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Aboriginal woman made to testify in shackles, forced to share a prison van with her rapist

By WITW Staff on June 7, 2017

A 28-year-old Cree woman who was brutally stabbed and raped while living on the streets of Edmonton, Canada, was held in jail in a cell nearly adjacent to that of her attacker’s, transported to court alongside him in the same prison van, and was forced to wear leg shackles while testifying in court. A year after giving testimony in the 2015 trial, which helped convict 59-year-old Lance David Blanchard of kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, the woman was tragically killed in an unrelated accidental shooting.

“The facts of this case are disturbing and tragic, and when you add in the treatment of the victim in the system, they are almost incomprehensible,” said Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley on Monday, in response to a CBC News report that detailed the horrific treatment suffered by the aboriginal Canadian. “It does keep me up at night wondering whether, if she had been Caucasian, and if she had been housed and not addicted — whether something might have been different.”

The woman, Angela Cardinal, whose identity had been kept anonymous until this week, said she had fallen asleep on a stairwell on June 16, 2015, when she awoke to Blanchard pulling her hair and holding a knife to the side of her face. Blanchard dragged her into his apartment, where he raped her and stabbed her through the hand to prevent her from turning the doorknob when she tried to escape.

“I was praying I would die before anything else happened,” Cardinal testified in court, according to CBC.

The woman ultimately managed to contact police by dialing 911, putting the phone on speaker, and hurling it across the room to prevent her attacker from cutting off the call. In audio of the call, Cardinal could be heard screaming that she had been stabbed — while her attacker yelled over her that she was lying and had broken into his house. The woman was taken to the emergency room, where doctors said she was “fluctuating between falling asleep and crying.”

During the trial, Cardinal showed “animosity to the accused and resented being in his presence” — especially after the presiding judge accidentally called her by her attacker’s name — according to Eric Macklin, a judge who retrospectively reviewed the hearings. The prosecutors then invoked a law that allows judges to imprison witnesses who refuse to testify, and held her in custody on the basis that she was a “flight risk” — despite her repeated promises that she would not withhold testimony.

Ganley has since apologized publicly to Cardinal’s mother, and established a committee to “recommend policies to ensure no one is ever treated like this again.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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