Victim Privacy and the Open Court Principle

Victim Privacy and the
Open Court Principle
Jamie Cameron, Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
Policy Centre for Victims Issues
Research and Statistics Division
March 2003
The views expressed in this report are those of the
author and do not necessarily represent the views
of the Department of Justice Canada.
Victim Privacy and the
Open Court Principle

Executive Summary
This Report analyzes the tension between victim privacy and the open court principle,
and especially in the context of sexual assault proceedings. It explains that the open court
principle is one of the most highly prized values in t he Anglo-Canadian common law tradition.
Not only has the jurisprudence under the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms reinforced this value,
it has set more onerous requirements for exceptions to the open court principle to meet. The
Report provides an analysis of open court’s transition from common law to constitutional
Historically, the victims of crime have not played a central role in a trial process that is
conceptualized as a bipolar contest between the state and the accused. Even before the
of Rights and Freedoms
was adopted in 1982, however, the status of victims had begun to
improve. The law relating to sexual offences was one area in which reforms were most
forcefully sought, and most frequently secured as a result. Though statutory measures had taken
some steps in this direction, protecting the privacy of victims was not recognized, at common
law, as one of the permissible exceptions to open court’s twin elements of access and publicity.
Almost exclusively in the context of sexual assault proceedings, the status of crime
victims changed radically under the
Charter. Albeit in the context of conflict between the rights
of the accused and the complainant, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a right of victim
privacy under s.7 of the
Charter, and placed it on an equal plane with the defendant’s right of
full answer and defence. The Report views this as a critical development because of the
importance of linking the privacy concerns which arise at different times and for differe nt
reasons in sexual assault proceedings. The open court jurisprudence weighs the salutary benefits
of protecting victim privacy against the deleterious consequences of derogating from open court.
The invasion of privacy elsewhere in the process, and the steps that have been taken to address it,
may influence the judiciary’s perception of proportionality in contests between victim privacy
and open court.
The Report adds perspectives from other jurisdictions and provides a discussion of the
values which are at stake when victim privacy is set against open court. In doing so, it raises but
does not answer the question whether victim privacy, and the need for anonymity in particular, is
justified by the nature of the offence, or should instead be regarded as a remedial measure to
address the chronic under reporting of sexual offences and encourage victims to trust the system.
In essence, the question is whether these offences are different and should, from a privacy
perspective, always be treated differently. An alternative approach would treat sexual assault
victims differently, but only for the time being, and because the unfair treatment they have
suffered in the past has not yet been eliminated.

The author would like to thank Sean Sells for his research assistance on this project. Others who
contributed are Sabina Han, Kenn Lui, Angela McLeod, and Adrian Savin. The author also
thanks Lynne Fonseca for her assistance with the manuscript.

Executive Summary
Chapter One Introduction………………………………………………………………………………….1
Chapter Two The open court principle and
the Charter ………………………………………….7
Chapter Three Victim privacy, sexual assault and
the Charter ……………………………….. 24
Chapter Four Comparative, transnational and international perspectives …………………. 40
Chapter Five Perspectives ………………………………………………………………………………. 55
Chapter Six Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………….. 71
Chapter Seven Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………… 75
Endnotes …………………………………………………………………………………… 92

Chapter One
Privacy may be an ancient concept that is linked in fundamental ways to the dignity and
integrity of individuals, but it is a relative newcomer to the law just the same. Though aspects of
property and defamation law, as well as some rules of evidence, are related to it, privacy, until
recently, lacked status as an independent right or concept. At l east in the North American
tradition, the development of a legal entitlement began with a watershed article, written in 1890,
by Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis. Their perception of excesses by the American
press prompted Warren and Brandeis to dema nd that privacy be recognized and protected by the
law. In one of their more colourful passages the authors of “The Right to Privacy” described the
pathology of what they saw, as follows:
The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds o f propriety and of
decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious, but has become a
trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the
details of sexual relations are spread in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the
indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by
intrusion upon the domestic circle.
Warren and Brandeis argued that the “intensity and complexity of life” rendered “some retreat
from the world” necessary at the same time that “modern enterprise and invention” created new
ways and means of invading privacy. The result, they concluded, was that individuals could be
subjected to mental pain and distress “far greater than could be in flicted by mere bodily injury”.
The inventions Warren and Brandeis had in mind included typewriters, which were
introduced to newsrooms in 1876, telephones which dated to the early 1880s, and news
photography which arrived in 1897.
3 More than one hundred years later, privacy as a legal
concept has evolved in a number of directions, especially in the United States, where it is a
viable cause of action in the law of tort. Today, modern enterprise and invention have developed
sophisticated broadcast and electronic technologies which dramatically accelerate the
possibilities for the invasion of privacy. Not only that, the media promotes a culture of publicity
which thrives on the details of private lives, whether the object of attention is a celebrity, a
public figure, or an unlucky individual whose life has taken a turn which can be sensationalized
for profit. There can be no doubt that the victims of crime are among those who are unwillingly
thrown onto the public stage. While leaving larger questions about the privacy from unwanted
media attention to another time and place, this study focuses on the privacy of crime victims, and
of complainants in sexual assault proceedings, in particular.
“The history of criminal justice is almost synonymous with the decline of the victim’s
4 Historically, the common law treated the victims of crimes as witnesses, not as
parties to criminal proceedings. Though the victim initiated proceedings as the prosecutor in the

earliest days, the foundations of modern criminal justice were laid when the state undertook that
responsibility in the name of the victim and the community at large. From then on, the central
elements of the criminal trial, which was conceived as a contest between those accused of
offences and the state, began to evolve. Over time, substantive principles, rules of evidence, and
procedures which protected the defendant’s right to a fair trial would offset the considerable
powers, advantages and resources the state enjoyed in prosecuting those accused of crime.
How the frequently competing interests in law enforcement and due process should be
calibrated is an issue of ongoing adjustment and debate. Thus, it could be expected that those
accused of criminal offences would be key beneficiaries when constitutional rights arrived in
Canada, some twenty years ago. Today, the process of adjusting the balance between law
enforcement and fairness to the accused is channelled, for the most part, through the
Charter of
Rights and Freedoms
Meantime, the victims and witnesses who were participants in criminal trials were not
only visible to the public but were often the objects of sympathy as well. Still, as third parties,
they lacked status or standing in the system, in their own right. As LeSage A.C.J.O explained, in
The Queen v. Bernardo:
Historically, there was a period when all crimes were personal to the victim. Over
the years, the criminal law evolved toward a recognition that crimes are
transgressions of societal order and values. This evolution continued until we
reached a point where the state interest appeared to be total and the individual
victim was given little recognition. The
only recognized interest, at that point,
was the broader interest of the state.
The Crown could not secure convictions without the assistance of the victims and witnesses of
crime. Yet the interests of the victim and the Crown often diverged and, in any case, prosecutors
lacked the authority to promise victims that their interests, including privacy concer ns, would be
protected. Nor were the courts willing, or able, institutionally, to reform the criminal justice
system in ways that responded to the concerns of victims. For that to happen, legislative
intervention was necessary.
For many years now, victims’ rights groups have been active and effective participants in
the political and legal processes of government. As a result of their efforts, the status of crime
victims has changed in many ways. Victims’ charters have been enacted in, for example, t he
province of Ontario. The 1995
Victims’ Bill of Rights declares that “[t]he people of Ontario
believe that victims of crime, who have suffered harm and whose rights and security have been
violated by crime, should be treated with compassion and fairness .”
7 In addition, the Preamble
states that “[t]he people of Ontario further believe that the justice system should operate in a
manner that does not increase the suffering of victims of crime and that does not discourage
victims of crime from participating in the justice system.”
8 The Bill establishes principles, which
include a declaration that victims should have access to information on a variety of points about
the criminal justice system and the proceedings in which they are involved.
9 As well, s.2(1)1
announces that “[v]ictims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their

personal dignity and privacy by justice system officials.”10 Meanwhile, victim impact
statements are now admissible at sentence hearings
11 and steps have been taken to address
victims’ needs for compensation and restitution.
Following his statement above, regarding the traditional role of the victim, LeSage
A.C.J.O.C. observed, “[d]uring recent years, there has been a gradual shift, or evolution … to a
recognition of the concerns, interests and involvement of the individual who has suffered as a
result of crime.”
13 Describing this as a “healthy evolution”, he stated that “[v]ictims should have
a participation in the criminal law process that is greater than wa s recognized twenty or thirty
years ago.”
14 The proviso he added is that their participation and involvement “can never
interfere with or be seen to interfere with the accused’s right to a fair trial.”
15 That, of course, is
when the criminal justice system confronts conflicts between the rights of defendants and their
accusers. There, the question is whether the victims of crime can claim entitlements and rights
of participation in the criminal process, or will remain as third parties, whose recognition i n the
system is limited to the “soft”, or unenforceable, declarations set out in charters and bills of
Conflicts between the rights of the accused and their victims have been brought to the
forefront by women’s organizations, which have directed their energies over the years to the
problems of sexual assault and domestic violence. In Canada and elsewhere, organizations have
lobbied effectively for legislative reforms and have participated in high profile court cases. At
home, the law has been modified in important ways as a result. For example, the
’s offence of rape was repealed in 1982 and replaced by sexual assault, which is a broader
and more encompassing offence.
16 In addition, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized
battered wife syndrome as a valid aspect of self-defence in answer to a murder charge.
Moreover, through a combination of judge-made law and Criminal Code revisions, it is more
difficult now for the accused to claim that he mistakenly thought a complainant consent ed to a
sexual assault, when she in fact did not.
18 As well, and in response to a controversial decision by
the Supreme Court, Parliament has removed intoxication as an available defence to offences
which interfere with a person’s bodily integrity, including sexual assault.
Historically, sexual assault victims were treated poorly in criminal proceedings. For
instance, it was once commonplace for defence counsel to question a complainant about her
previous sexual history, not only with the accused, but with other partners too.
20 It was
presumed that this evidence was relevant to the question of consent: a complainant with a history
of sexual activity was deemed more likely to have consented or, alternatively, to have led the
accused to believe, mistakenly, that she had given permission. Debate about the permissibility of
this line of inquiry, as well as on access to other sources of information about the complainant,
initially centred less on a right of victim privacy than on the question whether the evid ence was
relevant to the defence. While counsel for the accused maintained that such evidence was
relevant to the credibility of the complainant and her story, others challenged that view on the
ground that information, which was extraneous to the offence itself, was irrelevant. Moreover,
they argued that assumptions about the relevance of such evidence were based on stereotypical
views about who gets raped, by whom, for what reason, and in what circumstances.

