The action by Magistrate Ann McLennan in a matter where a wife made false allegations of domestic abuse is one that we do not hear often, and Her Worship is to be commended for her approach to a very sensitive and topical issue. It is not known how many other such incidents remain undiscovered and husbands sentenced to prison terms because of false allegations of domestic abuse.
Yes, we would like to see abusers of every gender and station in life faced with the sanctions provided for by law, but it is reprehensible the lengths to which purported victims would go to jeopardise the freedom of someone whom she or he professed to love at one time.
A matter which is occupying the attention of an East Coast Court, but which will not be identified for obvious reasons, saw a husband being arrested and detained for three nights over a weekend because his wife alleged that he had assaulted her. He was placed before the court to answer those charges.
Prior to that incident, this man came home from work suddenly, and reportedly caught his wife in flagrante delicto and had forgiven her. Subsequently, this poor fellow who works like a mule to support his family had to make do without certain marital privileges because his wife always had a headache or belly pain. It must be said that in a matter of seven days, the other man was already ensconced in the home which also has minors.
The point of that anecdote is that that woman wanted to be free to do her own thing at any cost, including making a false allegation against her husband, aided and abetted by relatives.
Another significant aspect of this whole domestic violence scenario is the very laws that are enacted to protect victims of domestic abuse, are in turn abused by purported victims. It is all too easy to claim that threats were made or that some physical altercation took place, and all too difficult to disprove a domestic violence allegation, particularly when false.
It is impossible to have witnesses round-the-clock who can come to the assistance of those falsely accused of some form of domestic violence. Not so incidentally, allegations against a spouse of sexual abuse of a child by the other partner are definitely going to be dealt with as factual, regardless of the truth.
Domestic violence and false claims of this social malady are not the sole preserve of any particular race or class. A US District Court Judge is currently facing calls for his resignation stemming from a beating he inflicted upon his wife. A US Federal Court Judge ordered “highly educated, highly paid and highly functioning Lori Handrahan who holds a Ph.D from the London School of Economics, speaks English, French and Russian and is employed as a lecturer at American University to pay her former husband $450,000 and her daughter $300,000 as damages for making false allegations against her ex-husband”.
What these two examples highlight is the need for thorough police investigations, since the courts are relying on this to dispense justice fairly. It is accepted that because of the public pressure the police face amid all the murders and other violent acts which result from claims that assailants were released or not even arrested, charged and placed before the court, there might not be the level of effort expended to ensure that the magistrate has all the facts. And therefore innocent persons are more than likely incarcerated because of this omission. In other jurisdictions, false allegations of every type of abuse are made very often during bitter divorce proceedings.
However, the preceding view does not prevent people from informing themselves about how to avoid becoming the victim of this pernicious behavior. The first instance cited above clearly indicates the need for a more inclusive approach to the issue of domestic violence and the potential for false allegations which facilitate injustices and an abuse of the judicial system. This column is impressed with the diligence that some members of the magistracy apply in their dispensation of justice, and it can only redound to everyone, accuser and accused alike, if public awareness interventions can be designed to address this unwholesome phenomenon.
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