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Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP seeks mandatory sex assault training for judiciary

CHEX TV/Peterborough

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott has introduced a private member’s bill that would require all sitting Ontario judges to undergo sexual assault training.

Bill 120 passed its second reading at Queen’s Park last week.

Scott says she’s heard too many stories about trial judges making comments that place blame on sexual assault victims.

“That is absolutely wrong,” Scott said. “We’ve seen many cases across the country.”

READ MORE: Quebec judge withdraws from sex case after saying teen victim ‘had a pretty face’

Scott says it comes down to a judicial system that needs a better understanding of the sensitivities and traumas victims face.

She says there is currently voluntary training for judges but her bill seeks to make that training mandatory.

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Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre executive director Sonya Vellenga says she welcomes the proposed legislation.

She says headlines about disparaging comments can discourage people from coming forward.

“They may very well say, ‘I don’t know if I trust the judicial system to hear my allegation with an impartial ear,'” she said.

Scott says she’s received a lot of support for her bill and expects it to move forward.

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