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Director of Colchester Sexual Assault Centre finds Halifax case unsettling

Margaret Mauger
Margaret Mauger

TRURO, N.S. – The executive director of the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre is concerned comments and the decision of a judge in a sexual assault trial could result in more victims who don’t come forward.

On Wednesday, Judge Gregory Lenehan ruled taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi was not guilty of sexual assault in a 2015 incident where an intoxicated, unconscious woman with most of her clothing removed was found in his cab.

['Clearly a drunk can consent,' judge says in acquitting taxi driver charged with sexual assault]

“This is very disturbing, scary and extremely concerning,” said Margaret Mauger. “I think this judge needs accurate information. That a person we hold in this calibre doesn’t understand consent is frightening. I’m almost speechless.”

She noted people who are intoxicated cannot legally vote or sign a contract for a vehicle or house because it is recognized their judgment is impaired. So it shouldn’t be difficult to understand they are unable to make important decisions related to sex.

“She urinated on her clothing; that speaks to how intoxicated she was.”

Mauger is concerned decisions like this deter victims of sexual assault from reporting incidents.

Although he couldn’t comment on the Halifax case, Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil encourages victims of any crime to come forward.

“We take crimes against the person very seriously,” he said. “We recognize things can be very difficult because a person is often traumatized and feels embarrassed, but we’re not here to judge. We’re here to gather evidence and support victims. If you’re a victim don’t feel embarrassed or that you’re wasting our time.”

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On Wednesday, Judge Gregory Lenehan ruled taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi was not guilty of sexual assault in a 2015 incident where an intoxicated, unconscious woman with most of her clothing removed was found in his cab.

['Clearly a drunk can consent,' judge says in acquitting taxi driver charged with sexual assault]

“This is very disturbing, scary and extremely concerning,” said Margaret Mauger. “I think this judge needs accurate information. That a person we hold in this calibre doesn’t understand consent is frightening. I’m almost speechless.”

She noted people who are intoxicated cannot legally vote or sign a contract for a vehicle or house because it is recognized their judgment is impaired. So it shouldn’t be difficult to understand they are unable to make important decisions related to sex.

“She urinated on her clothing; that speaks to how intoxicated she was.”

Mauger is concerned decisions like this deter victims of sexual assault from reporting incidents.

Although he couldn’t comment on the Halifax case, Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil encourages victims of any crime to come forward.

“We take crimes against the person very seriously,” he said. “We recognize things can be very difficult because a person is often traumatized and feels embarrassed, but we’re not here to judge. We’re here to gather evidence and support victims. If you’re a victim don’t feel embarrassed or that you’re wasting our time.”

RELATED:

Halifax mayor: 'I don’t want somebody like that driving a taxi in this municipality'

Leah Parsons joins voices calling for review of judge who said 'clearly a drunk can consent'

Halifax taxi driver acquitted of sexual assault hasn't driven cab since he was charged

#HaliLadyCab: Women offering drives for others wary of taking Halifax taxis

Protests planned, petitions signed, complaints rolling in over Halifax judge's consent comments

Taxi association head: driver acquitted on sex charge won’t drive for Halifax companies

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