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Does proof matter anymore? – The shockingly fast fall of Patrick Brown

January 2018

I’ve frequently told people that in a court of law, the truth really doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is what you can prove.  The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is supposed to be paramount in our legal system (I purposely don’t call it a “justice system”).  Now it appears that proof doesn’t matter either; only an accusation is needed to destroy lives and careers.

On 24 January around 10pm came the bombshell news that Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown had been accused by two women of sexual misconduct.

Who conducted the investigation and were sworn statements obtained?  What sort of corroborating evidence is there against Brown?  Why did the victims come forward to the media first instead of the police?  Where’s the due process?

In the case of Jian Ghomeshi, it would appear from the evidence submitted at his court trial that he was every bit the cad he was portrayed and that his firing by the CBC was warranted, but when it came to PROOF beyond a reasonable doubt, there was nothing that rose to a criminal level.  That’s why he was acquitted, after being given due process and a chance to face his accusers.

Despite the salaciousness of the allegations, Brown deserves the same.  Even if the accusations are true, from what we know now it sounds more like a bad date or a misunderstanding than a criminal act. One of the victims even states that when Brown tried to have sex with her, she said no and he stopped.  She then asked to be driven home and she was, with no further accusations of “inappropriate behaviour.”

Every man, and maybe even some women, are now vulnerable.

I’m not in any way saying that the accusers are lying or that Brown’s conduct was beyond reproach, but the timing of these accusations is a little too convenient.  It was only last week that former Dalton McGuinty Chief of Staff David Livingston was convicted of attempted mischief to data and illegal use of a computer and Kathleen Wynne is polling at around 16% approval rating five months before the election.  Suddenly the news isn’t about these issues.

The only positive is that this information didn’t come out in the middle of the election campaign.  At least the Progressive Conservatives have time to re-group and pick a new leader.

Patrick Brown’s career is effectively over now, even though Barrie Police have confirmed that there has not been any complaint made against Brown and he is not currently under any investigation.

Has the #MeToo movement gone too far on this one?  Two women get to make these accusations anonymously to the media – not even to the police – and a man’s career is destroyed.  That’s not courageous.

While anonymous complaints allow victims to come forward who might not other wise feel comfortable making accusations, it also allows basically a free-for-all, where accusations are allowed to destroy lives without any consequences for the accuser.  Anyone who questions the accuser’s motives is usually shut down pretty quickly.  No one wants to be seen as “re-victimizing” or blaming the victim.

We have publication bans in legal cases that protect the identity of the accuser/victim, while still giving the accused the right to face their accuser in an open forum.

If Patrick Brown is guilty of misconduct, he deserves to have lost the leadership and whatever else he gets.  If these accusations turn out to be false, or at worst a consensual encounter that the victim later regretted, then his accuser(s) and any accomplices who put them up to it, need to be held to account.

It’s not victim blaming if the accusations are false.


About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/does-the-truth-matter-anymore-the-shockingly-fast-fall-of-patrick-brown/

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