Women in British Columbia are uniting to ask Parliament to alter the laws governing publication restrictions imposed by courts in sexual assault cases.
The existing laws, they claim, keep sexual assault victims silent and keep them in the dark while shielding the abusers.
The federal government is urged to make a number of changes regarding how victims are informed of publication bans on their cases of sexual assault, give victims a choice as to whether a publication ban is implemented or not, and assist victims in getting those publication bans lifted if they so choose. The petition e-4192 is sponsored by NDP Victoria MP Laurel Collins.
Kelly Favro, a 39-year-old Victoria mother who underwent the peculiar process of attempting to have a publication removed from her name in June 2021, started the petition. She referred to her battle as “humiliating,” which motivated her to work to prevent future women from going through what she did.
Kenneth Charles Erickson, who sexually assaulted Favro, received a December 2016 sentence of 18 months supervised release. In 2017, Erickson filed a judicial appeal against the ruling, and the case was not resolved until three years later, in 2020.
In December of that year, Favro looked up Erickson’s name in the provincial court services online (sometimes abbreviated as CSO) database, which allows users to look up criminal and traffic cases online. She anticipated learning more about Erickson’s case as she was aware he had been found guilty. However, none existed. That’s because Favro was unaware that a publication ban had been placed on her case.
According to Favro, CSO is a frequent precaution women take before face-to-face encounters in an effort to protect themselves. But no one could get such information because of the publication ban on her case.
Favro then petitioned the British Columbia Supreme Court to lift the restriction. She thought the procedure would be straightforward, but discovered that it required affidavits and months of debating.