Through its constitutionalization of the presumption of innocence and other elements of
procedural fairness, the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed defence access to evidence
which advanced the accused’s right of full answer and defence. In the circumstances, conflicts
between the criminal defendant’s new found constitutional rights and the countervailing
demands that sexual assault complainants be treated fairly were inevitable. The victims of sexual
offences reacted by asserting their own constitutional entitlements in the criminal process. As a
result, the focus gradually shifted away from the question whether private information was
relevant, and turned toward the establishment of privacy and equality rights for the victims of
sexual offences. In due course, the Supreme Court of Canada and
Criminal Code set evidentiary
boundaries around the defendant’s access to personal information about the complainant.
The recognition of victims’ rights generally, and the establishment of privacy and
equality rights for sexual assault complainants are not unrelated to the more specific purpose of
this study, which is to consider the relationship between victim privacy and the open court
principle. Despite the common law’s reluctance to recognize privacy as a permissible exception
to the presumptions of access and publicity, the Supreme Court of Canada has explicitly weighed
victim privacy in balancing the interests for and against open court. Thus, in
C.B.C. v. New
Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)
, the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to close a courtroom
during part of a sentence hearing for a sexual offence the defendant had committed against two
young women.
22 La Forest J. acknowledged that “[w]hile the social interest in protecting privacy
is long standing, its importance has only recently been recognized by Canadian courts.”
23 He
noted that privacy “does not appear to have been a significant factor in the earlier cases which
established the strong presumption in favour of open courts.”
24 Though that approach had
generally continued and may be inh erent to the nature of a criminal trial, he stated that the right
of privacy “is beginning to be seen as more significant.”
25 Ultimately, the Court concluded that
the public can be excluded from the court room, as a way of controlling publicity to protect the
innocent and safeguard privacy interests.
In C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) and other decisions, privacy has received new and increased
recognition in relation to the open court principle. At the same time, the Supreme Court of
Canada has given that principle strong endorsement. In a series of decisions, the Court has made
it clear that access to the courts and their proceedings enables public criticism of the justice
system and encourages public participation in one of Canada’s democratic institutions .
Excluding the public from court proceedings or banning the publication of information about the
trial process undercuts one of the “core” values that is protected by s.2(b) of the
guarantee of expressive freedom.
The presumption in favour of open court is strong but not absolute, and exceptions are
permissible. The rationale, which traditionally was most frequently invoked to support a
publication ban, was the accused’s right to a fair trial. Proceedings could also be closed, in some
instances, to protect the proper administration of justice. Under the
Charter, the Supreme Court
of Canada has articulated doctrines which place significant restrictions on derogations from the
open court principle. In other words, exceptions remain available, but must satisfy the Court’s
multi-criteria standards of justifiability. Even so, the open court
Charter doctrines are flexible
enough to accommodate exceptions which are necessary, in particular circumstances, to protect
fair trial, privacy, or other compelling interests.
With a doctrinal framework for open court in place, it remains somewhat unclear how it
will be applied as the jurisprudence evolves. Whether the Supreme Court enforces a
presumption in favour of access and publicity, or is generous in its interpretation of exceptions
will vary on a case-to-case basis. It is difficult to predict the direction conflicts between open
court and victim privacy will take under a methodology that is so contextual in nature. In that
regard it should be noted, however, that the Supreme Court’s recognition of a right of victim
privacy under s.7 of the
Charter is certain to affect its appreciation of the balance between
privacy and open court under s.2(b).
With these introductory remarks as background, the plan for the study can now be
outlined. Chapter Two introduces the constitutionalized concept of open court and traces its
evolution in four of the Supreme Court of Canada’s important decisions on these issues:
Canadian Newspapers Co. v. Canada (A.G.)28; Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (A.G.)29; Dagenais
v. C.B.C.
30; and C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)31. Two of the four raise privacy
questions, and two others pose open court issues in the context of sexual assault proceedings.
Next is Chapter Three, and though it does not address the open court principle, it is a vital part of
this study. The objective of that Chapter is to link the invasion of privacy that sexual assault
victims experience,
throughout the process, from the initial complaint to the final appeal, and to
demonstrate how privacy concerns which are pervasive in sexual prosecutions key back to the
open court principle. Chapter Three explains how a right of victim privacy emerged in the court
of three Supreme Court of Canada decisions of the 1990s; they are
R. v. Seaboyer32; R. v.
33; and R. v. Mills34.
Chapter Four ranges beyond Canada’s borders to see how victim privacy is treated in
other jurisdictions. Limited information was available on civilian and other non-common law
systems. As well, the Commonwealth countries, which lack a constitutional framework for
conflicts between these competing interests, contributed little in the way of new insight. More
provocative in this Chapter, then, is the analysis of victim privacy and the First Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. If the American
jurisprudence fails to supply answers, it at least does not shy from asking the difficult questions.
Simply enough, Chapter Five is titled “Perspectives.” Its purpose is to step away from an
emphasis on statutory provisions and case law, and to try and flush out what is at stake in pitting
open court against victim privacy. While it does not claim to provide answers, the discuss ion
identifies the rationales which are strongly advanced on each side of the ledger. It also attempts
to articulate the difficult choices which lie ahead in deciding which of two cherished values
should be preferred, both generally and in particular circumstances. In doing so, it draws on a
substantial secondary literature to discuss the merits of victim anonymity, as well as the
arguments in favour of identifying the victims of crime. That analysis is followed by a comment
on the Homolka-Bernardo proceedings and the conflicting values those proceedings generated.

Chapter Six is relatively brief. At the conclusion of a lengthy Report, its purpose is to
summarize and highlight the key elements of the study. Thus it crystallizes the findings and
conclusions reached, as well as points up unanswered questions and issues for the future. It is
followed by Chapter Seven, which provides a Bibliography of constitutional, statutory and case
law materials, as well as a list of the secondary literature that was consulted in the preparation of
this Report.

Chapter Two
The open court principle and the Charter
Open court is a venerated ideal of justice in common law systems, and a principle that is
regarded as indispensable. Generally, the principle requires that court proceedings be open to the
public, and that publicity as to those proceedings be uninhibited. No less than the legitimacy of
criminal justices depends on it; the fairness of criminal process and public confidence in the
system are at stake. Of signal importance as well, a free flow of information encourages
feedback and debate among members of the public, thereby promoting the accountability of
institutions which exercise coercive powers against individuals.
Yet the rule is one matter and its exceptions, another. Despite the rhetoric, the common
law’s commitment to open court has yielded a variety of exceptions from the rule. As
fundamental as its underlying values are, securing the fair trial of the accused at times requires a
ban on the publication of information which could prejudice his right to be presumed innocent.
In Canada, many such exceptions are found in the
Criminal Code, which was enacted for the first
time in 1892.
1 For instance, publication bans today prevent the disclosure of information
revealed in pre-trial proceedings, such as bail hearings
2 and preliminary inquiries.3 Such
information can impair fair trial rights by revealing evidence that is inadmissible or by
undermining the presumption that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. In default of a
Code provision, the judge can order a publication ban at trial, as an aspect of his or her common
law jurisdiction to prevent bias against the accused.
4 Bans safeguard the integrity of the process
in other ways as well; for example, the identity of a juror or jurors is protected,
5 as is the
confidentiality of jury proceedings.
In s.794, the 1892 Code endorsed the common law principle that every court “shall be an
open public court”, and added, in s.848, that the hearing “shall be deemed an open and public
court, to which the public may generally have access so far as the same [room] can conveniently
contain them”.
7 Even so, the Code has, since its earliest days, authorized judges to exclude the
public from the courtroom in specified circumstances.
8 Up until 1953’s revision, the Code
preserved the judge’s common law power to exclude the public in any case where such exclusion
was deemed “necessary or expedient”.
9 That year saw the introduction of s.428, which is
substantially the same as the present s.486(1), the latter which reads as follows:
Exclusion of public in certain cases – Any proceedings against an
accused shall be held in open court, but where the presiding judge,
provincial court judge or justice, as the case may be, is of the opinion that
it is in the interest of public morals, the maintenance of order or the proper
administration of justice to exclude all or any members of the public from
the courtroom for all or part of the proceedings, he may do so.
This provision codifies the general rule and then sets out the grounds on which the public can be
excluded by way of exception.
Today, the Code encompasses hundreds of provisions which prescribe the substantive
and procedural details of Canada’s criminal law. Though it is the primary source, the
Code is
not the only source of criminal law, and is supplemented in its coverage by drug and firearms
legislation, as well as by the former
Young Offenders Act, and now the Youth Criminal Justice
.12 Further exceptions to the principle of openness are found in these and other statutes. Yet
Criminal Code and criminal law legislation do not completely oust the common law. To the
extent statute law is silent, the judiciary retains a discretion at common law to consider and
determine limits on the open court principle.
Exceptions to the principle of open court are prima facie vulnerable under the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms
14. Given that such exceptions from principle had been acce pted in the past,
it was difficult to predict what difference the
Charter would make. From one perspective, the
status quo represented a fair balance between the rule and its exceptions. From another, it
appeared that the
Charter had re-calibrated that balance in favour of expressive freedom, and had
the potential, therefore, to defeat existing limits on openness. In this regard it should also be
noted that Canada’s system of constitutional rights permits exceptions or limits which are
considered “reasonable” from the perspective of a “free and democratic society”.
Today, more than twenty years later, the Supreme Court of Canada has had the
opportunity to consider whether and in what ways the open court principle has been altered by
Charter. This Chapter highlights four of the Court’s decisions on this issue: Canadian
Newspapers Co. v. Canada (A.G.)
;16 Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (A.G.);17 Dagenais v.
Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
;18 and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. New Brunswick (A.G.)
(Re: R. v. Carson)
.19 While three affect privacy concerns, a fourth – which is Dagenais
discusses the accused’s right to a fair trial; meanwhile, three of the four consider the
permissibility of a publication ban and a fourth,
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) invalidates an order
excluding the public from a court room. Once again, three are set in the criminal justice system
and a fourth,
Edmonton Journal, arises in a civil context. Finally, Canadian Newspapers and
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) place open court in conflict with the interests of a complainant in
sexual assault proceedings. First, it is worthwhile noting, in a general way, the pre –
status of open court and privacy.
The open court principle at common law
Until recently, and with the exception of young off ender legislation, the statute law did
not protect the privacy of crime victims. Nor did the common law, as the two key pre –
decisions reveal.
Scott v. Scott was a precedent-setting decision of the House of Lords, which held that
open court does not defer to the privacy concerns of individuals who are participants in judicial
20 There, the issue arose, in a civil context, from an annulment hearing which was
in camera. After the court granted the petitioner an order annulling her marriage, on
grounds of her spouse’s impotence, she obtained transcripts of the hearing and circulated them to

his father, his sister, and a third party. Thereafter, he sought an order that she be held in
contempt of court for publicizing information that had been revealed in a closed hearing. The
annulment proceedings raised inherently private matters at a time when sensitive problems, like
male impotence, were not widely discussed. Even so, the House of Lords quickly rejected the
suggestion that litigants should be spared the humiliation, pain or embarrassment of having
private matters publicly disclosed.
As Earl Loreburn explained, “[t]he inveterate rule is that justice shall be administered in
open court”;
21 the traditional law, “that English just ice must be administered openly in the face
of all men”, he described as “an almost priceless inheritance.”
22 For his part, Lord Atkinson
acknowledged that the hearing of a case in public may be “painful, humiliating, or deterrent both
to parties and witnesses”, and that in many cases, especially those of a criminal nature, “the
details may be so indecent as to tend to injure public morals”.
23 He concluded, nonetheless, that
“all this is tolerated and endured”, because a public trial is “the best security fo r the pure,
impartial, and efficient administration of justice, the best means of winning for it public
confidence and respect”.
Lord Shaw added to the rhetoric of openness, in passages which have been cited with
frequency over the years. In doing so, he invoked and relied on the well-known words of Jeremy
Bentham, among others. As Lord Shaw declared:
It is needless to quote authority on this topic from legal, philosophical, or
historical writers. It moves Bentham over and over again. “In the darkne ss of
secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in
proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial
injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice.” “Publicity is
the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all
guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.”
“The security of securities is publicity.” But amongst historians the grave and
enlightened verdict of Hallam, in which he ranks the publicity of judicial
proceedings even higher than the rights of Parliament as a guarantee of public
security, is not likely to be forgotten: “Civil liberty in this kingdom has two direct
guarantees; the open administration of justice according to known laws truly
interpreted, and fair constructions of evidence; and the right of Parliament,
without let or interruption, to inquire into, and obtain redress of, public
grievances. Of these, the first is by far most indispensa ble; nor can the subjects of
any State be reckoned to enjoy a real freedom, where this condition is not found
both in its judicial institutions and in their constant exercise.”
Leaving aside the criminal process, which is subject to the requirement of a fair trial, the House
of Lords could only identify three exceptions to the Earl of Loreburn’s “inveterate rule”:
litigation affecting wards, lunacy proceedings, and disputes over trade secrets. Specifically, Lord
Shaw rejected the suggestion that openness should be diluted to preserve access to justice. After
inquiring whether the fear of giving evidence in public would deter witnesses of delicate feeling
from giving testimony, and provide a sound reason for administering justice in such cases behind

