Tuesday, September 16, 1997

Phinjo Gombu

Rape victim warned not to go public

Police told her women would get hysterical, court hears

A woman assaulted by a serial rapist was told she could be charged with interfering in a police investigation if she went public with her story to warn other potential victims, a trial has heard.

The accusation came from a woman known only as Jane Doe as she took the stand yesterday at her $1.2 million negligence lawsuit against Metro police for failing to warn her about the serial rapist.

Doe said that just three days after her rape by the so-called "balcony rapist" she was interviewed at her home by Detective Bill Cameron of downtown's 52 Division in the presence of a friend. During that interview, Doe said, Cameron told her he had no doubt that "I'd been raped by a serial rapist, and that there were four other women they knew who had been raped, that there were similarities and it was cyclical."

The officer then went on to say that all the attacks occurred by entry through a second-or third-floor balcony and in the Church and Wellesley Sts. area where she lived, Doe said in reply to questions put by her lawyer Sean Dewart.

Doe said Cameron then said her attack had occurred a day earlier than police thought the rapist would strike. Shocked by the response, Doe said she asked Cameron why with so much information, police hadn't issued a warning about the serial rapist.

Doe testified that the officer replied it wasn't police practice. "That if they issued a warning, women would become hysterical" and the rapist would leave the area, she said in a quit voice. "I showed my disbelief, shock, several times," Doe said. "I said to Detective Cameron, if police were not going to issue a warning, I would issue a warning."

Asked about his response, Doe said: "He warned me I could be charged with interfering with the police investigation." This testimony came during an afternoon when Doe had to relive in court the events of early Aug. 24, 1986, when she was repeatedly raped in her apartment by Paul Douglas Callow. Callow, who pleaded guilty to her rape and those of four other women, is now serving a 20 year prison sentence.

In addition to negligence, Doe alleges that systemic gender-based discrimination against women contributed to the police decision not to warn women in the area about the rapist.

Doe described how after a day spent celebrating her niece's birthday she had gone home to her apartment. She had bought a slice of pizza and rented a video. The only other thing she did that night was to go to the corner store to buy some fruit. As was her habit she fell asleep with the lights on while reading a book, she said.

Doe said she then awoke after she felt someone shaken her. Because it was dark she couldn't really see who the man was but that he had a sheet over his head with two holes cut for his eyes. "A man had his hand to my mouth. He was in my bed and had a knife to my throat," she said. She said she was then told to close her eyes and he used a pillow case to cover her eyes and then repeatedly raped her for about at least an hour... "I kept saying don't hurt me," she said.

The butcher knife lay on the bed so that if she turned her face the blade touched her face, court heard.

The rapist even engaged in small talk about whether she had a boyfriend, who he was and how old she was, Doe said.

"Balcony Rapist" case... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: March 6, 1999
Last modified: March 8, 1999

J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710