An Edmonton judge mistakenly called a sexual assault victim by her attacker’s name before jailing and shackling her during testimony.
The 28-year-old woman, who was from central Alberta, was forced to spend five nights at the Edmonton Remand Centre during her testimony at a 2015 preliminary hearing for Lance Blanchard, the man who attacked her.
Global News has obtained recordings from what has proven to be a controversial court case.
“Ms. Blanchard…” the judge said during a particularly emotional time during the case.
“I’m not Ms. Blachard!” the victim yelled, as the prosecutor corrected him.
“I’m sorry, that was my mistake,” the judge said.
“I’d rather just f**** grab one of your guy’s guns and shoot myself,” the witness replied.
From the beginning of her testimony, the woman, who can’t be identified because of a publication ban, seemed troubled and told the court a number of times that she didn’t want to be there. At one point, she was asked numerous times to stop spinning in her chair on the stand.
“I’ve got nowhere else to go,” the victim replied.
On request of the prosecutor, the judge ordered that the woman be taken to the Edmonton Remand Centre for the weekend.
Her testimony resumed the following Monday afternoon and as she entered the courtroom, shackles could be heard. She apologized for her actions during the prior proceedings and asked that she be “un-remanded” and allowed to stay with her mother.
“I really don’t want to go back there,” she told the judge.”Like, I’m the fricking victim here and I mean like, come on!”
She was ordered to spend the length of the trial in the remand centre, the same facility where her attacker was being held and on at least two occasions was transported in the same van to and from court.
“You sit in the back of those cells. It feels like fricking an hour went by but really it’s only 20 minutes,” she said.
The chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund said Wednesday the way the sexual assault victim was treated, was dehumanizing.
“She is someone who was incredibly traumatized by this very violent assault and she was treated with an utter lack of dignity,” Lise Gotell said. “The assault that she endured was like something out of a horror movie.”
Watch below: Legal expert ‘shocked and horrified’ over treatment of Alberta sexual assault victim
“Indigenous women are mistreated in the criminal justice system, it’s not just this case,” she said. “We need to make some real changes to make sure that won’t happen.”
Gotell believes that the victim may have had issues concentrating and staying awake because, for safety reasons, women who live on the street often sleep during the day and stay awake all night.
“She wanted to stay with her mother,”Gotell said. “There was no suggestion she wasn’t going to come back the next day.”
A different judge — who found Blanchard guilty of aggravated assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement and aggravated sexual assault — noted the woman’s treatment in his decision last December.
“She was clearly distraught and, using her word, ‘panicking.’ She was somewhat belligerent,” Justice Eric Macklin wrote. “Concerns were expressed as to her behaviour and whether she would voluntarily reattend on the following Monday to continue her testimony.”
Macklin expressed regret that the young woman was kept in custody.
“She was remanded into custody on the mistaken belief that she was ‘a flight risk’ and that she was simply incapable of participating properly in the court proceedings,” he wrote.
The victim in the case was killed during an accidental shooting before she received an apology issued by the provincial government to her family.
The family wants a publication ban on her name to be lifted. They say they don’t want her to be just another statistic.
With files from The Canadian Press.