closed doors, he replied that “this ground is very dangerous ground”. 26 He agreed that the
reluctance to intrude one’s private affairs upon public notice induces many citizens to forgo their
just claims, and acknowledged that many such cases might have been b rought before tribunals
which met in secret. Yet he concluded that “the concession to these feelings would, in my
opinion, tend to bring about those very dangers to liberty in general, and to society at large,
against which publicity tends to keep us secure….”
27 On its face an uneventful matrimonial case,
Scott v. Scott provided an exegesis on the open court principle.
Some years before
Scott v. Scott, Duff J., of Canada’s Supreme Court, had written that
“[t]he general advantage to the country in having [] proceedings open more than counterbalances
the inconveniences to the private persons whose conduct may be the subject of such
28 And in the wake of Scott v. Scott, Lord Blaneburgh confirmed in McPherson v.
, which was likewise a matrimonial case, that publicity is the “authentic hall-mark of
judicial as distinct from administrative procedure.”
29 If openness prevailed over privacy in a
hearing of private interest to the spouses in a failed marriage, it was difficult to imagine how
privacy could prevail in a criminal case of the highest public interest.
Many years later, the Supreme Court of Canada addressed the clash between the private
and public in
Nova Scotia v. MacIntyre. 30 Decided in 1982, the year of the Charter’s arrival,
MacIntyre fell for resolution under common law. Though not a Charter decision, Dickson J.’s
opinion nonetheless anticipated the competing interests which would arise under a regime of
constitutional rights. There, the contest was between the
ex parte and in camera status of a
search warrant hearing, and the public’s access to information about the investigative process.
MacIntyre was a journalist who raised the question whether search warrants are documents
which he was entitled to examine, as a member of the public.
Mr. Justice Dickson, who wrote the Court’s majority opinion, accommodated them by
forging a compromise between the interests at stake. Thus he denied the journalist access to the
warrants at the time of their issue, but held that the do cuments became public upon being
executed. When a warrant is issued, protecting a potentially innocent subject and safeguarding
an investigative process which could be compromised by disclosure are the priorities. Once an
investigation is undertaken, however, he concluded that the public was entitled to know the
details, in the interests of accountability. Through that approach, Dickson J. protected the search
warrant process without sacrificing public access to information about the system.
His discussion of the underlying values in
MacIntyre also provided guidance for the
future. Citing Bentham, he endorsed a “strong public policy in favour of ‘openness’ in respect of
judicial acts”.
31 On the question of warrants, Dickson J. held that “[t]he concern fo r
accountability is not diminished by the fact that the search warrants might be issued by a justice
in camera”.32 To the contrary, he went on, “this fact increases the policy argument in favour of
accessibility”, because “[i]nitial secrecy surrounding the issuance of warrants may lead to abuse,
and publicity is a strong deterrent to malversation”.
33 Though he spoke in favour of “maximum
accountability and accessibility”, he found that those values could not be pursued at the expense
of harming the innocent or of impairing the efficiency of the search warrant” as a weapon in law
Mr. Justice Dickson’s analysis did not ignore privacy concerns. After recognizing that
such interests are unavoidably compromised by court proceedings, he declared that “[i]t is now
well established, however, that covertness is the exception and openness the rule”.
35 He noted
that the public’s confidence in the integrity of the court system and its understanding of the
administration of justice are fostered by a rule in favour of openness. When pitted against the
very integrity of the justice system, the privacy concerns of individuals do not weigh heavily in
the scales. Accordingly, Dickson J. stated that the “sensibilities of the individuals involved are
no basis for exclusion of the public from judicial proceedings”. 36 At the same time, though, he
introduced a qualification which would later be cited to support a right of victim privacy under
Charter. Significantly, he announced that public accessibility could be curtailed to protect
“social values of superordinate importance”.
37 In the circumstances, he left the task of
determining which social values are of that magnitude to future judicial consideration.
To summarize,
MacIntyre is not a Charter decision and has little to say directly on the
question of
victim privacy. In the circumstances of a journalist seeking information about search
warrants, Dickson J. was concerned about individuals who might be publicly exposed to
suspicion in the course of an investigation but vindicated, in at least some cases, upon its
conclusion. Yet his conception of the openness rule and its exceptions would have broader
applications. By combining the principle that “covertness is the exception and openness the
rule” with the prospect of exceptions to protect “social values of superordinate importance”, he
introduced a methodology which was flexible enough to accommodate competing values in a
range of settings and circumstances.
The open court, principles, and the Charter
With the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, restrictions on
openness were challenged under s.2(b), which guarantees freedom of expression and of the
38 Publication bans directly infringe the right to communicate information that is disclosed
in the course of criminal proceedings. Meanwhile, orders which exclude the public from
courtrooms deny access to information about the justice system and, in the case of the press,
interfere in the newsgathering function.
At the least, the
Charter has changed the way open court issues are analyzed. Before
turning to the decisions, it may be helpful to review some key points of
Charter analysis.
Whether and to whom the
Charter applies is a central issue that need only be noted here.
According to s.32, the
Charter applies to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments; as
most of the issues in this study arise under the
Criminal Code and other criminal law statutes, the
Charter applies without argument.39 Even so, it should be no ted that although the Charter does
not apply
per se to the common law, the rules of criminal law and process which remain
grounded in the common law must comply with the
In any discussion of open court and privacy, the key
Charter provisions are ss. 2(b), 8, 7
and 1. As noted above, s. 2(b)’s guarantee of expressive and press freedom is the source of
challenges to restrictions on open court. By comparison and, in the absence of an explicit textual
guarantee, the
Charter’s protection of privacy is less straightforward. Section 8, which
guarantees individuals the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, is related to
privacy but is concerned, directly, with the rights of the accused in the investigative process.
As Chapter Three explains, the Supreme Court drew on s.8 to incorporate protection for privacy
into s.7 of the
Charter, which prohibits the state from denying an individual’s life, liberty, or
security of the person in any way that violates the principles of fundament al justice.
41 Section 7,
in combination with s.15’s guarantee of equality, provided the basis for the Supreme Court’s
protection of victim privacy in sexual assault proceedings. As the discussion in this Chapter
shows, the privacy rights of complainants played a less significant role in the open court cases
decided under s.2(b) of the
Of central importance to the
Charter is s.1, which allows the government to “save”
legislation which violates a constitutional guarantee, by demonstrating that the infringement is
reasonable by reference to democratic values. It is axiomatic that the
Charter does not guarantee
rights absolutely, but sets up an equation; on one side of the equation are the rights and freedoms
that are guaranteed and, on the other, is s.1 and its concept of reasonable limits. Specifically, s.1
states that the
Charter’s rights are subject only to “such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably
justified in a free and democratic society”. The equation achieves balance by weighing the r ights
and freedoms in question against the limits placed on them by government. In simple terms, a
limit is justifiable under s.1 when the government establishes that it is reasonable to infringe an
individual’s constitutional rights. The result there is that democratic limits prevail over
individual rights. If the government cannot demonstrate that its limit is justifiable, the right will
prevail and the violation will be declared unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court encased the question of reasonable limits under s.1 in a doctrinal
framework which was introduced in
R. v. Oakes.42 The Oakes test proposed a complex and
structured series of requirements for the government to meet in satisfying its burden that a limit
Charter rights was demonstrably justified. Though it has generated variations in application
over the years, the standard’s fundamentals have remained constant. The test is cumulative, and
if the government’s measure fails any part, the infringement is unconstitutional. The first part of
Oakes seeks evidence of a government objective that is pressing and substantial enough to
warrant the infringement of a constitutional right.
Once that hurdle has been cleared, the second part, which is divided into three elements
that are known collectively as the proportionality test, must be applied. The object of
proportionality analysis is to ensure that the statutory provision is drafted with sufficient
precision to avoid the needless or gratuitous violation of rights. In summary, the
proportionality test demands that the limit be carefully drawn, be no broader than necessary, and
maintain proportionality between the measure’s salutary benefits and its deleterious
consequences. At the time
Oakes was decided, the Supreme Court intended to set up a strict and
rigorous standard of justification under s.1. Applied literally, and especially under the terms of
proportionality, the test proved rigid and inflexible. As a result, its components have been
adjusted over time to fit the circumstances of particular facts and issues.

This brief overview of Charter analysis serves as an introduction to the Supreme Court’s
four key decisions on the open court principle. The discussion below presents them
chronologically, in order of decision.
Canadian Newspapers Co. v. Canada (AG)43
The Supreme Court of Canada addressed the principle of open court for the first time
under the
Charter in Canadian Newspapers Co. v. Canada (A.G.). The issue there was whether
s.442(3) of the
Criminal Code (now s.486(3)) violated s.2(b) of the Charter. That provision
allowed a trial judge to impose a ban on the publication of the victim’s identity, as well as on
information which might identify the victim in sexual assault proceedings; in addition, s.442(3)
made a publication ban mandatory at the request either of the complainant or the prosecutor.
In the Ontario Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Howland held under s.1 of the Charter that
s.442(3)’s imperative element was unnecessary. The government’s interest in protecting the
complainant’s identity could be served, he thought, by making a ban available on an as needed,
case-by-case basis.
There was no dispute that s.442(3) violated s.2(b) of the Charter. The only question was
whether the violation was reasonable under s.1. In answering that question, Howland C.J.O.
acknowledged the connection between freedom of the press and the principle of open court, in
these terms:
The freedom of the press to report what transpires in our courtrooms is one of the
fundamental safeguards of our democratic society. Justice is not a cloistered
virtue and judicial proceedings must be subjected to careful scrutiny in order to
ensure that every person is given a fair trial…. Openness of the courts is essential
for the maintenance of public confidence in the administration of justice and to
further a proper understanding of the judicial system…. It gives the public an
opportunity to see that justice is done. There is necessarily implicit in the concept
of an open court the concept of publicity; the right of the media to report what
they have heard in the courtroom so that the public can be informed about court
proceedings, and public criticism, if necessary, engendered should any
impropriety occur.
At the same time, he also recognized and endorsed the objective of s.442(3). Relying on
MacIntyre, which permitted exceptions to openness when social values of superordinate
importance were at stake, Howland C.J.O. came to this conclusion:
… it has been clearly established that the social value to be protected, namely, the
bringing of those who commit such sexual offences to justice, is of superordinate
importance and can merit a prohibition against publication of the victims’ identity
or of any information that could disclose it. It is a reasonable limitation on the
freedom of the press.
Section 442(3)’s social value was established through evidence from the co -ordinator of a Sexual
Assault Crisis Centre, whose trial testimony was excerpted in the Court’s reasons, as follows:
Q. All right, what questions do they ask you about whether to report it or not?
A. Victims are very hesitant. I think the bottom line is they don’t want people to
know what happened. They check us out to see if we are connected with the
police or hospitals. They are concerned about privacy, because rape to them, or
sexual assault, is embarrassing. They feel ashamed and they are very hesitant to
report –
Q. – hesitant to report, all right. What apparent degree of importance is attached
by them to the issue of publicity of their identity?
A. They are concerned that if they do report, who is it going to be reported to.
Will it be printed in the paper? They are very hesitant to come to court because
that is part and parcel of their concern that other people will find out that [they]
have been rape victims and there are a number of factors that influence that. They
don’t feel they will be believed. They feel that they will be blamed for what
happened and they are very frightened about going to court – very frightened
about other people finding out in the papers and fearful of retribution by the
accused ….
Q. … where on the concerns raised with you would the concern over publicity
rank, from the concerns they disclose to you?
A. From the information I obtain from them, I would say very high on their list of
concerns, very high.
Q. In light of your experience … what effect do you feel it would have on the rate
at which they report the offence to the authorities, should section 442(3) be struck
A. The rate of reporting would drop even lower than it is now ….
Despite that evidence the Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that s.442(3)’s valid interest
in the prosecution of sexual assaults would be adequately served by the availability of a b an on
victim identity, at the discretion of the judge. In doing so, the Court acknowledged its concern
that in some instances the complainant might have made false allegations, or might have
previously accused other persons without justification. In such cases, publishing her name might
bring forth other witnesses to testify on behalf of the accused.
49 Given that prospect, and the fact
that the trial judge retained discretion on this issue in other countries, Howland C.J.O. found for
the Court that the government failed to show the need for a mandatory prohibition. The Supreme
Court of Canada disagreed with that conclusion and upheld the provision in its entirety.

