EDMONTON, AB (April 15, 2013): Today, Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson joined Dani Polsom, a victim of an Airdrie sexual assault case that was thrown out due to court delays, along with her family and friends to present a petition to the Alberta government that urges further reforms to the Alberta Justice system to protect future victims of serious crimes.
In August 2009, Polsom, her mother Alison Jones and her stepsister first reported that Polsom had been sexually assaulted from when she was nine until she was 17. In October 2012, due to court delays and a lack of resources for Crown prosecutors, the trial was thrown out, resulting in an eventual internal review by Alberta Justice. The petition – which Anderson will present in the Legislature this afternoon – urges the Legislative Assembly to pass legislation that includes the following recommendations:
- Expedite all cases of crimes against children;
- Automatically trigger an outside investigation, independent of Alberta Justice, when cases are stayed due to institutional or Crown delays, in order to determine the causes of such delays as well as solutions to ensure such delays do not happen again;
- Grant victims over 18 the right to waive media bans on their name if they choose to speak publicly about their victimization;
- Publish the number of Crown stay of proceedings and withdrawals annually with an updated action plan from the Attorney General detailing how this problem is being addressed; and
- Ensure the government allocates adequate resources to ensure the Crown Prosecutor’s office is able to effectively manage all prosecutions against violent offenders, especially those charged with sexual and other violent crimes against children.
“The petition being presented today is a direct result of the bravery and resilience of Dani, her family, her friends and the entire community of Airdrie telling the province that we can never again fail our most innocent victims,” Anderson said. “Due to Dani’s courage in speaking out against this flagrant miscarriage of justice, we saw Alberta Justice make an important first step in bringing reform to a broken system. I hope the government will do the right thing today, listen directly to the victims and accept the recommendations of today’s petition as soon as possible so we can close the several gaps remaining in our Justice system.” With trial delays not being an isolated incident in Airdrie, Polsom said that she hopes that today’s petition will bring more attention to an issue that has become all too common in Alberta’s Justice system. “We’re so thankful for all the support we’ve had from our friends and family in Airdrie and from people across Alberta as we continue to fight to ensure no victims in this province have to experience what we’ve gone through, ever again,” Polsom said. “We were happy to see the first steps this government took in the report that was issued on Friday. We’re hoping that the Justice Minister and this government will listen to our petition and ensure legislation is passed and rules are changed in order to better protect future victims.” “Without our MLA Rob Anderson taking us seriously none of this would have happened,” Jones said. “We would like to thank him and hope he knows just how much everything he has done is appreciated.”