Albertan higher court delivers scathing rebuke of rape apologist

Content Notice: Sexual assault, detailed description of said assault, rape apology, victim blaming.

Provincial Court Judge Michael Savaryn was served the most unambiguous open-and-shut case of sexual assault I can imagine, and still managed to fuck it up: (emphasis added)

Incident captured on video

The interaction was captured on a video entered as an exhibit at trial and watched by the judge. It showed the girl smiling and giggling. The boy then pushed the girl into a locker, grabbed again at her buttocks, ran his hands over her body and tried to kiss her. She quickly moved away and told him to leave.

The two moved out of camera range. The boy ignored the girl’s demand and followed her, then pushed her into a closed doorway, Topolniski wrote. For a third time he grabbed her buttocks, then her breasts, and tried to kiss her as she tried to push him away and fend him off with a water bottle.

The boy said she should “just let him do it.”

She said no and told him it wasn’t right. The girl wasn’t laughing anymore. She got away from the boy and left the school. But he approached her one last time outside school to ask for a hug. She said no and walked away, but he came back, grabbed her and hugged her.

Upset, uncomfortable, disrespected

The girl said she was upset, uncomfortable and felt disrespected. But later that night she texted a male friend about what had happened and attached a smiley face with tears and tried to make light of the incident. She testified that she thought if she had told her friend how upset she was, he would likely have tried to hurt her attacker.

The trial judge decided the girl’s actions did not match her words.

Savaryn decided the victim appeared to be “complacent” because she didn’t seem to be upset about the boy’s advances or try to fend them off until the doorway incident, even though she said no twice at the locker and in the doorway.

The trial judge found the girl “tried so hard to laugh it all off that I do not believe she was successful in communicating her discomfort … even at the end, I am not convinced she clearly expressed her objections.”

Savaryn, a former Edmonton Catholic school trustee, found the boy “did not mean to touch the girl sexually without her consent” and described the girl’s actions as “at worst, ambivalent or tolerant.”

Rape apologists. In the Edmonton Catholic Schoolboard? Say it ain’t so.

Thankfully we also have an Albertan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice by the name of Juliana Topolniski, who expressed her acerbic rebuke of Savaryn’s ruling:

These findings do not accord with the law on consent. Even if the trial judge was correct
that consent was given to touching before the doorway incident (which I do not think can be
concluded without resort to prohibited reasoning), it is clear that any such consent was
withdrawn. Consent means “Yes”. The word “No” does not mean “Yes”. The word “No”
coupled with fending off an attacker with a water bottle does not mean “Yes”. There is nothing
ambiguous about it. Even if the situation was as the trial judge found “at best ambiguous”, that is
not “Yes”. Finally, the complainant’s state of mind after the incident is irrelevant to the question
of consent. Indeed, the trial judge’s consideration on the complainant’s post-incident conduct is
indicative of sexual stereotyping about how victims of sexual assault will behave. As an
example, the requirement that a complainant raise the hue and cry has long since passed into the
mists of time.

“Prohibited reasoning.” Damn, Justice Tolpolniski. That’s a fancy way to say “incompetent dipshit.”


This article was written on July 26 and put on the schedule, shortly before same story was signal boosted on Pharyngula’s “Discuss through a feminist lens” post by Excluded Layman.



  1. says

    Canada has double jeopardy, but the Supreme Court has ruled that cases can be revisited or retried if errors in law can be demonstrated as affecting the verdict.

    After Ontario judge Martin Zuker’s brilliant and wonderful ruling on a rape case about rape myths, one would hope the Supreme Court get off its collective rump and retries all the rape cases where the victim’s life was put on trial. I won’t hold my breath, but unlike women in the US (the Stanford student, Landen Gambill, Emma Sulkowicz), Canadian women might actually have a chance at justice.

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I know what you mean, left0ver1under, but I think I would say that Canada prohibits double jeopardy.