In response to the story of David Galen Anders sentence for sexual assault, there was an outcry from the community.
Commentor, Donna Alm, summed up what many were also saying on the Review’s Facebook page as well as others where the story was shared: “I’m glad he was found guilty, but think the sentence was too lenient”.
|Comments on the story that was shared on our Facebook page. (Screenshot)|
Stephanie Melnyk, the RCMP’s Victims’ Services Coordinator lent her voice to the conversation, as it is part of her job to help survivors make sense of the outcomes.
“A good sentence finds a way to prevent someone from re-offending (and protecting the public) while allowing them to learn why what they did was so wrong,” she said.
From her point of view, the trial is about whether the courts believe that the events unfolded as the victim claims, a finding of guilt is the proof of belief.
“The sentencing stage shifts from the victims and witnesses to the stabilization of the offender,” Melnyk said. “Everyone’s goal is to make sure an offender does not make the same mistakes again.”
Melnyk encouraged the community to continue discussing the complex issue that is sexual assault in order to find a healthy way to move forward.
“Having a sexual assault file go through the court system is always difficult for everyone involved,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve reached a place yet as a society where we can talk about rape without stigma, but I have hope we will get there.”
Melnyk said she is seeing more women reporting sexual assaults to the police and Crown Counsel in Salmon Arm approving more sexual assault charges.
“In general, I am seeing the courts believe the victims and witnesses which speaks to their strength and credibility when testifying,” she said.
In 2018 there were four reported sexual assaults, in 2017 there were two, in 2016 there were three and in 2015 there were two, according to Statistics’ Canada’s incident-based crime statistics.
Anders was found guilty of sexual assault earlier this year. His victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban was drunk and the judge determined she did not and was unable to consent. Anders sentence came down on Nov. 6.