HALIFAX – Police are investigating after a woman reported a member of a Facebook group supporting convicted Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe breached a court-ordered ban on naming the victim.
Nicole Pettipas joined the “Justice for Lyle Howe” group yesterday out of curiosity after following the sexual assault case involving Howe. She says she wanted to learn more about Howe’s supporters.
The first posting she saw stunned her.
“I was shocked,” she said. “In the very first paragraph it identified the name of the victim.
“I took a screenshot and got out of there because I didn’t want to be involved in that and quite frankly, I still can’t believe that it was done.”
The woman’s identity is protected by a publication ban, and Pettipas said although it was hours before that post was deleted, she didn’t wait to contact police.
“For her name to be put out there takes that confidence away from anybody else that might be victimized in the future,” she said. “So it didn’t just affect this victim, it affected all women. It affected everybody.”
The Facebook group is closed to the public but has more than 6,100 members. According to Halifax Regional Police Const. Dianne Woodworth, they have received two formal complaints on the matter.
“We received information that the name of a victim involved in a sexual assault was disclosed and we’re investigating,” she said.
Under the criminal code, anyone found guilty of failing to comply with a publication ban can face summary offence charges, with a maximum penalty of $5,000 or six months in jail.
Pettipas said she’s worried about backlash from members of the group, but that she knew she had to speak up.
“To me, if they’re angry like that at her, then some of it could be directed at me, and I’ve made my choice and I’m OK with that,” she said. “Don’t shame the victim.”
Global News reached out to several of the administrators of the “Justice for Lyle Howe” group for comment, but none have responded yet.
© Shaw Media, 2014