Balcony Rapist's Jane Doe refuses to be victimized
Published Friday, February 23, 2007 10:15AM EST
As Toronto's infamous "Balcony Rapist" gets ready to start life outside prison Friday, one of his victims is speaking out about her experience and warning people about Paul Callow.
Callow served a full 20-year sentence for a string of violent sexual assaults that created a summer of fear for a Toronto neighbourhood.
During the summer of 1986, Callow stalked women. He climbed to their second or third storey balconies, entered through broken windows or doors and sexually assaulted them.
Upon release, the 52-year-old is expected to live in the Vancouver, B.C. area and has agreed to a stringent peace bond that prevents him from returning to Ontario.
Callow's release marks an opportunity for his fifth victim to speak out.
"Of course I'm conflicted about that, I have apprehension. I think that incredibly stringent restrictions have been put on him through the peace bond," the woman known only as Jane Doe told CTV's Canada AM by telephone on Friday.
Police and officials say Callow will be a risk to the public after release. But Doe is not focusing on that point. She said the situation highlights a bigger issue.
"I think that the issue, rather than focusing and isolating one very dangerous man who does need to be watched ... is our failure to pay attention to the fact that rapes are committed every 17 minutes in this country."
She called rape an "epidemic" crime that is "out of control" with no attention being paid to it by society.
Doe won a landmark case against the Toronto Police Service for not warning women about the attacks when they were occurring. In 1998, a court ruled that investigators were negligent and awarded her $220,000 in general and special damages.
As police were searching for Callow, Doe and others began putting up posters in her downtown neighbourhood warning about a rapist. Police threatened to charge her with mischief.
Doe believes that a "rape mythology" was operating 20 years ago that said if women were warned, they would become "hysterical." Doe asserts that the same beliefs are at work today.
"And that is where we need to be placing our focus; the men who rape are the men who we know," Doe said in reference to the fact that Callow lived a block away with his wife and child.
She wants to know why society does not study the issues surrounding rape.
"Why do we fail to look at these issues? Why do we fail to devote resources for services for women and for research to look into the subject?"
Admitting she was victimized by Callow as he held a knife to her throat and committed the assault, Doe refuses to be labelled a victim.
"I think the very language we engage in and the way we stereotype women who experience sexual assault only as victims. I think that's a large part of the problem."
"Every time we use that kind of language, we return that woman to that place. We require her to be a passive agent who has no voice and has little strategy or politics about what happened to her and what needs to be done to affect any change."