There are calls for an independent review into the Fenwick MacIntosh sex abuse case, a day after the Nova Scotia Justice Department released reports on how the Public Prosecution Service and RCMP handled the matter.
The provincial government issued a rare apology to MacIntosh’s alleged victims, saying hard lessons have been learned and actions will be taken so it doesn’t happen again.
But an advocate for abuse survivors says the case is a failure for all victims of sexual abuse.
“It’s a failure that affects every victim of sexual assault,” says lawyer John McKiggan, who has represented victims of sexual abuse in the past. “We tell survivors not to suffer in silence.”
McKiggan says abuse victims are often afraid to speak up and part of his job is to explain how the justice system can help them, and try to encourage them to come forward.
“When each of the victims in the Fenwick MacIntosh case did what we tell people to do, did what we asked people to do, and yet they’ve been rung through the ringer now for decades with no final accountability, it’s a very sad commentary.”
In 2010, MacIntosh was convicted of 17 sex charges against four boys in the 1970s.
But the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned the convictions, saying MacIntosh’s right to a speedy trial had been denied due to the 14-year lapse between the original allegations and the trial.
A report released Wednesday outlined a number of reasons for delays and recommendations for ensuring it doesn’t happen again.
But the Opposition is calling for an independent review of those involved.
“I know that there are issues they have raised that remain unanswered and I think by raising them publicly and having a forum for them to be raised publicly, it would put more pressure on both levels of government to answer the questions,” says Allan MacMaster, Progressive Conservative MLA for Inverness.
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry says the province can only look into the actions of provincial agencies and cannot call an inquiry into the actions of the federal government.
Landry believes the report released Wednesday give all Nova Scotians a better understanding of what happened but some politicians are still hoping for an inquiry.
“We’re hoping that the premier will call an inquiry here and if nothing else it will shame the federal government into participating,” says Michel Samson, Liberal MLA for Richmond.
As an advocate for abuse survivors, McKiggan wants to see a willingness to recognize there’s a problem and address it accordingly.
“Saying we are going to make these changes, saying we are going to do things differently, that’s the first step.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster