Courts read more

The cost of sexual assault

A survey of sex assault survivors in Canada found they spent $7-million on legal fees, therapy, medication and lost tuition.

Sexual assault survivors send $7 million invoice to Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne

A Toronto woman whose rape case has gained national attention plans to send a $7 million invoice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to drive home the cost of sexual assault.

Over the last week, Mandi Gray sent an online survey to 158 self-reported sexual assault survivors and found that together they spent an estimated $7 million in costs from legal fees, therapy, medication, and lost tuition.

The invoice will accompany the survey responses, with all identifying information removed.

Gray made the announcement Tuesday as the accused in her case, Mustafa Ururyar, appealed his conviction and 18-month jail sentence for sexual assault in Ontario Superior Court.

“Until the state provides adequate funding for victims to access legal services, victims of sexual assault will continue to pay emotionally, physically, socially and economically for actions they never consented to.”

When he was convicted, Judge Marvin Zuker ruled that Ururyar pay Gray $8,000 to cover a portion of her legal bills for a lawyer she hired to advocate for her in court — a cost she said in a statement was “inconsequential” compared to the personal costs she had already incurred. Gray said she hired a lawyer because it is the Crown’s role to make a case for the charges, not to advocate for or support the survivor.

“Until the state provides adequate funding for victims to access legal services, victims of sexual assault will continue to pay emotionally, physically, socially, and economically for actions they never consented to. These costs are further exacerbated for people who are racialized, Indigenous, queer, trans, two-spirited, live with a disability, are sex workers, and/or criminalized,” she said.

In her victim impact statement, Gray said she was seeking full compensation of the legal costs incurred as a result of her sexual assault. “Victims should not be required to pay (emotionally or financially) for the failure of the courts to respect the ethics and legal protections of [the] victim/witnesses.”

The Canadian Lawyers Association is an intervenor in the case and plans to argue that survivors of sexual assault should not order the convicted party to cover legal costs of hiring a lawyer because the complainant has resources provided by the state.

The survey also determined the “social cost” of sexual assault, including that 77 percent of respondents feared their reputation would be damaged if people found out about the assault. Another 61 percent said they feared retaliation if they reported.

47 percent said they did not see their friends because of the sexual assault, and 47 percent said they believed they were passed up for promotions of raises due to sexual assault.

M-F 7:30PM HBO