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'I crumbled': Woman speaks out after sex assault case thrown out due to delays at Toronto courthouse


Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to the reader and contains mention of suicidal ideation.

In hindsight, Emily recalled doing everything she’d been taught to do in the wake of an attack – she reported it to the police, took herself to the hospital, gave an interview to a detective, and, months later, testified in court.

“But it didn’t matter,” the former Toronto resident, whose surname CTV News Toronto has omitted, said in an interview from her home in Fergus, Ont. last week.

On Nov. 7, a sexual assault charge laid by Toronto police against the man Emily reported raped her in January 2022 was stayed and the case against him thrown out, court documents show.

“I crumbled,” she said. “It took so much to even do that first step of giving my statement to the police and [going to] the hospital. Then, a year and a half later, I decided to go back to Toronto to do this trial, face this man, and tell my story."

“Now it’s just over.”


MORE: Cases collapse at Toronto's newest courthouse amid 'staggering' number of closures, staff shortages

Emily’s experience is no anomaly. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, anyone charged with an offence has the right to a trial within a reasonable time frame. Barring exceptional circumstances, that timeframe is 18 months in the provincial courts of Ontario.

Staffing issues at Toronto’s newest Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) facility, however, have caused delays and courtroom closures that, in some instances, have seen cases thrown out.The courthouse, located at 10 Armory St., opened in February, taking over proceedings from six OCJ facilities in Toronto, North York, and Scarborough – a move that the union representing many of the public court employees warned would cause hardships for both staff and those within the system.

In an example from September, a case against a man charged with the sexual assault of a minor was tossed.

It was these delays that Judge Brock Jones cited in his decision, released Nov. 7.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General, which oversees Ontario's judicial system, called court closures "unacceptable."

In an effort to address staff shortages, the government said it has offered full-time jobs to existing on-call staff and is recruiting new, permanent, full-time staff using funding provided by the Criminal Court Backlog Strategy, introduced in 2021.

"We will continue to recruit and onboard new staff to support this courthouse, and to ensure victims have access to justice and that offenders are held accountable," the statement reads.


In late January 2022, Emily invited a friend and an acquaintance from her workplace to her Toronto apartment, she recounted.

“I didn't really know him [the acquaintance] that well,” she said.

The three stayed in, opting to have drinks at Emily’s apartment rather than going out, she said.

It was about 2 a.m. when she decided to go to bed, the two guests still in her home.

About four hours later, Emily said she woke up to the man raping her.

“I was in freeze mode,” Emily recounted. “He was on top of me. I didn’t know what to do."

“To be honest, at first, I was suicidal. This had happened in my own home. I didn’t feel safe anymore,” she continued.

After giving a brief initial statement to first responders, Emily attended Women’s College Hospital to be examined.

It was only hours later, when she'd returned to her apartment, that the magnitude of the situation hit her, she said.

“I was lying in my bed. It felt like I had regressed to a little girl, just bawling. I couldn't stop puking. I couldn't make eye contact. I was just so helpless,” she said.

In the following days, Emily gave a full statement to a detective with the Toronto Police Service’s Sex Crimes Unit, an interaction that led to the man she’d reported as her rapist being charged with one count of sexual assault in February 2022, documents show.


The trial was scheduled to begin on July 5, 2023. A lack of staff and in turn, available courtrooms saw the matter delayed until July 7, however.

When the matter did commence, it was the first time in nearly a-year-and-a-half that Emily was to face the man she’d alleged raped her.

“I could see him, out of the corner of my eye, staring at me,” she recalled. “It was really hard.”

Despite her nerves, Emily made the decision to testify and submit to cross-examination by prosecutors.

“The defence really tried to shake me,” she said.

After less than a day of proceedings, the matter was once again adjourned – this time, to Nov. 7.

Emily would never return to the courtroom for the matter. Instead, she received notice from the Crown last week that the charge had been stayed, and the case thrown out. The court confirmed the stay of charges with CTV News Toronto on Tuesday, the day the trial was set to begin.

The news had been delivered to Emily via video call five days earlier, she explained. The delays in the case had surpassed 18 months, and the man’s right to a trial in a reasonable timeframe had been infringed upon, a motion put forth by the defence argued.

In the call, Emily said a Crown attorney told her that they believed she was sexually assaulted, but that the charge had been stayed, and that they suggested she move on with her life and try to put the event behind her.

“What about my rights? Why are the rights of this man held with more importance?” she asked.


In his decision, released on Nov. 7, OCJ Judge Brock Jones said “this case should serve as a chilling reminder that this inexcusable state of affairs must never be allowed to happen again.”

“The emotional trauma associated with never knowing the outcome of a case on the merits will often be long-lasting and severe for both victims and accused persons,” Jones wrote.

The judge identified the staffing shortages as the reason for the delays in the trial.

“There is no reason this case could not have been completed [..] had the courts been properly staffed,” Jones wrote. “Instead, two full days of court time were lost and [the case] adjourned.”

Toronto lawyer Michael Wilchesky specializes in civil sexual abuse cases, and oftentimes, his clients have exhausted their options in criminal court before turning to the civil system.

“People will contact us and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can and now the charges have been stayed,’” Wilchesky told CTV News Toronto.

This can have an impact on a complainant’s, or former complainant’s, psyche, Wilchesky explained.

“They’ve finally come forward, they report it to police and then they have to wait many, many months to go to trial and then this happens,” he said.

“They’re often distraught or they can’t believe it.”

In Emily’s case, this happened despite months of warning signs, wrote Jones.

“What happened in this case was entirely predictable, and avoidable. Yet it was allowed to occur, despite all the warning signs that had been on display for months.”

According to Jones, the case serves ”as yet one more example of how the government’s failure to ensure this courthouse could function at full capacity [has] produced tragic results.”

When charges are stayed, both parties in the case are failed by the system, the judge argues.

“That will now never occur. That alone is regrettable,” Jones wrote, adding that the people of Ontario "deserve a justice system they can be proud of."

Trust in the system is long gone, Emily said.

"I've lost faith in our province's ability to keep me, us, safe." 


If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.

  • Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)
  • Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
  • Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. Top Stories

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