NEWS

Russell Williams Files Defence Against Victim's Lawsuit

06/14/2012 01:10 EDT | Updated 06/14/2012 03:49 EDT

Convicted murderer Russell Williams is defending himself against a $7.3-million lawsuit launched by one of his surviving sexual assault victims.

The suit involves Williams' former neighbour, Laurie Massicotte.

His filing of a defence means Massicotte now has to prove her claims of ongoing trauma and suicide attempts.

In her claim, Massicotte said an attack on her by the former Canadian Forces base commander has driven her to alcohol abuse, depression and a wide range of emotional and mental distress.

Williams admits in his court documents to breaking into her home and sexually assaulting her — but denies any knowledge of the long-term consequences of his attack.

The papers were filed last month in court in Belleville, Ont.

Serving life

Williams is serving a sentence of life in prison, already having admitted to a string of fetish raids and break-ins in Ottawa and Tweed, Ont., that escalated to late-night break-ins and sexual assaults on Massicotte and another woman who is being referred to in court proceedings as "Jane Doe."

He also admitted to sexually attacking and murdering Marie-France Comeau in November 2009 and Jessica Lloyd in January 2010.

Lloyd's family, Massicotte and Doe, whose real name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, and are all suing Williams and his ex-wife Elizabeth Harriman.

Negotiations underway

Doe and the Lloyd family have been negotiating quietly behind the scenes to settle their financial claims against Williams and his former wife.

However, Massicotte, who admits in her own lawsuit documents to being deeply troubled, has refused to participate in those negotiations.

She has gone through a string of legal representatives and currently doesn't have a lawyer representing her.

Her suit goes beyond claims against her attacker. She also seeks damages from the police and Crown, whom she alleges failed to alert her about a string of break-ins in her community before Williams attacked her.

Massicotte's suit on behalf of herself and her three children — and its varied claims against police — has been holding up Williams and Harriman in their ability to reach settlements with the other victims.

Sources familiar with the lawsuits tell CBC News it is largely because the former couple are unable to firmly assess their full liability for Williams' crimes.

Massicotte has told CBC News that lawyers for Elizabeth Harriman offered to settle her claim in exchange for $75,000 and a commitment that she would drop her claims against police.

Massicotte has refused, and tells CBC News that recently she has been working to compile a set of claims against the Crown and police alleging a large conspiracy in the murder investigation. However, she's offered no proof .

In an email Thursday, Massicotte told CBC News: "I'm at a huge loss right now."

She refused a request for an in-person interview to discuss Williams' statement of defence.

In the document, Williams also denies Massicotte's claim that just weeks after his arrest in February 2010, he fraudulently tried to transfer title of his marital property to his then-wife in a bid to shield her from civil liability for his crimes.

None of the allegations in Massicotte's lawsuit have been tested in court.

Send tips on this story to Dave Seglins.

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