Monday, December 14, 1998

Kim Pittaway

p. C2.

Who is Jane Doe?

Chatelaine, January 1999

Reviewed by Deirdre Kelly

Congratulating Chatelaine's Woman of the Year won't be easy. Her name is Jane Doe, a pseudonym meant to protect the identity of the Toronto woman who was raped in 1986. Her ordeal began when police refused to warn the public about a serial rapist at work, nicknamed the balcony rapist because he targeted women living in balconied low-rises in the downtown neighbourhood around Church and Wellesley Streets. They had feared that such a warning would tip off the rapist that they were on to him.

He had raped four other women before he turned on Jane Doe, but this one refused to be just another victim. He had blindfolded her, but she memorized his voice. When police eventually pulled in their suspect, she was able to make a positive vocal identification. Paul Douglas Callow is now serving 20 years in prison for the five rapes.

But Doe soon turned her attention to the police, whom she felt had used her as bait to attract the predator. She launched a lawsuit against the force that was to consume her life for much of the next 11 years. She emerged victorious in July when Judge Jean MacFarland ordered police to pay her $220,000 in damages stemming from their failure "to protect these women and the plaintiff in particular."

For many, Doe is a heroine, because by taking a stand she has drawn attention to the sexist thinking that can prevent police from protecting women against violent crime. But the portrait that emerges in Kim Pittaway's excellent profile isn't exactly lovable. Pittaway's description of Doe as "complicated" is an understatement. She observes a woman who is highly opinionated, often pushy, an irrepressible force of nature who is also a bundle of contradictions. Ultimately, Pittaway writes that her subject both challenged and irritated her. So despite the generic name, Jane Doe is unique. An idealist. A pain in the ass. A woman who made a difference.

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

Created: February 14, 1999
Last modified: February 14, 1999

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