Balcony Rapist to be released
Why men rape and why women's resources are cut need attention, argues '80s victimToronto Star, Feb 23, 2007
Jane Doe has mixed feelings about the release from prison of the man who raped her more than 20 years ago, saying that focusing on one "isolated" case gives everyone "permission to forget about the larger problem."
"A woman is raped every 17 minutes in this country and the crimes are committed by men that we know and are tied to ... husbands, men we work with ... and we pay absolutely no attention to that," said the woman, dubbed Jane Doe, who was sexually assaulted in 1986 by a man known as the "balcony rapist."
Paul Douglas Callow, now 52, is scheduled to be released from a prison in British Columbia today after serving 20 years in jail for brutal sexual assaults on several women, including Jane Doe.
He was called the "balcony rapist" because of the way he entered residences in Toronto's Wellesley and Sherbourne Sts. area during the mid-1980s. He raped five women at knifepoint and had been convicted of sexually attacking two other women in the 1970s.
While RCMP in B.C. said Callow will reside in Surrey, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant yesterday vowed never to let him set foot in this province again.
"We'll do everything we can to protect Ontarians from him causing any further harm," he said, adding he has no information that Callow has any intention of heading this way.
Bryant says he's satisfied Callow has consented to a recognizance order with "quite stringent conditions" that prevents him from legally leaving B.C. unless he goes to court first. The order also singles out Ontario – the province would be notified should Callow ever decide to come here, allowing the province to go to court to fight it.
It's rare for a court to issue an order preventing someone from entering a province without court approval, something Bryant called a very "strict provision."
"This is put into place for that rare individual who has completed their sentence but poses a danger to the law of the land that requires the extraordinary measure of constant monitoring and restriction upon his liberty," Bryant said. The Charter does not allow the Crown to seek a dangerous offender application if the offences were committed before the legislation was proclaimed.
Jane Doe launched a lawsuit in 1987 against Toronto police, arguing that investigators were negligent for not making the public aware of the rapist.
More than a decade later a judge awarded her $220,000 in general and special damages. Justice Jean MacFarland ruled that Doe and other women were used without their knowledge or consent to attract a predator.
After Doe's assault, women wanted to put up posters warning neighbours of the rapist, but police wouldn't allow them to, fearing it would compromise a stakeout.
Doe, a writer and teacher, doesn't disagree that Callow is a "very bad man who does need to be watched."
She'd just prefer it if more emphasis was placed on the bigger picture.
"All I can say is `you got it wrong, you've got to redirect your gaze – what we need to be looking at is why do men rape, why have services to women's community organizations been cut and why has that money been funnelled to so-called victim rights' groups who represent the law and order agenda that calls for bigger prisons and longer sentences when we know for a fact that they're not a deterrent," Doe said.
"What would make me feel safer and what would guarantee public safety is if there were the resources for the women who experience sexual assault, if there were resources for men who leave prison after they've done time – that's how we engage public safety."
She doesn't buy the contention that her advocacy work on rape and sexual assault has improved things.
"Nothing has changed," she said, pointing to government statistics showing the vast majority of sexual perpetrators are never punished.
Sexual offences accounted for 1 per cent of the 2.4 million Criminal Code incidents reported by police in 2002, a proportion that has not changed for the last decade, according to Statistics Canada.
But the agency notes that police statistics represent only a small portion of all sexual offences and offenders. Victimization surveys suggest that as many as 90 per cent of all sexual offences are not reported to the police. Once reported, sexual offences are also less likely than other violent offences to result in charges.