PRINCE ALBERT, SK - A native women's group is getting involved in the appeals of a high-profile Saskatchewan sexual assault case.
A judge has granted intervener status to the Native Women's Association of Canada. It allows the group to participate in the case of three Tisdale men accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old Cree girl.
Jeffrey Brown, Jeffrey Kindrat and Dean Edmondson were arrested in 2001. Edmondson was later convicted, but the others were acquitted by a Melfort jury. All three cases will be tested at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in 2005.
Beverly Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, says this is an important case for native women, and the association wants to show their support for the girl.
Jacobs says she was offended at how the victim was treated by the court system.
"A lot of our aboriginal women across the country are having to be victims in these circumstances and being the ones to blame because of whatever the circumstances are," says Jacobs.
The group's role as an intervener in the appeal will be limited. It can file written arguments, but it will not be able to present them verbally.
The association will be allowed to have a lawyer in the court to answer questions.
Canadian Press, July 31, 2004
REGINA, SK (CP) - The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has agreed to hear arguments in a case involving three white men accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old aboriginal girl.
Dean Edmondson was found guilty of sexual assault after a jury trial in May 2003.
His companions, Jeffrey Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown, were found not guilty by a different jury at their joint trial a month later.
Edmondson is appealing the conviction, while the Crown is appealing his conditional sentence and the acquittal of the other men.
The girl had testified she ran away from home after a fight with her mother on Sept. 30, 2001. She met the men outside a small town bar, accepted their offer of a ride in their vehicle and drank beer with them.
The girl, who cannot be identified, testified she did not want to have sex with the men and tried to pull her pants back up when Brown pulled them down.
Edmondson testified the sexual activity started when the girl jumped into his lap and began kissing him. Edmondson said all of them were drunk when they pulled over on a road near Tisdale and took turns trying to have sex with her.
The defence in the case of Kindrat and Brown argued the girl had told the men she was 14 years old, which is the age of consent.
Lawyers on both sides agreed the girl's reluctance to testify against the pair was the turning point in the case. In Edmondson's trial, she gave much more detail.
The case stirred strong feelings in the community. Some of the girl's supporters from the Yellow Quill First Nation suggested the white accused were getting preferential treatment.
Relatives of the girl wept after Kindrat and Brown were acquitted and accused the justice system of racism.
"If you've got the dollars and the lawyers, you can go rape our children, come to court, and the white jury will say there was consent," said one relative.
The appeal arguments are expected to be heard in October but dates have not been set.