An Open Letter to Mr. Peter Juk - Head of British Columbia Prosecution Service

Mr. Peter Juk - Assistant Deputy Attorney General
BC Prosecution Service

June 19, 2019

Dear Mr. Juk, 

I am writing to you regarding a case that had some media attention recently, after Manjit Singh Virk—who was charged for sexually assaulting his four cousins (three of them are sisters) when they were young girls decades ago, and convicted on April 6, 2018 in Williams Lake court - had his convictions stayed by a Supreme Court judge in Prince George, using the Supreme Court of Canada Jordan decision.

Surely you are aware of the devastating statistics that only one in five (21%) cases of sexual assaults reported to police in Canada results with a trial, and that the numbers are even lower when it comes to “historic” sexual assault cases. Furthermore, only one in nine (11.5%) cases of sexual assaults reported to police in Canada results with a conviction.

Women victims of sexual assault in Canada do not trust the criminal justice system. When they do report to police, they put themselves through the hopeless, excruciating journey because they are determined to do whatever they can to protect other women and girls, and to hold sexist, violent men accountable.

This case is an “against all the odds” case. It reached a trial because of the resilience and the courage of the complainants on one hand, and the utterly dedicated investigators and crown prosecutor on the other.

While the perpetrator was not convicted of all the charges against him (the too often unattainable “beyond reasonable doubt” threshold), he was found guilty for his attacks against three out of his four victims. His conviction meant a great deal not just to those three individual women, but to the many women we work with on the front line, and to the thousands of women who watched the film Because We Are Girls across Canada over the past few months. It gave many women a glimpse of hope about sexual assault in the criminal justice system.

Alas, the recent BC Supreme Court decision to stay the conviction undoes this hope, and instead creates a chilling effect that will continue to discourage women victims of sexual assault to turn to the criminal justice system. It also reinforces the appalling message to men that they will get away with raping women and children.

We urge you to appeal the stay decision and to try and reverse the damage it has done, not just to the complainants in this case, but to any woman and girl in Canada who consider reporting to the police after being raped.

Sincerely,

Hilla Kerner
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

CC: Honourable David Eby – Attorney General of British Columbia