Content warning: this summary includes mentions of sexual assault in the ‘Facts’ section.
This case concerned the failure of police to warn the public about a serial rapist.
LEAF sponsored Jane Doe’s lawsuit against the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
Jane Doe was sexually assaulted after a man broke into her apartment from the balcony. She was the fifth person to be victimized by the man, who would become known as the “balcony rapist”. All five of the crimes had taken place in the same neighbourhood, and the police knew there was likely a serial rapist attacking women who were living alone in apartments with climbable balconies. The police chose, however, not to warn the public because they were worried the attacker would flee.
Jane Doe, with the support of LEAF, argued that the police had conducted a negligent investigation and failed to warn women of the risk of an attack. She also argued that the police had violated her right to security of the person under s. 7 of the Charter, and her equality rights under s. 15 of the Charter.
The judge found that the police “failed utterly” in their duty to protect Jane Doe and other women from the serial rapist. The judge also found that the police conduct in the investigation was informed by myths and stereotypes about sexual assault, women, and women who were sexually assaulted. As a result, the police breached Jane Doe’s right to security of the person and equality rights. The judge awarded Jane Doe $220,000 in damages.
LEAF is grateful to Mary Cornish, who represented Jane Doe for many years.
Read LEAF’s factum here.
Read the Ontario Court (General Division)’s decision here.
Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].