Excuse me if I can't remain at a distance for this one, if I can't quite stay unbiased or "professional," or if I can't quite remain civil.
That's what happens when civility is betrayed, when we can allow a decision like the one by Judge Catherine Carlson yesterday to hand child rapist, pedophile, and sex offender Graham James an essential slap on the wrist (or a high five, depending on how you see it) with a two-year prison sentence.
James's defence attorney is named Even Roitenberg. For his part, Roitenberg actually mouthed these words:
"(Graham James) is, at his heart, not an indecent man by any stretch of the imagination."
Let me tell you something, Evan. We don't have to stretch our imaginations very far to know exactly who Graham James is. We've heard the charges. We know what he did, and we know that he did it repeatedly to multiple youths. But, we'll let you continue, because you're on the cross now and it doesn't sound like you deserve an interruption...
"Hopefully when he is released from custody he'll be able to live a life. I think that's all he wants. I think that's all anybody should want for him."
Graham James doesn't deserve a lot, or anything, besides a fitting punishment. And, of course, a fitting punishment is not what he got. And, it's hard to even imagine what a fitting punishment would be for a man like this and for crimes like this.
But a two-year sentence for one of Canada's most vile creatures is not only insulting to his victims, but it's scary, it's dangerous, and it's embarrassing for an entire nation -- one which James's victims are a part of.
A two-year sentence for a man as putrid as Graham James is as close as you can come to condoning the actions of other sexual predators in Canada who are living, working, and continuing to commit their heinous acts.
So, no, Evan. Graham James does not deserve a life, and he doesn't deserve to have anybody who wants anything for him. He doesn't deserve socks. He doesn't deserve to be alive, and I have no problem saying that.
And yet, why do I feel so wrong writing this? Why do I feel like I shouldn't even have a voice in this case?
After all, the only ones who deserve a voice are the ones who have been tortured by him, tormented by the memories of what he did to them, and had their lives ruined or severely altered by this man's inhuman mind, body, and hands.
The ones who deserve a voice are his victims.
And, after hearing that their predator received a two-year sentence after what has seemed like an eternity playing ring-around-the-rosy with a gutless justice system, it appears their voices have not been heard.
Because with this sentence, Judge Catherine Carlson has committed a heinous act herself. It's not like Carlson could simply be asked, "What more could you have done to stop it?"
Instead, the question is, "Why have you allowed this man to commit his crimes again? Why have you been lenient to a dragon? Why have you not handed him down the most severe punishment imaginable, or possible?"
It's not, "What could you have done to stop it?" it's "Why didn't you stop it?"
Catherine, you had a chance to serve justice, which I thought was the point of a Justice. And, you failed. You let us all down.
Because, at the end of the day, Graham James is evil. And, at the end of Tuesday, Judge Catherine Carlson essentially said, "That's worth two years."
And so, when we ask ourselves in two years why Graham James is suddenly free again, we can say with confidence, "Because of the hard work of Evan Roitenberg, and the foolish decision of Catherine Carlson."
(*This article was originally posted on White Cover Magazine.)
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