The Court’s decision was written by Lamer J., who would later become the Chief Justice
of Canada. After noting the infringement of freedom of the press, he indicated that “the main
issue before us is whether the impugned provision can be salvaged under s.1.”
50 In terms of
s.442(3)’s objective, he found that the measure “purports to foster complaints by victims of
sexual assault by protecting them from the trauma of widespread publication resulting in
embarrassment and humiliation.”
51 In such circumstances, Lamer J. did not hesitate to conclude
that “[e]ncouraging victims to come forward and complain facilitates the prosecution and
conviction of those guilty” and satisfies the requirement of a pressing and substantial
government objective.
The second part of the s.1 analysis, which consists of the Oakes test’s three part
proportionality test, focussed on the question whether a mandatory ban was necessary when a
discretionary ban would also protect the complainant’s identity, with less intrusive consequences
for freedom of the press. Lamer J. also rejected that argument, for the following re asons. As he
noted, “fear of treatment by police or prosecutors, fear of trial procedures
and fear of publicity or
” are the main reasons sexual assault is underreported.53 In the circumstances, a
guarantee of anonymity could play a vital ro le in influencing a complainant’s decision whether to
report the offence: at the critical moment, the complainant may require a promise that her
identity will not be disclosed. A discretionary ban, which might or might not subsequently be
granted at trial, would be less intrusive of s.2(b), but more unpredictable from the complainant’s
perspective. Morever, he found that the limits imposed by s.442(3) on the media’s rights were
The Supreme Court’s decision in Canadian Newspapers was not a foregone conclusion.
Reasons, which were framed in the language of law enforcement, protected victim anonymity.
The Court may have emphasized that rationale because, as seen above, the judiciary had not
previously been sympathetic to the privacy concerns of participants in the justice system.
55 By
upholding s.442(3)’s mandatory ban, then,
Canadian Newspapers to some extent represented a
break with the past. Moreover, as the s. 2(b) jurisprudence evolved, it would become clear that
blanket prohibitions on expressive freedom, such as the one at stake in
Canadian Newspapers,
are difficult to justify.
56 Less intrusive means, such as discretionary bans, are normally more
desirable because they enable courts to balance interests, rather than choose, absolutely, between
Canadian Newspapers concluded that an automatic ban was necessary, essentially on the
strength of one witness’s testimony,
57 and failed to consider the underlying rationales of
openness, including the Ontario Court of Appeal’s suggestion that publicity might encourage
undiscovered witnesses to come forward. Though its reasoning, arguably, was flawed, the
Supreme Court invoked a law enforcement rationale to uphold s.442(3) and thereby protect the
privacy of complainants.
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (AG)58
Not long after the decision in Canadian Newspapers, the Supreme Court issued a
landmark in the s.2(b) jurisprudence. In
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (A.G.), a majority of four
judges concluded that a statutory provision banning the publication of certain information about
matrimonial proceedings was unconstitutional. Citing a countervailing interest in privacy, three
other members of the Court disagreed and would have upheld the provision.
Writing in support of the majority result, Cory J. strongly advocated values of openness,
accessibility, and accountability. Thus, he wrote that “a democracy cannot exist without that
freedom to express new ideas and to put forward opinions about the functioning of public
60 In his view, the vital importance of free and uninhibited speech could not be
over-emphasized. Given that the
Charter framed s.2(b) in “absolute terms”, the rights enshrined
in the guarantee could “only be restricted in the clearest of circumstances”.
61 Mr. Justice Cory
spoke of the connection between freedom of expression, democracy, and open courts. For
instance, he emphasized that “the courts must be open to public scrutiny and to public criticism
of their operation by the public”.
62 In one of the well known passages from his opinion, he stated
that “freedom of expression is of fundamental importance to a democratic society”, and
continued that “[i]t is also essential to a democracy and crucial to the rule of law that the courts
are seen to function openly.”
63 Turning to the press, Cory J. added that those who bring the news
to the public “must be free to comment upon court proceedings to ensure that the courts are, in
fact, seen by all to operate openly in the penetrating light of public scrutiny.”
At the same time, Cory J. was not unsympathetic to the privacy of individuals. He noted
that society has cherished and given protection to privacy, and indicated that the Court had on a
number of occasions “underlined the importance of the privacy interest in Canadian law.”
65 The
problem, though, was that the courts must function openly and the public’s need to know cannot
be denied. He concluded that in contrast to the ban at issue in
Canadian Newspapers, Alberta’s
restrictive ban on publication significantly reduced the openness of courts and was more
sweeping than necessary to protect the privacy of witnesses and children.
66 For those reasons, it
could not be justified under s.1.
Meanwhile, Wilson J. came to the same conclusion by a different route. In what she
referred to as a contextual approach, she juxtaposed the two values at stake. Like Cory J., she
strongly advocated the open court principle, and concluded that “there would have to be very
powerful considerations in order to justify inroads into the open court process.”
67 Though
Wilson J. gave some attention to the privacy interest, she characterized the concern at issue as
being the “personal anguish and loss of dignity that may result from having embarrassing details
of one’s life printed in the newspaper s.”
68 She turned to Scott v. Scott for “a stern reminder of
the importance of not allowing one’s compassion … to undermine a principle which is
fundamentally sound in its application.”
69 In her view, there was little in matrimonial disputes to
warrant a special immunity from publicity in court proceedings.
She concluded that the two values – the right of the press to publish, and the right of
litigants to the protection of their privacy in matrimonial disputes – could not both be fully
respected. In the circumstances she found it unnecessary for the statute to ban the publication of
information in all matrimonial cases, to protect the privacy of litigants in the small number of
cases which might cause trauma or humiliation.
LaForest J.’s dissent would have upheld the statute’s privacy provision. Prior to the
Charter, there was no constitutional basis on which to challenge a publication ban which
nonetheless was contrary to
Scott’s open court principle. Nor, as noted above, does the Charter
explicitly guarantee privacy rights. Despite the absence of a textual guarantee, La Forest J.
stated that personal privacy has “been recognized by this court as having constitutional
71 Though the Court’s protection of privacy was limited to s.8’s concept of
reasonable search and seizure, he suggested that privacy might also be an aspect of s.7’s liberty
or security of the person. “However that may be”, he went on, “there can be no doubt that in this
modern age, it ranks high in the hier archy of values meriting protection in a free and democratic
72 Against the weight of Scott and MacPherson, both of which dealt with a closed
hearing rather than a publication ban, La Forest J. voted to uphold the statutory provision. In
doing so, he concluded that privacy prevailed because of the “very limited character of the
restriction as compared with the serious deleterious effects on the important values sought to be
protected by the legislation.”
Mr. Justice La Forest also cited Canadian Newspapers in support of his conclusion. A
mandatory ban was acceptable to members of the Court in that setting, however, because victim
anonymity served law enforcement objectives and not because privacy prevailed over the open
court principle. By contrast, the statutory ban in
Edmonton Journal could not invoke an
objective apart from the protection of privacy. Though La Forest J. saw
Canadian Newspapers
and Edmonton Journal as analogous, the majority on that panel did not.
Canadian Newspapers, Edmonton Journal discussed and emphasized the open
court principle and its relationship to s.2(b) of the
Charter. Moreover, Edmonton Journal
confronted the conflict between open court and privacy, which Canadian Newspapers did not
mention. Finally, the Court recognized in
Edmonton Journal that the challenge was one of
balancing the two values. According to the majority, the statute’s protection of privacy failed the
requirement of proportionality that the infringement be no greater than necessary in the
circumstances. Despite that conclusion,
Edmonton Journal is significant because seven
members of the Court accepted that privacy has constitutional implications. As well, and against
the weight of a common law tradition that valued open court above privacy, three members of
the Court treated the privacy of litigants as a justifiable limit on s.2(b)’s guarantee of expressive
The discussion of
Edmonton Journal concludes by mentioning Vickery v. N.S.S.C.
, in which a majority of the Court denied a television producer access to a
videotape confession which had been submitted as evidence in a murder case.
74 The confession
was inadmissible, the accused was acquitted, and in response to a request for a copy of the
confession, the Court held that the defendant’s privacy interests “as a person acquitted of a crime
outweigh the public right of access to exhibits judicially determined to be inadmissible against
75 Vickery was not decided under the Charter, and nor did it concern a pu blication ban, as
was the case in
Edmonton Journal.
It is worth noting, nonetheless, for Cory J.’s dissenting opinion, which was joined by
Justices L’Heureux Dubé and McLachlin JJ. Though he expressed respect for the accused’s
right to privacy and weighed it in the balance, Mr. Justice Cory’s adherence to the open court
principle was passionate and unbending. Quoted below are a few of the passages which

demonstrate that, for him, the principle was almost unconditional. Thus, he expressed the value
of openness in these terms:
[C]ourts must,
in every phase and facet of their processes, be open to all to ensure
that so far as is humanly possible, justice is done and seen by all to be done. If
court proceedings, and particularly the criminal process, are to be accepted
must be completely open
so as to enable members f the public to assess both the
procedure followed and the final result obtained.
Without public acceptance, the
criminal law is itself at risk
After discussing American experience at some length, Cory J. stated that “[a]s a general rule the
sensibilities of the individuals involved are no basis for exclusion of the public from judicial
Under the heading “some general policy considerations”, Mr, Justice Cory declared that
an open trial process demonstrates “
to all, whether the family of the victim, the family of the
accused, or the members of the community in general, that
the entire criminal process has been
conducted fairly and that those accused of crimes have bee n dealt with justly.”
78 And, though he
emphasized the role of the media, as the public’s representative in court proceedings, it is the
value Cory J. attached to openness that is striking. On that he claimed the following:
There can be no confidence in t he criminal law process unless the public is
satisfied with all court proceedings from the beginning of the process to the end of
the final appeal.
Of the three levels of government, it is the courts above all which
must operate openly
. While what is done in secret is forever suspect, what is
done openly, whether susceptible to praise or condemnation, is more likely to
meet with acceptance.
There cannot be reasonable comment or criticism unless
all aspects of the proceedings are known to the public
In the end he cautioned against a “priestly cult of the law whereby lawyers and judges
exclusively determine” what can be seen and heard by members of the public; in his view,
“anything that prevents light being shed” on the subject of a trial “can only lead to a dark
suspicion of the process.”
Mr. Justice Cory’s comments on open court appeared in a dissenting opinion but are
significant nonetheless. Through the combination of
Edmonton Journal, the Vickery dissent, and
the majority opinion in
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson), a strong endorsement of the
value of the open court principle emerged in the Supreme Court jurisprudence.
Dagenais v. C.B.C.
Dagenais v. C.B.C.
is also a landmark, not only for s.2(b) and the open court principle,
but for the rights of third parties in the criminal process too.
81 There, conflict arose between the
fair trial rights of priests accused of sexual offences, and the C.B.C.’s right, under s.2(b), to
broadcast a controversial docudrama on that subject. Four members of a religious order, who
were accused of physical and sexual abuse in Catholic training schools, obtained a publication

ban which prevented the C.B.C. from broadcasting The Boys of St. Vincent. Speaking through
Chief Justice Lamer, the Supreme Court found that the order was unconstitutional; the evidence
did not disclose any threat to fair trial rights which could only be averted by banning the
Among the numerous
Code provisions which permit publication bans and closed
proceedings, there is none which addresses the threat to fairness that publicity can pose during
the trial itself. In default of a statutory rule, the issue reverted to the common law. As noted
above, common law rules which apply in criminal proceedings generally must co mply with the
Charter. Under those rules, publication bans were traditionally granted to prevent a real and
substantial risk that publicity might interfere with the right to a fair trial.
82 Although the
common law standard accorded freedom of expression some deference, the Chief Justice
questioned whether the rule provided “sufficient protection” for s.2(b)’s guarantee of expressive
83 In his view, a pre-Charter rule that favoured fair trial over free expression was
inconsistent with the principles of the
Charter.84 Accordingly, Lamer C.J. concluded that it
would be “inappropriate” to “continue to apply a common law rule that automatically favoured
the rights protected by s.11(d) over those protected by s.2(b).”
He indicated that the power to grant a publication ban may be discretionary, but its
exercise “cannot be open-ended” and must observe “the boundaries set by the principles of the
Charter.”86 To direct the exercise of discretion Chief Justice Lamer constitutionalized the
common law rule. In doing so, he modified the
Oakes test and proposed a standard which would
limit the availability of a ban to circumstances in which:
a) such a ban is
necessary in order to prevent a real and substantial risk to the
fairness of the trial, because reasonably available alternative measures will not
prevent the risk; and
b) the salutary effects of the publication ban outweigh the deleterious effects to the
free expression of those affected by them.
The Dagenais framework has since served as a model for determi ning the reasonableness of
other restrictions on open court.
88 On the central question of fair trial versus freedom of the
Dagenais represented an important vindication of openness. Though it failed to discuss
and reinforce the underlying values of open court, the majority opinion established a concrete
standard which rejected the assumption that virtually any risk to fair trial was sufficient to
warrant restrictions on publicity.
It is also significant, in terms of this study, that
Dagenais advanced the rights of crime
victims in two ways. One, which is procedural, altered the status of third parties in criminal
proceedings. In an adversarial contest between the state and the accused, third parties, such as
victims, witnesses and the C.B.C., had little or no status. Not surprisingly, the
Criminal Code
did not grant such parties a statutory right of appeal from orders affecting their rights under the
Charter. In Dagenais, this meant that unless the Supreme Court addressed its claim, the C.B.C.
would forfeit its rights under s.2(b) of the
Charter. To avoid that prospect, Chief Justice Lamer
found that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction, under its own statutory powers, to hear C.B.C.’s
89 As this avenue of appeal is not exclusive to the press, Dagenais effectively granted
third parties unprecedented access to justice at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Dagenais introduced a principle of Charter interpretation which inadvertently
provided the impetus for the recognition of victim pr ivacy under s.7 of the
Charter. Discussing
the competing interests at stake, the Chief Justice observed in
Dagenais that the Charter draws
no distinction between ss.2(b), which guarantees expressive and press freedom, and 11(d), which
guarantees a fair trial. This led him to conclude that it was inappropriate for the common law to
privilege one constitutional right at the expense of another, when the two have “equal status”.
More generally, Lamer C.J. stated that “[a] hierarchical approach to rights, which places some
over others, must be avoided, both when interpreting the
Charter and when interpreting the
common law”.
91 In cases of conflict between two rights, he indicated, Charter principles require
“a balance to be achieved that fully respects the im portance of both sets of rights”.
92 If it was
unclear how conflicting rights could both be fully respected, the key point is that
endorsed a non-hierarchical approach to Charter rights. How Dagenais contributed to the
evolution of victim privacy through its rejection of a hierarchy of values is traced, in detail, in
Chapter Three.
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)93
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson) combined Edmonton Journal’s strong
endorsement of openness values with a doctrinal standard that built on the methodology of
Dagenais. In doing so, the Court emphasized the importance of the newsgathering function and
its relationship to an informed public and democratic values. Unlike previous cases,
C.B.C. (Re:
R. v. Carson)
raised the question of access to the courtroom. Under s.486(1) of the Criminal
, which permits proceedings to be closed to protect the proper administration of justice, the
trial judge had excluded the public from a portion of the sentence hearing whic h disclosed the
acts of sexual assault and interference the accused had committed against two young females.
Though LaForest J., for the majority, found the order unconstitutional in the circumstances, he
upheld s.486(1). In doing so, he accepted that privacy is a valid exception to the rule in favour of
Section 486(1) declares that proceedings shall be held in open court, except when the
judge concludes that it is “in the interest of public morals, the maintenance of order or the proper
administration of justice to exclude all or any members of the public from the court room for all
or part of the proceedings.”
94 Rather than invalidate the provision, LaForest J. stated that in
applying its exclusionary criteria, a court must exercise its disc retion “in conformity with the
Charter.”95 In his view, s.486(1) armed the judiciary with a useful and flexible interpretive tool
to preserve the openness principle, subject to whatever exceptions or limits the proper of
administration of justice might require. The fact that the discretion must be exercised within
constitutional parameters would ensure that the terms of a particular exclusionary order would
accomplish what was necessary to achieve s.486(1)’s goals, and no more. When an exercise of
discretion did not conform with the
Charter, it would be appropriate for the Court to quash the

