The Need for a Specialized and Multi-Agency Prosecution Process for Sexual Assault Offences in Nova Scotia

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Women and children in Nova Scotia who are sexually assaulted, and who report the assault to the criminal justice system, encounter three interrelated problem areas within the current prosecution process. First, the fact that most if not all sexual assault victims are traumatized and suffer both long term and short term psychological, physical and social consequences is not adequately considered nor addressed. Second, Crown attorneys are randomly selected to prosecute sexual offences. This can and often does result in Crowns with little or no specialized training or expertise prosecuting a substantively, procedurally and emotionally difficult area of law. Third, decision making within the prosecution process is often made on the basis of stereotypes and myths regarding female and male sexuality, the nature, impact and social context of sexual assault, as well as sexual offenders. These problem areas create a situation whereby the criminal justice system is not a real option for victims of sexual assault. Within our communities there is an extremely high rate of occurrence of sexual assault and abuse, and a very large gap between the rate of occurrence and reporting sexual assaults to the criminal justice system. Victims are dissuaded from reporting their victimization to the criminal justice system. Insofar as this is true, victims of sexual assault and abuse, as well as the community at large, are denied protection and justice from our criminal justice system. In this thesis I will argue that the only remedy which can significantly redress the existing problems is the development of a specialized and multi-agency prosecution process for sexual offences in Nova Scotia: a prosecution process that involves a specialized Crown attorney and a multi-agency investigative team for each of the four Crown attorney Regions of Nova Scotia


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