Thursday, September 22, 2005

Alberta Justice

We Canadians talk a lot about Texas Justice, which gives us the opportunity to feel superior to the Americans, but our own justice system is in pretty sad shape. Not only do we have wrongful convictions but oftentimes, guilty parties go free.

Holly Desimone knows all too well about the failings of the Alberta justice system. Back in 1990, when she was 29 years old, Holly went over to her friend's house one night for dinner. She met her friend's brother, Ali Rasai, a seemingly nice guy who was a newcomer to Canada. She thought nothing about inviting him back to her apartment since she had no idea that he had fled a rape charge in Australia. Rasai sexually assaulted Holly, who feared for her life.

It took her more than three months to report the rape due to the emotional trauma and fear of not being believed. When she finally came forth, she discovered that Rasai had been charged with sexually molesting two other women in Alberta -- one in Red Deer and one in Edmonton. After he was charged, he was granted bail and his victims were never notified.

Worse, Rossi skipped town. He left the country and it took years for him to be located. Holly launched a tireless campaign to find him, similar in many respects to Joyce Milgaard's one-woman "gumshoe" campaign for justice. She worked in tandem with Rasai's other rape victim from Red Deer, and made the painful decision to go public in order to find this man. Most rape victims are covered by rape shield laws and do not have to disclose their identity to the press but Holly decided to give up her anonymity.

She appeared on America's Most Wanted and has been written up in Reader's Digest. After struggling for years, finding dead ends and dealing with bureaucratic red tape that allowed Rasai to stay in countries like Norway, Holly finally found some measure of justice when Rasai was apprehended. Nearly six years after the rape, he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. Too little, too late, but at least he's behind bars now after having slipped out of police custody so easily here in Canada to live abroad.

You can read more about Holly's courageous story on my link entitled Holly's Fight for Justice. She has a large web site with extensive links and resources for crime victims. Check it out! Then come back here and post your comments.

Sigrid Mac
crossposted to D'Amour Road and my Milgaard Inquiry blog

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