Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Woman recalls rape in fight for police disclosure

TORONTO (CP) — A woman who sued police because they didn't warn her about a serial rapist wants women to know more about three men who have preyed on 11 women in Canada's largest city this summer.

The woman, known as Jane Doe, fought a 12-year legal battle over the handling of her own rape case. She was awarded $220,000 last year after a judge agreed police used her as bait to catch the "balcony rapist" who prowled Toronto in 1986.

Now, Doe is fighting to push police to give other women all of the information they need to protect themselves against men who rape.

"It is not efficient, preventative, helpful or mindful of the Jane Doe decision for them to continue to warn only if and when they see fit," Doe said Tuesday.

"The police must establish a protocol to guarantee that women receive adequate information so we can make informed decisions about how we live our lives."

In the dead of night this summer, a masked man has entered eight homes through unlocked doors and windows, making his way to the bedroom to sexually assault five victims, including one who was only nine.

Two other rapists have each attacked another three women. One man has taken public transit or waited near bus stops to follow victims home. A second has targeted prostitutes in the city's core.

The threat to their safety has had a chilling effect on some Toronto women.

Sue Collin, who shares a house with a young niece, has barred her windows with sticks to protect herself.

"It's really kind of scary," said the 35-year-old retail worker.

"We're putting sticks in our window so the windows won't open. We already have a bolt lock on the door, and we're making sure it's locked at night."

Police have released descriptions of all three rapists, although details about the bedroom rapist are so vague he could be almost any man in the city.

There is a police taskforce and a telephone hotline. Security tips and warnings are splashed across police Web sites and 65,000 poster warnings have been mailed.

But Doe's supporters, like former rape crisis worker Anne Marie Aikins, say those kinds of warnings put the onus on women to lock themselves away, rather than arm themselves with knowledge.

"Police aren't giving out new information like what does he look like, where does he strike, what does he do," Aikins said.

"That's the kind of information that I'd like to have to protect myself."

Police admit their description of the bedroom rapist is lacking. But Const. Devin Kealey says they've released everything they can -- that he's between five foot nine and six feet tall.

Talking publicly about how the men attack could jeopardize the investigation, Kealey said.

"It's all evidence. ... It could blow our case out of the water in court if we give all of the details out."

Doe says modern women already know enough to take standard precautions.

"We don't need hysterical warnings in the form of 'don't leave your doors open' and 'don't go out at night,' " she said. "We've got a plague, an epidemic that's endangering half the population and we're waiting for police to do something about it."

In Canada, one woman is raped every five minutes, according to the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres.

Statistics Canada reports that one out of every two women has been or will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

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

Created: August 24, 1999
Last modified: August 24, 1999

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