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Sexual assault victim wins $1,000,000 court judgment

A woman filed a civil lawsuit against a man who assaulted her in the 1990s.
Thunder Bay Courthouse Winter
The Thunder Bay Courthouse.

THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay judge has ordered a man convicted of sexual assault to pay his victim about $1 million in total damages.

The case dates back to the 1990s.

Nine months after the assault, the victim gave birth.

DNA evidence established that the woman's attacker had fathered the child.

More than 20 years passed before a complaint was filed and charges were brought against the perpetrator, but he was ultimately sentenced to four years in penitentiary in 2018.

The court cited denunciation and deterrence as the principal objectives "in a case such as this where the offender has not accepted responsibility for his behaviour and has no insight into the harm he has caused."

On appeal, the sentence was reduced to three years.

The victim, however, also filed a civil suit against her attacker.

In a decision released this month, Superior Court Justice F.B. Fitzpatrick awarded damages totalling $1 million after considering affidavit evidence.

He said the evidence established how the victim had been re-traumatized multiple times throughout the legal process.

The court also considered evidence that the assault caused the woman long-lasting physical and psychological damage, and made her unable to maintain steady employment.

Judge Fitzpatrick awarded general and aggravated damages of $275,000, special damages of $72,000 for child support payments that were never made, $20,000 for future health care costs, and $632,000 for past loss of income.

The victim's lawyer, Natalie Gerry of Ericksons LLP, told TBNewswatch "The circumstances of this case were unique, but society is becoming more aware of the harm and trauma caused by sexual violence, and it seems the Courts are reflecting  this awareness with larger monetary awards."

Gerry said the message this case sends to other victims is that criminal prosecution is not the only way to obtain legal recognition of a wrong.

"In the right circumstances, a civil lawsuit can be brought and may provide a sense of justice being done, or may provide financial compensation," she said.

Gerry noted that monetary judgments can be collected in various ways, including through the seizure and sale of a perpetrator's property or other assets.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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