To provide guidance in determining the validity of an exclusionary order, LaForest J.
drew on the
Dagenais standard. Stating that the “same directives” are equally useful in
determining when a court room may be closed under s.486(1), he held that an exclusion order
can only be issued once the following steps have been taken:
a) the judge must consider the available options and consider whether there are any
other reasonable and effective alternatives available;
b) the judge must consider whether the order is limited as much as possible; and
c) the judge must weigh the importance of the objectives of the particular order and
its probable effects against the importance of openness and the particular
expression that will be limited in order to ensure that the positive and negative
effects of the order are proportionate.
In addition, he indicated that the burden of displacing the rule of openness rests on the party
making the application, and stressed, repeatedly, the need for a sufficient evidentiary basis for
the order.
In the result, the trial judge’s order was inconsistent with s.2(b) of the Charter, not only
because embarrassment alone is not a sufficient reason to protect witnesses from a public
presence in the courtroom but also, because there was no evidence that the two victims would
suffer “undue hardship” were the public permitted to attend a twenty-minute segment of the
hearing on sentence. The victim impact statements did not indicate any basis for such hardship
and nor did they disclose the circumstances of the offences. Most sexual offences involve
evidence that is “very delicate”, La Forest J. observed, and there was nothing to indicate that thi s
case should be “elevated” above other sexual assaults.
98 The mere fact that the victims were
young females was not sufficient in itself, and there were other effective means to protect them.
Excluding the public was unnecessary because the victims’ ide ntities were protected by a nonpublication order, they were not witnesses at the hearing, and there was no evidence that their
privacy required more protection.
Though reluctant to criticize, LaForest J. was not impressed that the trial judge made the
exclusionary order without first confirming that all the facts had been placed before the court.
He agreed that the criminal justice system must be “ever vigilant in protecting victims of sexual
assault from further victimization”, but cautioned that t he importance of a sufficient factual
foundation for s.486(1)’s exercise could not be overstated.
102 In this instance, the trial judge’s
reasons for excluding were no better than “scant”.
The Court’s concern with a factual foundation and sufficient evid entiary basis arise from
its perception of the s.2(b) values at stake. In that regard,
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) is noteworthy
for its insights on and endorsement of the open court principle. First, LaForest J. recognized that
access to the courts is “integrally linked to the concept of representative democracy and the
corresponding importance of public scrutiny of the criminal courts.”
104 In addition, he
acknowledged that through the gathering and dissemination of information, the media plays an
“integral role” in informing the public about the courts. As he explained, “the democratic
function of public criticism of the courts” would not be possible without a public informed by the
press, and the press could not discharge its responsibility to the publi c without access to the

courts.105 In his own words, “[d]ebate in the public domain is predicated on an informed public,
which is in turn reliant on a free and vigorous press.”
106 Though the Court upheld s.486(1),
including its discretion to exclude the public from the court room, La Forest J. regarded
openness, access to information, and the newsgathering function as essential aspects of Canadian
At the same time, LaForest J. had dissented earlier in
Edmonton Journal, and was
sympathetic to the protection of privacy. Though openness prevailed in the circumstances of
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson), he did not ignore the privacy concerns of crime victims. Noting that
earlier case law had established a strong presumption in favour of open courts, he added that the
importance of privacy “has only recently been recognized by Canadian courts.”
107 Citing
MacIntyre, Edmonton Journal, and R. v. O’Connor,108 LaForest J. stated that “the right to
privacy is beginning to be seen as more significant.”
109 And though openness “appears inherent
to the nature of a criminal trial,”
110 he added that “the court’s power to regulate the publicity of
its own proceedings serves … to protect privacy interests, especially those of witnesses and
111 His majority opinion concluded that excluding the public under s.486(1) is
permissible to protect the innocent and safeguard privacy interests, and “thereby provide a
remedy to the under reporting of sexual offences.”
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) gave the principle of open court strong vindication under the
Charter. At the same time, LaForest J. accepted that privacy interests could justify an exclusion
order, providing that a sufficient factual foundation was established. Though the public should
not have been excluded in the circumstances of that sentence hearing, exclusion orders are
constitutionally available under
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) when supported by a “sufficient
evidentiary basis”. Despite the common law’s reluctance in this regard, the Court showed its
willingness, under the
Charter, to recognize privacy as a valid exception to the open court
Prior to the Charter, open court was a principle that was highly prized but subject to
exceptions nonetheless. Though the privacy of participants in the justice system was not an
exception the common law recognized, the legislatures were free to modify that position and
protect privacy by statutory measures. With the
Charter’s arrival the relationship between the
principle and its exceptions remained constant in some ways, and was altered in others.
Open court has been given especially strong recognition in the s.2(b) jurisprudence.
Traditionally, the principle has been linked to the fairness of proceedings, as well as to the
legitimacy of criminal justice and the public’s confidence in the system. What the
Charter has
added are a recognition of the link between open court and democratic accountability, and the
distinctive role the press plays in providing the public the information it requires to scr utinize
and debate the operations of the justice system. These values received strong endorsement under
Charter in Edmonton Journal and C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson).
As to results, the open court claims succeeded in three of the four decisions reviewed in
this Chapter, and others could be added to the list.
113 In that regard, it is important to note that
the evidentiary threshold for a limit or an exception to the principle has changed dramatically.

The common law treated open court and fair trial as im portant values, but assumed that open
court should yield to fair trial whenever that value might be threatened. Statutory provisions
created blanket or mandatory exceptions, or granted judges almost unfettered discretion to place
limits on access or publicity. Under the doctrinal framework introduced in
Dagenais, and
developed in the subsequent case law, that would change. Limits on the principle remain
permissible, but must now satisfy particular and more onerous requirements under the
Dagenais, C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson), and the more recent Mentuck/O.N.E. cases demonstrate that
it has become difficult to justify limits on the open court principle.
114 Looking back at Canadian
today, one wonders whether the result would have been the same, had the case been
decided under the standards established by the subsequent jurisprudence.
While enhancing the status of open court, the
Charter jurisprudence also granted privacy
concerns important protection. As seen above,
Canadian Newspapers employed a law
enforcement rationale under s.1 of the
Charter to protect the identity of sexual assault
complainants. Subsequently, however, and though it did not prevail, the privacy interest was
considered and weighed by the judges in the majority in
Edmonton Journal, and was the
deciding factor for those who dissented. Finally,
C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) discussed privacy in
some detail and treated it as a reasonable limit on open court which failed because it was not
established, as a matter of evidence, in the circumstances of that case. Without serving as the
determining factor or changing the result in any of these cases, privacy nonetheless travelled a
considerable distance from
Scott and MacIntyre, and in a relatively short time, under the
Chapter Three
Victim privacy, sexual assault, and the Charter
Privacy was a theme in Chapter Two’s analysis of the open court principle. Though it
was an indirect or unspoken factor in
Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (A.G.), and an express
consideration in
Edmonton Journal v. Edmonton (A.G.) and C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v.
, the Supreme Court did not in these cases treat privacy as an entitlement in its own
1 The purpose of this Chapter, then, is to explain how it was recognized as a Charter right
in sexual assault proceedings. That development occurred in the context of setting evidentiary
boundaries around the complainant’s privacy in her past sexual history and in securing the
confidentiality of her counselling and therapeutic records.
The discussion begins by acknowledging the significance of privacy in sexual assault
Canadian Newspapers acknowledged that anonymity is an element in a victim’s
decision whether to report the commission of an offence and to proceed with charges. Privacy
concerns do not stop there, however, but continue through the investigative and trial processes.
At every stage, the complainant’s credibility is open to question. In addition to the unavoidably
private nature of a sexual offence, which can only be revealed by the complainant, the victim has
in the past been subject to inquiries into the history of other sexual activities. More recently,
complainants’ privacy has been threatened by defence claims for access to cou nselling and
therapeutic records which are in the possession either of the Crown or private third parties.
Rules of evidence which regulated the defendant’s access to these sources of information
provoked contests under the
Charter, between the accused’s right to full answer and defence, and
the privacy and equality rights of complainants. This Chapter focuses on a trilogy of decisions
which together led to the recognition of victim privacy under s.7 of the
Charter. In order of
decision and also of discussion below, those cases are:
R. v. Seaboyer,3 R. v. O’Connor,4 and R.
v. Mills
.5 Before continuing, it is important to explain why this development is significant. First,
sexual assault’s implications for privacy are complex and multi-dimensional; it would be a
mistake, therefore, to treat conflicts between open court and victim privacy as an isolated
phenomenon. Second, as a result of that connection, the entitlement which emerged in
Mills may
influence the way open court and privacy values will be balanced under s.2(b) of
The Charter.
There is one further preliminary to a discussion of the three key decisions. Before
explaining how the Supreme Court resolved conflicts between the defendant’s right to full
answer and defence, and the complainant’s assertion of privacy and equality rights, it is
worthwhile to review the
Charter status of privacy prior to the Seaboyer-O’Connor-Mills trilogy.
The privacy rights of the accused
Nowhere does the Charter explicitly protect privacy, and nor does it mentio n the rights of
crime victims. Rather, its legal rights, which are found in ss.7 to 14, grant those accused of

offences a number of procedural and substantive rights. Perhaps for that reason, the primary
beneficiaries of the Supreme Court of Canada’s early
Charter jurisprudence were criminal
defendants. One of the Court’s first decisions concerned s.8, which provides that “[e]veryone
has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
6 In commenting on the
guarantee’s interpretation in
Hunter v. Southam, Dickson J. announced that the Charter provides
for the “unremitting protection of individual rights and liberties”.
7 As for s.8, he rejected the
suggestion that common law rules rooted in concerns about property and the law of trespas s
should determine its scope. Instead, he stated that the
Charter’s provisions must be “capable of
growth and development over time to meet new social, political and historical realities.”
8 Once
having acknowledged the need for a “broad perspective in app roaching constitutional
9 Dickson J. signalled his wariness of “foreclosing the possibility that the right to be
secure against unreasonable search and seizure might protect interests
beyond the right of
”, and indicated that “its protection goes at least that far.”10 The question, he held, is
whether “the public’s interest in being left alone by government must give way to the
government’s interest in intruding on the individual’s privacy.”
That determination depends, from one case to t he next, on whether the individual is
entitled in the circumstances, to “a reasonable expectation of privacy against governmental
12 In R. v. Dyment, Mr. Justice La Forest reinforced the relationship Hunter v.
had forged between s.8’s guarantee and the concept of privacy. He endorsed the view
that “privacy is at the heart of liberty in a modern state”, and added that, in being “grounded in
many’s physical and moral autonomy”, it is “essential for the well -being of the individual.”
Worthy of constitutional protection for that reason alone, he declared that privacy has profound
significance for the public order because restraints on the government’s power to pry into the
lives of citizens “go to the essence of a democratic state.”
La Forest J. also agreed with Dickson J.’s suggestion that Charter rights should be
interpreted in a broad and liberal manner. In terms of s.8, that meant “[i]ts spirit must not be
constrained by narrow legalistic classifications based on notions of pr operty and the like which
served to protect this fundamental human value in earlier times.”
15 Quoting from the Task Force
Privacy and Computers, he agreed that privacy transcends the physical and engages the
dignity of the human person.
16 His comments about informational privacy are of particular
interest in the context of this Chapter:
In modern society, especially, retention of information about oneself is extremely
important. We may, for one reason or another, wish or be compelled to reveal
such information, but situations abound where the reasonable expectation of the
individual that the information shall remain confidential to the person to whom,
and restricted to the purposes for which it is divulged, must be respected.
Hunter v. Southam and R. v. Dyment established a strong foundation for privacy but were
limited as precedent to s.8 and its application to investigative processes. Any right of privacy
outside that context would have to be located elsewhere in the
Charter. Over time, s.7, which
guarantees entitlements that are more general and abstract, filled that gap in the
Charter’s text.
The provision protects three entitlements – the right to “life, liberty and security of the person” –

