Private Investigations and Personal Security/Father accused of sexual assault
My parents own a laundromat in Ontario and alternate shifts; my father has the morning and evening shifts while my mother works for the most of the afternoon.
According to my father, last night (Sunday June 8), a girl from a local Women's Shelter had left her laundry past the time of closing. My father had planned to throw her laundry into the dryer and close up, expecting her to be back the next morning, but she somehow snuck back inside after the front door had been locked and proceeded to finish up. Annoyed, while my father had NOT laid a finger on her, he told her that if she had finished earlier he could have gone home sooner, and then they went their separate ways.
At around 2am this morning while I was asleep, my father was taken out of his bed and, without being given a chance to put on any clothes other than his sleeping shorts, was taken to jail handcuffed for being accused of sexual assault; apparently that girl had claimed he'd touched her around her genitals.
In the morning my mother got a phone call from the police, and she went and visited my father. Then, my parents went to the laundromat together with the police, who wanted to check to see if the incident had been caught on the security video camera there (it wasn't, the camera hadn't been turned on.) Now, upon talking with a lawyer briefly, apparently this was a "lenient" action on the part of the police, but my father was released for the time-being and allowed to go back to work today, while being advised to get a lawyer.
Now, assuming my father is innocent, could you please give us some advice on what to expect, how to handle these procedures and possible legal costs? I am a little shocked to hear that someone can be so unfairly treated without proof (the night spent in jail without clothes or blankets and with the air conditioning was hard on my father, who is 66 years old, who has recently been sick, and has asthma) and now has to pay lawyer fees to defend his character.
The girl in question is, as I said, from a Woman's Shelter, and may not be completely psychologically or mentally "fit". She may or may not even be a legal adult (father said she could be younger than 18).
Is this the standard procedure, that any man accused by a low-life or possible crackpot could be locked up without warning or proof and be forced to pay legal fees? Excuse my harsh words but I am just so outraged. My father is an immigrant and may not have had the ability to articulate or demand his right to put on some damn clothes, but something strikes me as awfully unjust about this whole thing.
If the girl cannot come up with good proof or testimony, can she be held responsible for our legal fees? Does it matter if she is over or under 18?
I would love a timely response to this. Thanks for any help.
-Ellen, University of Toronto student
First off your father needs to retain a criminal lawyer fully and without delay, not just talking to one. You can contact my office for a good criminal lawyer www.corpa.com if you are having trouble finding one based on your budget.
I can walk you through the criminal process or your lawyer can but I don't like giving legal advise.
With respect to collecting legal costs from this women/victim if her charge fails I will advise the following:
How do you expect to collect? She appears to be living in a shelter and her income maybe nothing more then welfare/social assitance. I would leave this issue alone for now. Maybe years later you can go after her in the civil court only if you believe you can collect from her.
Once your father has retained counsel there will be a meeting with the crown (one of many perhaps). At that time the crown will provide your lawyer with all the disclosure/evidence they have on your father. You will be given the statement she gave police, photographs, hospital visit, rape kit results etc... (if any).
If the charge is based on her statement alone then yes this would be a matter of credibility in court. Your lawyer can ask the crown for the criminal record of the victim and other police documents they have on her such as old occurance reports etc.. which might help to discover if the victim is mentally ill.
Mentally ill people, or people who are living on the street/shelters etc.. are often assaulted or sexually assaulted it happens frequently in major cities. So don't expect this to be a big defence issue.
I really think right now you should be working with your lawyer. It is premature to be looking to private investigators for help until such time as you have defence a lawyer and you have all your disclosure.
Let your lawyer determine if you really need a PI. I would also respectfully suggest not discussing your fathers case in an open forum such as this ever. Do it in private email to people of whom you ask for help. You could be hurting him when your trying to help him.
My speciallty is really civil and corporate however I have been involved in thousands of criminal cases.
I can refer you to a number of PI's who do criminal defence work but only after you have a lawyer representing your father.
Kevin Bousquet, CFE