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Chief wants public inquiry, tough sentence for judge who abused young girls

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    ... From: Russell Diabo To: Undisclosed-Recipient:; Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 9:55 PM Subject: Chief wants public inquiry, tough sentence for judge who abused
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2004
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Russell Diabo
      To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
      Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 9:55 PM
      Subject: Chief wants public inquiry, tough sentence for judge who abused young girls

      May 31, 2004

      Chief wants public inquiry, tough sentence for judge who abused young girls


      VICTORIA (CP) - His victims thought he was a dirty old man from Prince George who paid money to rough up and have sex with aboriginal girls as young as 12.

      Imagine their horror when they found out he was a provincial court judge with the power to throw them in jail, says a tribal chief in the northern British Columbia city. David Ramsay will be sentenced Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George for sex crimes.

      "I don't think some of the victims knew who they were dealing with, who that guy was, until they appeared in front of him in court," said Harry Pierre, a Prince George tribal chief.

      "They finally found out he was a judge and I think they went to the authorities."

      Hundreds of aboriginals from across British Columbia are expected to rally outside of the courthouse where the judge once delivered sentences and will now receive one.

      Ramsay pleaded guilty earlier this month to sexual assault causing bodily harm, three counts of obtaining the sexual services of someone under 18, and breach of trust in his position as a provincial court judge.

      He admitted to picking up underage, mostly aboriginal, prostitutes and sexually attacking one of them between 1992 and 2001.

      The charges resulted after a three-year RCMP probe and the willingness of four of Ramsay's young victims to testify.

      B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant said his ministry may review Ramsay's past rulings following the sentencing to determine if any are questionable.

      But he said it was too early to comment on aboriginal calls for a public inquiry into the Ramsay matter and a wider public probe of justice issues with regards to aboriginals.

      "I have said there will have to be a review of at least the files that judge Ramsay looked at," said Plant. "That's about all I can say until we know what the court decides with respect to the appropriate sentence in this very very difficult case."

      RCMP investigators said Ramsay dealt with three of the girls in his courtroom before and after his encounters with them.

      Court heard Ramsay drove the girls to a wooded area near the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre, and paid them $60 to $80 for oral sex or $150 for sex without a condom or for rough sex.

      The allegations against the former judge were detailed in a statement of facts agreed to by both sides and referred to in court.

      In one case, Ramsay picked up a 16-year-old girl and agreed to pay her $150, but flew into a rage when the girl still reached for a condom despite the higher price.

      The girl's head was smashed against the dashboard. She fled, but court heard the judge caught her, pinned her to the ground and had sex with her, calling her a whore.

      He told a 15-year-old girl he would have her killed if she told on him, court heard.

      Police began their probe after receiving a complaint in August 1999, but the investigation didn't come to a head until May 2002 when one teenager, angry that Ramsay was hearing her son's custody case, levelled accusations at him.

      The teen left the courthouse screaming that a sexual deviant shouldn't be in a position to decide the fate of her son.

      "I imagine some other people knew about it, but I think it took some time for people to convince the police to act on it," said Pierre, the elected leader of the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council.

      "I am at a loss of words to express how courageous these young women are to come forward and pursue charges against Ramsay," said Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in a prepared statement.

      Phillip said the former judge deserves a harsh sentence.

      The police said it took time to gain the trust of the victims and convince them to testify.

      There had been rumours about Ramsay's behaviour prior to his arrest, but nobody was willing to come forward and make a claim, said a government official.

      Pierre said aboriginals have a long history of not trusting authorities to serve their interest and that may have contributed to delays in pursuing Ramsay.

      "First Nations have a hard time going to the authorities," he said. "Most times we're just put down or thrown in jail for complaining."

      Pierre cited incidents in Saskatchewan where aboriginal men were found frozen to death outside of city limits and the shooting of an aboriginal protester at a park at Ipperwash in Ontario as examples of lingering injustice to aboriginals.

      "Residential schools, it was the priests and on the (Robert) Pickton farm they killed a whole bunch of Indian women. . . and now a judge is molesting our girls. What next?"

      Pierre said he and most B.C. aboriginals want the court to hand Ramsay a stiff sentence, one that is 10 years or more. A sentence of five years will fuel aboriginal anger and contribute to a distrust of the judicial system, he said.

      "If he got 25 years and the victims compensated then that (would) get the judicial system back on its feet" among aboriginal people, said Pierre.

      A public inquiry into why it took so long for police to investigate and lay charges against Ramsay is also required, he said.

      A spokeswoman for the First Nations Summit, the largest aboriginal organization in British Columbia, said the summit supports calls for a wide-ranging inquiry into the administration of justice in B.C. with regards to aboriginal people.

      "We need to take the blinders off and address these underlying issues of systemic racism in the justice system," said Lydia Hwitsum.

      Ramsay is expected to apologize to each of the victims at his sentencing hearing, defence lawyer Leonard Doust said earlier.

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