and then adds an important proviso: a deprivation of those rights which is consistent with
principles of fundamental justice does not violate the
As s.7’s abstract text is amenable to broad and narrow interpretations, it is not surprising
that the Supreme Court has shifted in both directions. On t he one hand, the Court has been
reluctant to freeze or stultify the content of this
Charter right; on the other, the judges realize that
concepts such as liberty or security of the person, as well as fundamental justice, are malleable.
In the case of privacy, then, the genesis of a right under s.7 is found in
dicta discussing the
meaning of “security of the person.” In an early decision, Lamer J. claimed that the meaning of
liberty and security of the person should not be confined to elements of physical integrity, but
should include violations of an individual’s psychological integrity as well.
19 Despite its
influence on the s.7 jurisprudence,
R. v. Mills was decided under s.11(b), which entitles the
accused to trial within a reasonable time.
20 There, Mr. Justice Lamer effictively incorporated
s.7’s guarantees of liberty and security of the person into his interpretation of s.11(b).
21 In his
view, the reasonable time guarantee was designed to protect the rights set forth in s.7, albeit “in a
specific manner and setting.”
22 Having linked the general contours of s.7 and the particulars of
s.11(b), he held that under the latter, “the security of the person is to be safeguarded as jealously
as the liberty of the person.”
23 Mr. Justice Lamer then expounded on the meaning of security of
the person, in these terms:
Security of the person is not restricted to physical integrity; rather, it encompasses
protection against overlong subjection to the vexations and vicissitudes of a
pending criminal accusation … These include stigmatization of the accused,
of privacy
, stress and anxiety resulting from a multitude of factors, including
possible disruption of family, social life, and work, legal costs, uncertainty as to
the outcome and sanction.
dicta which appeared in a dissenting opinion that addressed the scope of s.7 in a
s.11(b) case dealing with the rights of the
accused, and in which privacy was but one in a list of
security interests, helped provide the foundation for a right of
victim privacy.
The Court picked up on the proposition that s.7 protects an individual’s psychological
integrity in other decisions as well. For instance, in
R. v. Morgentaler, Dickson C.J. stated that
“[s]ecurity of the person must be given content in a manner sensit ive to its constitutional
24 After citing the above passage from Mills, he held that “[i]f state-imposed
psychological trauma infringes security of the person in the rather circumscribed case of s.11(b),
it should be relevant to the general case of s.7 where the right is expressed in broader terms.”
Even so, he held that criminal restrictions on a woman’s right to seek an abortion were in the
circumstances unconstitutional, but concluded that “[i]t is not necessary … to determine whether
the right extends further, to protect either interests central to personal autonomy, such as a
to privacy
or interests unrelated to criminal justice.”26 Meanwhile, Madam Justice Wilson’s
concurring opinion citing the same passage from
Mills, found that “the right to security of the
person entitled a person to be protected against psychological trauma”, and agreed that the
entitlement extended to an individual’s physical and psychological integrity.
27 She alone held
that s.7 guarantees the substantive right to seek an abortion which, in her view, was grounded in

s.7’s liberty entitlement and its guarantee “to every individual a degree of personal autonomy
over important decisions intimately affecting their
private lives.”28
As seen above in Chapter Two, the Supreme Court accepted that s.2(b)’s principle of
open court could be limited, under the s.1 analysis, to protect privacy interests. As an
entitlement, however, the concept of privacy was confined to s.8 and those accused of crimes.
Meantime, both before and after the
Charter’s enactment, the women’s movement achieved
important reforms in many areas of the criminal law. Early in the 1980s, Parliament repealed the
Criminal Code’s rape provision and created the offence of sexual assault in its place. 29 That step
was one of several which, together, comprised a package of reforms. Even before those reforms,
Parliament introduced legislation which placed strict limits on an accused’s right to cross –
examine the complainant on her past sexual history.
30 Measures which protected a victim’s
identity, which were discussed in Chapter Two, are another part of the initiatives that were
introduced in this period.
31 Subsequently, Criminal Code provisions also narrowed or removed
certain defences in sexual assault proceedings. The two most controversial defences were the
accused’s claim of a mistaken belief that the activity was consensual,
32 and the excuse that he
was too intoxicated to be held criminally responsible for his actions.
These changes were afoot at the time the Charter was enacted in 1982. In the years that
followed, the Supreme Court’s aggressive protection of the accused’s rights prompted
complainants to assert
Charter entitlements of their own. In the course of the SeaboyerO’Connor-Mills trilogy, the Court extended the concept of privacy that had protected criminal
defendants from search and seizure under s.8, to the victims of crime, under s.7 of the
The privacy rights of victims
As seen above in Chapter Two, Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (A.G.) employed a law
enforcement rationale to protect victim anonymity in sexual assault proceedings. Yet privacy
concerns are not limited to the question of identity, but run through the process. An issue which
may surface for the first time when a complainant is deciding whether to report an offence can be
magnified at trial, when she is required to testify about the assault in open court, and then to
submit to cross-examination by the lawyer for the accused. That part of the process has been
especially contentious in recent years. On the one hand, the accused is entitled, under the
Charter, to various aspects of a fair trial, one of which is his right to make “full answer and
defence.” This entitlement, which is protected under ss.7 and 11(d), gua rantees access to
whatever evidence is necessary for him to make his defence, including private information about
the complainant.
Before the reforms just mentioned, this evidence in sexual assault proceedings included
the right to cross-examine the complainant on her past sexual experience. Common law rules of
evidence allowed that line of questioning on the assumption that such information was relevant
to the question of consent. When the common law was modified by
Criminal Code provisions
restricting access to such evidence, those limits were challenged under the
Charter, as violations
of the defendant’s fair trial right and his right to make full answer and defence.

Meanwhile, the perception that complainants were being re-victimized by a process
which was dominated by myths and stereotypes drew attention to their rights in the criminal trial
process. In this way, the privacy and equality claims of sexual assault victims were set up
against the rights of the accused. This contest gave rise to two major developments in the
Charter jurisprudence: first, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a right of victim privacy
under s.7; and second, in doing so, the Court held that the victims of such crimes are not
subordinate, but equal in their rights, to the accused. Before turning to the trilogy of cases, it
should be mentioned that this Chapter does not comment on the concept of relevance, as its
purpose instead is to trace the evolution of a
Charter right of privacy.
R. v. Seaboyer35
R. v. Seaboyer was a decision which highlighted the divisive issues which arise in sexual
assault cases. There, a Supreme Court majority opinion invalidated s.276 of the
Criminal Code,
which made cross-examination on a complainant’s previous sexual history effectively
unavailable to the accused in prosecutions for sexual assault.
36 According to then Madam Justice
McLachlin, who wrote the Court’s opinion, the
Code’s so-called “rape-shield” provision
impermissibly infringed the accused’s rights under the
Charter. In restricting access to a line of
questioning that could result in an acquittal, s.276 denied him the opportunity to answer the
charge against him. Though her decision to strike s.276 effectively restored the common law,
McLachlin J. articulated a number of guidelines to prevent a return to past patterns of crossexamination.
Meanwhile, L’Heureux Dubé J. wrote a stinging dissent which extensively reviewed the
myths and stereotypes of rape law, before concluding that s.276 did not offend s.7 and was, in
any case, easily justified under s.1 of the
Charter. As far as she was concerned, the exclusion of
“largely irrelevant and highly prejudicial sexual history evidence does not significantly entrench
[sic] upon an accused’s right to a fair trial or an accused’s right to make full answer and
38 Not only did Seaboyer expose sharp disagreement between the Supreme Court’s two
women judges, the dissent aggressively supported a feminist interpretation of sexual assault. Yet
by majority vote, the rights of the accused prevailed over those of his victims, as they had so
consistently in the past. For these and other reasons,
Seaboyer marked a defining moment in the
rising conflict between the rights of those accused of sexual offences and their accusers.
McLachlin J.’s majority opinion described s. 276 as imposing a “blanket exclusion” on
evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual history, subject only to three exceptions.
39 In the
circumstances, her difficulty was that the provision denied the accused access to evidence, in
some instances, that he was constitutionally entitled to, as a matter of fair trial under s.11(d) and
fundamental justice under s.7 of the
Charter. After describing a number of situations in which
such evidence might be relevant, she held that s.276 was constitutionally flawed because an
absolute exclusion provided no means for evidence to be evaluated.
40 From her perspective,
such an approach was “inherently incapable of permitting the Court sufficient latitude to
properly determine relevance in the individual case.”
Supporters of s.276 maintained that its key purpose was to abolish common law rules
which permitted evidence of the complainant’s sexual conduct that was of little probative value
and was calculated to mislead the jury. In addition, they submitted that the provision advanced
the truth-seeking objective of criminal justice, and that eliminating this evidence would preserve
the integrity of the trial process, encourage the reporting of crime, and protect the witness’s
42 Responding, in particular, to the privacy issue, McLachlin J. stated that such a claim
could not justify s.276’s rigid exclusionary rule. “Important as it is to take all measures possible
to ease the plight of the witness”, she held that “the constitutional right to a fair trial must take
precedence in case of conflict.”
43 As for the notion that complainants could claim entitlements
of their own under ss.7 and 15 of the
Charter, she noted that s.7 includes a variety of societal
interests but stated that a measure which denied the accused’s right to full answer and defence
would violate s.7 in any event.
44 For her, the problem was that s.276’s “pigeon-hole approach”
was incapable of addressing the evidentiary question whether the evidence was relevant or not in
any particular case.
Despite invalidating s.276, Madam Justice McLachlin did not favour a return to the
common law’s “outmoded sexist-based use of sexual conduct evidence.”
46 She described as
“totally discredited” the idea that a complainant’s integrity might be affected by whether she has
had other sexual experiences, and went on to state that “[t]here is no logical or practical link
between a woman’s sexual reputation and whether she is a truthful person.”
47 A provision that
excluded evidence which was sought for illegitimate purposes was unquestionably permissible;
the difficulty for her was that the existing provision also had unconstitutional effects. Her
solution formulated guidelines which were designed to “reduce and even eliminate the concer ns”
which had prompted the enactment of s.276, and at the same time to preserve the right of an
accused to a fair trial.
Meantime, L’Heureux Dubé J. was adamant that the provision did not violate the Charter
and should be upheld. She described McLachlin J.’s optimism that judicial guidelines could
address Parliament’s objectives and avoid the infirmities of the common law as “badly
49 In her view, the guidelines were “entirely too broad and support the very
stereotypes and myths that they are meant to eradicate.”
50 But if the tone of her dissenting
opinion magnified divisions between the two, it is worth noting that victim privacy was not a
central consideration in either opinion.
Madam Justice L’Heureux Dubé declared more than once that sexual assault is “not like
any other crime.”
51 Nor was her dissenting opinion limited in scope to the constitutionality of
Seaboyer presented the opportunity to write an indictment of the law of sexual assault, and
so she did. Accordingly, her lengthy reasons detailed and catalogued the myths and stereotypes
that infuse the system,
52 and serve as a filtering process which “select[s] out the cases not worthy
of further attention.”
53 As a result, when a woman’s victimization does not “fit the myths”, she
declared it unlikely that an arrest would be made or a conviction obtained.
54 Myths, which she
unmistakeably viewed as insidious, affect “perceptions of the culpability of the aggressor and the
moral “character” and, hence, the credibility of the complainant”.
55 In summarizing the flaws of
the system, she found that “from the making of the initial complaint down to the determination

