, sat on his chest and hit him in the head repeatedly.
A further ruling was needed on which victim impact statements would be eligible to be read at the sentencing hearing. A total of six statements were submitted from the siblings and their spouses. However, Crown Prosecutor Ed Ring and defence counsel Dave Inglis said only one victim impact statement was eligible to be read.
Ring noted because the woman was found guilty of only one charge, only the victim of that offence was eligible to have his victim impact statement considered. However, complicating matters was that his victim impact statement was written before the conviction and acquittals and covers a wide range of times and incidents.
Inglis said the victim impact statement shouldn’t be heard as it addressed many incidents and not the single incident for which the mother was convicted.
Glass gave the 40-year-old male victim the chance to write a new victim impact statement. Sentencing has been adjourned to Sept. 30 in Red Deer provincial court for consideration of the new statement.
Inglis and Ring estimated the hearing would take about two hours.