Innocent until proven guilty. Although this is a basic right regarded in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is not something always respected online. Recent events including the #metoo movement have created worries of false accusations as well as an environment encouraging conviction before a trial. This assumed guilt based on an online accuser is what some believe to be very dangerous and life-changing.
“It can happen to you”, an Ottawa man has that message to send to the world. Jamie Nelson spent 1-thousand and forty-seven days in prison for a crime he did not commit. Nelson served time for 2 physical assault charges and 1 sexual assault charge, all made by the same woman. His accuser’s credibility was lost when defence lawyers discovered her to have accused 55 men of physical or sexual assault. Nelson served his full sentence of 3 and a half years before being exonerated 5 and a half years after being accused.
He held his 3-hundred and seventy-fifth speech on his wrongful conviction this past Tuesday at Western University. The message remains that “there has got to be more than just someone’s word” says Nelson. He says we must remember that in Canada you are innocent until proven guilty.
This position is apposed by Lisa Decoutere.
Decoutere was part of one of Canada’s most publicized sexual assault trials in Canadian History: the Jian Ghomeshi trial. This trial led Decoutere to believe that “being proven ‘not guilty’, does not make you innocent.” She continues by stating that she does not believe sexual assault cases are necessarily meant for judicial court and reminds people of her case that ended in a not guilty verdict for Gomeshi.
Both Nelson and Decoutere can agree that social media and the public opinion hold an extreme amount of pull in public cases. Nelson believes it’s “dangerous” how much it can effect someones life. Decoutere recounts the death threats she received due to the court case and it’s negative effect on her mental health.
Overall, the two agree that social media should not hold a standing in judicial court, and online accusations deserve processing, but should be taken at face value.