of the issue at trial”, discriminatory beliefs are at work, thereby lowering the number of reported
cases, influencing police decisions to decrease the rate of arrest, and distorting the issues at trial,
with implications for the outcome.
56 L’Heureux Dubé J.’s reasons left little doubt that she
regarded these beliefs as an endemic and destructive force.
Not surprisingly, she also found that the common law uncritically “enshrined” these
discriminatory beliefs in its rules of evidence. Because the law viewed victims of sexual assault
with “suspicion and distrust”, unique evidentiary rules were developed, and the complainant in a
sexual assault trial was treated “unlike any other.”
57 In enacting s.276 and a host of other
reforms, Parliament took important steps to address and remedy discriminatory beliefs that were
deeply entrenched in the common law. Under a view that condemn ed the common law and
applauded the statutory initiatives, the constitutional analysis of s.276 became a foregone
conclusion. There, L’Heureux Dubé J. held that s.7 is not confined to the “narrow interests of
the accused”, and rejected the “recognition of an unfettered right in the accused to adduce all
relevant evidence.”
58 Under s.1, she made these observations about the justifiability of the
It is obvious that in respect of the provision at issue in this case, the goal of
Parliament was to eliminate sexual discrimination in the trial of sexual offences
through the elimination of irrelevant and/or prejudicial sexual history evidence. A
further legislative goal, intimately linked to the first, is to encourage women to
report their victimization. My discussion of sexual assault at the outset makes it
clear that a factor that loomed large in the failure of women to report, and police
to classify complaints as “founded” and in the high rate of acquittal was the
admission of prior sexual history into the trials of sexual offences.
Additionally, it is noteworthy, considering her subsequent opinion in R. v. O’Connor, that she
introduced s.15 and equality values in her discussion under s.1. Finally, citing
and its conclusion that “an absolute ban on publication is the only means to reach
the desired objective
”, she stated that “much the same can be said” of s.276: in order to
“effectively combat sex discrimination and increase reporting”, Parliament had attempted to
eliminate the application of discriminatory beliefs at trials of sexual offences.”
Seaboyer represents a point of departure in the evolution of a privacy right for sexual
assault complainants. The analysis and debate between the Court’s two women judges focussed
on shifting conceptions of relevance and the right of full answer and defence. Somewhat like
Canadian Newspapers, then, Seaboyer addressed concerns about victim privacy without
suggesting or accepting that it might be protected by the
Charter. The Court had not reached the
point of balancing the rights at stake; privacy had not yet emerged as an entitlement, much less
been granted equal status with fair trial and full answer and defence.
By the time
R. v. O’Connor was decided, the dynamics had changed. While Madam
Justice L’Heureux-Dubé’s
Seaboyer dissent was praised, McLachlin J.’s majority opinion was
scorned. In due course, Parliament enacted a new “rape-shield law” along the lines the dissent
had suggested.
61 Meantime, substantial restrictions on an accused’s free rein to explore a
complainant’s past sexual history shifted the right of full answer and defence to another source
of evidence – counselling or therapeutic records which could provide information about a
complainant that might assist an accused in defending a charge of sexual assault.
R. v. O’Connor62
Like Seaboyer, the Court’s decision in R. v. O’Connor took a critical step in the direction
of establishing a right of victim privacy under the
Charter. Once again, innovative reasoning
appeared in the dissenting opinion of Madam Justice L’Heureux Dubé. This time she linked the
myths and stereotypes reviewed in
Seaboyer to the privacy and equality rights of complainants in
sexual assault proceedings. Not only did L’Heureux Dubé J. set those rights up against the
accused’s right of full answer and defence, she maintained that their rights were equal, and
should not be subordinated to those which belong to criminal defendants. For those reasons, the
O’Connor dissent may be one of L’Heureux Dubé J.’s most powerful opinions. In responding to
the Court’s decision, which applied the
Charter in a non-statutory setting, Parliament enacted
Bill C-46,
63 and legislation that rejected the majority opinion in favour of the dissent in
O’Connor was subsequently upheld in R. v. Mills.64 Through the trajectory of O’Connor, Bill
C-46, and
R. v. Mills, the Supreme Court entrenched a right of victim privacy under s.7.
Meantime, in the period between
Seaboyer and O’Connor, the Supreme Court dismissed
full answer and defence challenges to
Code provisions which protected witnesses who were
young and vulnerable. Thus Chief Justice Lamer wrote for a majority in
R. v. L.(D.O.),65 which
agreed that s. 715.1 did not impermissibly violate the accused’s
Charter rights.66 Under its
terms, young complainants who have been the victims of sexual offences are permitted to give
their evidence by videotape. L’Heureux Dubé J.’s concurrence spoke of the “innate power
imbalance between the numerous young women and girls who are the victims of sexual abuse at
the hands of almost exclusively male perpetrators.”
67 In light of that, she held that the Court
could not disregard the “propensity of victims of sexual abuse to fail to report the abuse in order
to conceal their plight from institutions within the criminal justice system which hold
stereotypical and biased views about the victimization of women.”
68 Referring, as well, to
privacy concerns, she added that the subject matter of the crime “requires that the child provide
intimate and embarrassing details about the events that occurred – the unwanted interference with
the child’s body.”
Then in Levogiannis v. the Queen, s.486(2.1), which permits a young complainant to
testify behind a screen, was also upheld.
70 Under that provision, the screen blocked the
complainant’s view of the accused, which might threaten or intimidate the witness, but not the
accused’s view of the complainant. There, too, the interest in creating conditions for the
complainant’s testimony, which would facilitate the prosecution of sexual abuse, prevailed.
Dagenais v. C.B.C. was also decided in the interim between Seaboyer and
O’Connor. As noted above in Chapter Two, Chief Justice Lamer indicated that the Court should
adopt a non-hierarchical approach to the interpretation of
Charter rights.71 He stated that
principle in the context of a contest between fair trial and a free press, both of which are
guaranteed by the
Charter’s text. In O’Connor, however, that part of Dagenais provided support
for the proposition that the rights of the accused should not prevail over those of their victims.

Specifically, Madam Justice L’Heureux Dubé J.’s dissent stated that, “a balance must be struck”,
which places the
Charter rights of complainants “on an equal footing with those of accused
For purposes of this Chapter, the key question in R. v. O’Connor was whether an accused
charged with sexual offences could require third parties to produce counselling and therapeutic
records which pertained to the complainant.
73 A brief digression is necessary to explain how the
accused claimed the right, under the
Charter, to review records which were held by private, nongovernmental parties. Once again, the entitlement at stake was full answer and defence, and the
argument was that the accused required access to such records in order to defend the charges
against him. The milestone precedent was
R. v. Stinchcombe, which imposes a constitutional
duty on the Crown to disclose all information in its possession to the accused.
74 Parenthetically,
it is noteworthy that
Stinchcombe and Seaboyer were decided the same year; ironically, while
Stinchcombe expanded the accused’s access to defence evidence, the majority in Seaboyer
agreed with Parliament that a complainant’s past sexual history was irrelevant in most cases and,
excepting in specified circumstances, unavailable to the accused. Thus, effectively denied access
to areas of cross-examination which had previously been open, criminal defendants began
seeking another source of evidence – the complainant’s records.
O’Connor raised the question
whether the Crown’s
Stinchcombe duty should extend to records held by third parties, as an
aspect of the accused’s right of full answer and defence.
In the absence of Criminal Code provisions on this issue, the Supreme Court proposed an
approach that granted the accused access to such records, but not as a matter of course, and not
without establishing a procedure to safeguard victim privacy. Even so, there was a sharp split in
the way the majority and minority opinions balanced the competing interests. Without
rehearsing the differences between the procedures adopted by the two, it is fair to say that Chief
Justice Lamer and Sopinka J. accepted that victim privacy should be protected, but accorded full
answer and defence a higher priority; as a result, the joint opinion set a lower threshold for
access to the evidence.
76 Unlike the dissent, their joint opinion did not mention the equality
rights of complainants, and rejected its suggestion that there should be a presumption in favour
of privacy.
Meanwhile, though Madam Justice L’Heureux Dubé’s dissent also balanced those
interests, her solution was based on the
Dagenais principle of equality between rights. She
invoked the Chief Justice’s warning in
Dagenais, that “the court must exercise its discretion in a
manner that is respectful of
Charter values, ”77 and stated that any production order in favour of
the accused must balance
Charter rights to ensure that any adverse effects on one right are
proportionate to the salutary benefits for the other.
78 At that point, she had not yet established
that victim privacy
is protected by the Charter. Before addressing that question, L’Heureux
Dubé J. commented on the scope of full answer and defence. From her perspective, the right
could not be considered “in the abstract”; moreover, fairness must be considered, not only from
the accused’s point of view, but that of the complainant and the community as well.
79 In the
specific terms of the case, she indicated that the rights of the defendant could not be “so broad as
to grant the defence a fishing licence into the personal and private lives of others.”
Full answer and defence might not be absolute, but that still did not explain or address the
Charter status of the complainant’s records. To articulate a right based on privacy, it became
necessary for L’Heureux Dubé J. to piece together the Supreme Court’s scattered comments on
the subject. Thus she explained that, at the level of generality, the Court had “on many occasions
recognized the great value of privacy in our society”, and had “expressed sympathy for the
proposition that s.7 of the
Charter includes a right of privacy”.81 For instance, Wilson J.’s
concurring opinion in
R. v. Morgentaler stated the view that s.7 guarantees “a degree of personal
autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting their private lives.”
82 Moreover, as
noted earlier in this Chapter, Lamer J.’s dissent in
R. v. Mills included privacy in s.7 of the
Charter, via s.11(b). There, he commented on the “stigmatization, loss of privacy, stress and
anxiety” an accused might suffer, along with disruption of family, social life and work, costs and
uncertainty when his trial was unreasonably delayed.
83 In L’Heureux Dubé J.’s view,
substituting the word “complainant” for the word “accused” resulted in “an excellent description
of the psychological traumas potentially faced by sexual assault complainants.”
Drawing that analogy between the complainant and the accused enabled her to
incorporate s.8’s reasonable expectation of privacy into s.7’s entitlements of liberty and security
of the person. Her reasoning was that having to produce counselling and therapeutic records is
compelled production and a form of search; yet respect for privacy is “an essential component of
what it means to be free”, and the infringement of that right undeniably “impinges upon an
individual’s liberty.”
85 When private records are revealed, “it is an invasion of the dignity a nd
self-worth of the individual,
who enjoys the right to privacy as an essential aspect of his or her
liberty in a free and democratic society
.”86 In her view, it followed that the reasonable
expectation of privacy that is guaranteed by s.8 is worthy of pr otection under s.7.
That, briefly, is how Madam Justice L’Heureux Dubé established a right of victim
privacy for complainants. Perhaps to strengthen the textual connection, she included a
discussion of s.15’s guarantee of equality. Thus she concluded, not only that “a privacy analysis
creates a presumption against ordering production of private records, but also that ample and
meaningful consideration must be given to complainants’ equality rights.”
88 In this way she
made the link between the myths and stereotypes discussed in
Seaboyer and victim rights
explicit. As embodied in evidentiary rules both at common law and under the
Code, assumptions
that were discriminatory played a “pernicious role” in the system.
89 Bluntly put, “uninhibited
disclosure of complainants’ private lives indulges the discriminatory suspicion that women and
children’s reports of sexual victimization are uniquely likely to be fabricated.”
90 L’Heureux
Dubé J.’s dissent in
O’Connor admonished that the Court should be careful not to permit such
practices to reappear under the guise of “extensive and unwarranted inquiries into the past
histories and
private lives of complainants of sexual assault.”91 Applied to the facts of the case,
it meant that the accused should not have ready access to third party records; that would create
indirect access to the same evidence to which direct access had been prohibited by the rape –
shield provision and other reforms which sought to erase the discriminatory assumptions of the
past. In her view, it would be a mistake to “close one discriminatory door only to open
Returning again to Dagenais, L’Heureux Dubé J. stated that “[a]s important as the right
to full answer and defence may be, it must co -exist with other constitutional rights, rather than
trample them.”
93 Without mincing words, she declared that “[p]rivacy and equality must not be
sacrificed willy-nilly on the altar of trial fairness”.
94 Instead, the Charter required a balance
“that places the
Charter rights of complainants on an equal footing with those of accused
O’Connor was decided by a five to four majority at a time when Charter protection for
the rights of the accused was strong. The majority opinion balanced the competing interests but
concluded, ultimately, that victim privacy must defer to the accused’s rights. Following the
decision in
O’Connor, Parliament enacted Bill C-46, a mini-code of procedure that regulates
defence access to this evidence and which, in doing so, substantially endorsed the dissenting
opinion in
O’Connor. In such circumstances, it was inevitable that the accused would challenge
Bill C-46’s breach of his rights under the
Charter. Less inevitable was the outcome in R. v.
. There, the Supreme Court of Canada effectively abandoned O’Connor to avoid
invalidating parts of the mini code which were inconsistent with its majority opinion in that case.
R. v. Mills96
The Supreme Court’s decision in R. v. Mills is significant for several reasons, many of
which are not of immediate concern here. There, the Supreme Court concluded that the
protects the privacy and equality rights of sexual assault victims, and upheld Bill C-46. Prior to
Mills, the complainants’ rights had been promoted, mainly, in dissenting opinions by Madam
Justice L’Heureux Dubé J. In addition to
O’Connor, she explained in (L.L.) v. (B.(A.) why
balancing the rights of the accused and the complainants under the
Charter was a “better
approach” than a case-by-case privilege for the private records of sexual assault complainants.
Citing the Dagenais principle that fair trial should not have pre-eminence over “other
constitutionally protected rights”, she re-iterated her commitment to a procedure that placed “the
Charter rights of complainants on an equal footing with those of accused persons.”98
Subsequently, a majority held in R. v. Carosella that a sexual assault crisis centre’s destruction of
records and non-disclosure to the accused resulted in a breach of his right of full answer and
99 Once again in dissent, L’Heureux Dubé J. strenuously resisted the suggestion that the
crisis centre had any obligation to preserve evidence, which she regarded as private in nature, for
the benefit of the accused’s defence.
L.(L) v. B.(A.) and Carosella were decided by contentious five to four margins, it
should not be forgotten that, in
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson), the Supreme Court
recognized that victim privacy could justify an exception to the open court principle.
100 Another
decision, in
M (A.) v. Ryan, should also be noted.101 Ryan concerned the disclosure of
counselling records in a civil suit arising from a psychiatrist’s sexual misconduct with a young
woman. In concluding that a privilege could attach to the plaintiff’s psychiatric records,
McLachlin J. referred to “the law’s increasing concern with the wrongs perpetrated by sexual
abuse and the serious effect such abuse has on the health and productivity of the many members
of our society it victimizes.”
102 Significantly, she stated that Charter values, including s.8’s
interest in privacy and s.15’s guarantee of equality, were relevant to the question of privilege. In
doing so, she explained why sexual assault has distinctive implications for privacy and equality:
The intimate nature of sexual assault heightens the privacy concerns of the victim
and may increase, if automatic disclosure is the rule, the difficulty of obtaining
redress for the wrong. The victim of a sexual assault is thus placed in a
disadvantaged position as compared with the victim of a different wrong. The
result may be that the victim of sexual assault does not obtain the equal benefit of
the law to which s.15 of the
Charter entitles her. She is doubly victimized,
initially by the sexual assault and later by the price she must pay to claim redress –
redress which in some cases may be part of her program of therapy.
As to Bill C-46, it is clear that Parliament’s mini-code was designed to override the
majority opinion in
O’Connor and thereby enhance protection for vict im privacy. Not only was
the legislation inconsistent in many respects with the decision in
O’Connor, its preamble
explicitly endorsed the
Charter rights of victims, their rights to security of the person, privacy,
and the equal benefit of the law, and expressed concerns about the problems associated with the
reporting and prosecution of sexual offences. All told, Bill C-46 left little doubt of the impact of
L’Heureux Dubé J.’s dissenting opinions in
Seaboyer and O’Connor. Its detailed provisions
followed the lead of the
O’Connor dissent in prescribing rules and procedures to limit defence
access to private records in sexual assault proceedings.
How the Court rationalized its decision in
Mills to uphold legislation, which effectively
reversed its interpretation of the
Charter in O’Connor, is one matter, and what the majority
opinion said about the privacy and equality rights of complainants is another. By adopting the
O’Connor dissent’s privacy and equality analysis, the joint opinion authored by Just ices
McLachlin and Iacobucci converted it to binding precedent.
As noted above, the
O’Connor dissent applied the Dagenais presumption against
hierarchies between rights to establish victim privacy and then endow it with the same
status as the rights of the accused. Likewise, the joint opinion in Mills endorsed the principle of
co-equal rights. At the outset, Justices McLachlin and Iacobucci cited
Dagenais for its rejection
of a “hierarchical approach” to the question of competing interests: “[o]n the one hand stands
the accused’s right to make full answer and defence”; on the other hand “stands the
complainant’s and the witness’s right to privacy.”
104 In such circumstances, they held that
“[n]either right may be defined in such a way as to ne gate the other” and both sets of rights “are
informed by the equality rights at play in this context.”
105 Signalling the Court’s willingness to
retreat, the joint opinion further stated that, “it is important to keep in mind that the decision in
O’Connor is not necessarily the last word on the subject.”106 To emphasize the status of
complainants, the judges re-iterated a second time that under s.7, “the rights of full answer and
defence, and privacy, must be defined in light of each other” and “both must be d efined in light
of the equality provisions of s.15.”
As they prepared to address the rights at stake, the judges admonished, once more, that
“[n]o single principle is absolute and capable of trumping the other.”
108 As for full answer and
defence, Mills explained that s.7 does not guarantee the most favourable procedures imaginable,
because fundamental justice “embraces more than the rights of the accused.”
109 Specifically,
McLachlin and Iacobucci JJ. indicated that the ability to make full answer and de fence is subject
to “other principles of fundamental justice which may embrace interests and perspectives beyond
those of the accused.”
110 In their opinion, the accused’s rights are not “automatically breached”
when he is deprived of relevant information.
Following the pattern of the O’Connor dissent, the joint opinion in Mills strongly
endorsed the privacy and equality rights of complainants in sexual assault proceedings. Absent
any textual guarantee of privacy, the judges found that an order for the pr oduction of records
under the
Code fell within the ambit of s.8’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
After emphasizing the importance of informational privacy and the confidentiality of the
therapeutic relationship, McLachlin and Iacobucci JJ. linked those concerns to s. 7’s guarantee of
security of the person, in these terms:
Counselling helps an individual to recover from his or her trauma. Even the
possibility that this confidentiality may be breached affects the therapeutic
relationship. Furthermore, it can reduce the complainant’s willingness to report
crime or deter him or her from counselling altogether. In our view, such concerns
indicate that the protection of the therapeutic relationship protects the mental
integrity of complainants and witnesses. … Therefore, in cases where a therapeutic
relationship is threatened by the disclosure of private records, security of the
person and not just privacy is implicated.
The relationship between ss.8 and 7 that emerged in Mills is this. Section 8 protects a person’s
privacy and, in doing so, it addresses a particular application of the principles of fundamental
justice. Under that reasoning, a search or seizure can only be consistent with the principles of
fundamental justice when it is reasonable, and it will only be reasonable when it “accommodates
both the accused’s right to make full answer and defence and the complainant’s privacy right.”
As they had in the O’Connor dissent, equality rights provided an added dimension to the
balancing of interests in
Mills. There, the joint opinion made it clear that “an appreciation of the
myths and stereotypes in the context of sexual violence” is essential in defining the scope of full
answer and defence.
As has frequently been noted, speculative myths, stereotypes, and generalized
assumptions about sexual assault victims and classes of records have too often in
the past hindered the search for truth and imposed harsh and irrelevant burdens on
complainants in prosecutions of sexual offences…. The myths that a woman’s
testimony is unreliable unless she made a complaint shortly after the event (recent
complaint), or if she has had previous sexual relations, are but two of the more
notorious examples of the speculation that in the past has passed for truth in this
difficult area of human behaviour and the law. The notion that consultation with
a psychiatrist is, by itself, an indication of untrustworthiness is a more recent, but
equally invidious, example of such a myth. The purpose [ of this mini code] is to

