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article imageCanadian woman sues Russell Williams, wife, and the OPP

By Arthur Weinreb     Sep 26, 2011 in Crime
Laurie Massicotte, who was sexually assaulted by former Canadian Colonel Russell Williams, launched a $7 million lawsuit against the three parties.
Last Friday, just prior to the expiration of the limitation period, Massicotte filed a Statement of Claim in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice. In September 2009, Williams broke into her Tweed Ontario home, tied her up and then sexually assaulted and photographed her.
Although victims of sexual assaults and alleged sexual assaults cannot be named, Massicotte received an order from a judge allowing her name to be pubished in the media.
Tweed Ontario is just north of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton where Williams served as base commander prior to his arrest in February 2010. Williams owned a home just three doors away from Massicotte's residence.
On October 10, 2010, Williams pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of Justice to two counts of first degree murder, two counts each of sexual assault and forcible confinement (Massicotte being the victim in one incident) and 82 counts of break and enter and attempted break and enter that have been described as fetish crimes. Williams is now serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
In an interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, Massicotte says she now suffers from anxiety and alcohol abuse. She says that when she managed to free herself enough to call 911, the police kept her half naked and tied up for hours. She overheard police describing her as "crazy" over the police radio. And a neighbour advised her that a police officer had said that she was faking the attack, merely copying a similar attack on another Tweed woman, 12 days before.
Massicotte's biggest complaint against the OPP is that the police never made public or even warned residents of Tweed that the previous attack had occurred. She could not have tried to copy the other attack because she was not aware of it until after Williams had been arrested and charged.
Her lawsuit against the disgraced former military commander should be a slam dunk. Williams pleaded guilty to and was convicted of what she said he did to her. And although Williams has been booted out of the military, stripped of his medals and all military property in his possession was burned, the career soldier still receives his military pension that is approximately $60, 000 a year. If awarded damages, she most likely could collect.
As far as Williams' wife, Mary-Elizabeth Harriman, is concerned, there have never been any allegations that she took part in or even knew about the horrendous crimes committed by her husband. But there are allegations that Williams, after his arrest, transferred some of his assets to his wife. If the court finds this was done in order to defeat creditors, Harriman could be liable for money damages arising out of Williams' crimes.
The most interesting aspect of the lawsuit is the allegation that the OPP were negligent in not informing, at least the residents of Tweed, of the previous attack. Had Massicotte known about it, she could been able to take the necessary steps to prevent herself from becoming Williams' next victim.
In 1998, an Ontario court awarded a woman, known only as Jane Doe, $220,000 in damages. Doe was sexually attacked in her Toronto apartment by Paul Callow who was later sentenced to 20 years in jail for sexual offences. Doe sued the Toronto police claiming that the police knew someone was attacking women in their homes in the area in which Doe lived. The judge accepted the fact that rather than warn women in the area, they used Doe and other women as "bait" in order to catch the predator. Massicotte's lawsuit will focus on whether police have a duty to warn people when a sexual predator has attacked someone close to their homes.
The fact that Williams sexually assaulted and forcibly confined Massicotte has been proven in court. None of Massicotte's other allegations have been proved.
More about Russell williams, lauri massicotte, Ontario provincial police, jane doe sexual assault, maryelizabeth harriman
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