prevent these and other myths from forming the entire basis of an otherwise
unsubstantiated order for production of private records.
The Court also stated that the accused would not be permitted to “‘whack the complainant’
through the use of sexual stereotypes regarding the victims of sexual assault.”
116 To that end, the
task of balancing privacy and full answer and defence could not be undertaken “in a manner that
fully respects the privacy interests of complainants,” without an “appreciation of the equality
dimensions of records production.”
117 In summary of the Court’s reasoning, the non-disclosure
of third party records with a high privacy interest that might contain relevant evidence will not
compromise trial fairness where such non-disclosure would not prejudice the accused’s right to
full answer and defence.
Mills upheld legislation that contradicted one of the Court’s majority opinions
interpreting the
Charter. In doing so, Mills gave constitutional sanction to Criminal Code
provisions that unquestionably promoted the rights of complainants in sexual assault
proceedings. As a matter of principle, the most significant aspect of the decision is the Court’s
adoption of victim privacy as a s.7 entitlement equal to the accused’s right of full answer and
defence. Subsequent decisions, including
R. v. Darrach,119 R. v. Ewanchuk, 120 and R. v.
121 should be noted too, as each confirms the Court’s vigilance in rectifying the
unfairnesses that are perceived to this day as persisting in the law of sexual offences. In
R. v.
, for instance, the Court unanimously upheld s.276 of the Criminal Code, which
essentially codified the
Seaboyer guidelines restricting the accused’s scope of cross-examination
of complainants in sexual assault cases. Though neither addressed victim privacy,
R. v.
and R. v. Regan confirm the Court’s ongoing concern about the “disadvantage that
women victims have suffered as a result of stereotypes in society and the justice system.”
Chapter Two’s discussion of the open court principle provides one example of the way
the criminal justice system has accommodated the privacy interests of crime victims in recent
years. Yet as developments in the law relating to sexual assault de monstrate, it may not be the
most prominent example. Though this study is focused on the relationship between open court
and victim privacy, it would be a mistake to neglect the emergence of victim privacy in the
context of the accused’s right to a full answer and defence. One reason is that although rates of
reporting and conviction for several offences are low, the precise causes of that problem have not
been isolated. For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to anonymity, victims of these
crimes have not been confident that their complaints would be fairly treated. From that
perspective, tracing the evolution of a right of victim privacy beyond the issues at stake under the
open court principle forms an important part of this study.
This Chapter has shown that, especially in sexual assault proceedings, privacy is an issue
for complainants at various stages of the process. It is not limited to the exposure of identity or
of the details of a sexual encounter that are threatened by the open court principle. Complainant
privacy has been asserted in answer to rules of evidence which permitted counsel for the defence
to probe a victim’s past sexual history or gain access to third party therapeutic and counselling

records. These strategies are an aspect of full answer and defence which are aimed at uncovering
information that may be unrelated to the charge but relevant in some way to the complainant’s
credibility. The Supreme Court of Canada has now concluded that these rules and practices are a
breach of privacy whose prohibition does not impermissibly violate the accused’s right to make
full answer and defence.
Purely as an exercise in the evolution of law, the transformation of the concept of privacy
that was traced in this Chapter is noteworthy. From its foundation in s.8, the investigative
process, and the rights of the accused, privacy became an entitlement belonging to the victims of
sexual offences. Although the
Charter does not explicitly protect privacy, this development
occurred when unfairness in the rules of evidence was linked to the privacy of complainants, and
to the
Charter’s guarantee of equality. From the dissents in Seaboyer and O’Connor to the
majority opinion in
Mills, it did not take long for a right of privacy to emerg e.
In terms of the focus of this study, the relationship between the privacy rights discussed
in Chapters Two and Three is this. Under reporting has been a chronic problem in the law of
sexual offences for many years, and it is unquestionably linked to perceptions that the system
will re-victimize those who make a complaint. Privacy is consistently mentioned as a concern,
and as one of the reasons, complainants give for not reporting an offence or pressing a charge. It
is not only the defendant’s right to cross-examine the complainant, but the fact that the criminal
process ordinarily takes place in open court; the combination of the two compounded the
invasion of privacy in the past. At present, though, the jurisprudence does not consider how
these elements of privacy interact; in particular, there is no indication whether anonymity and
open proceedings would raise the same concerns about privacy in a system that removed the
discriminatory beliefs and stigma which attached to sexual offences in the pas t. More will be
said about this in Chapter Five. For now, the point is that if the precise cause of low rates of
reporting, prosecution and conviction cannot be pinpointed, at the least it is known that privacy
is one of the factors that discourages comp lainants from coming forward.
As well, the emergence of a privacy right in Chapter Three’s trilogy of cases provides a
jurisprudential context and analogy for privacy in the open court context. At the time,
Newspapers v. Canada (A.G.)
was decided, the Supreme Court did not base its decision on
victim privacy. By granting victim privacy
Charter status, the O’Connor dissent and Mills
decision may affect the balancing of interests the next time privacy and open court are in
conflict. At the same time, some words of qualification should be added. Privacy emerged as an
entitlement in Chapter Three’s trilogy, in response to a history of discriminatory practices.
Sexual offences were different, and were subject to rules of evidence that were based o n myths
and stereotypes which discriminated against complainants and violated their privacy. As a
Seaboyer, O’Connor and Mills are part of a judicial and legislative process which is aimed
at rectifying this blot on the criminal justice system. To summarize, the privacy of several
assault victims was uniquely violated and now must be restored.
The above analysis is not as compelling in the open court setting. To the extent their
identity and privacy are protected by
Criminal Code provisions, sexual assault complainants are
granted preferential or special treatment by the system. Whatever the consequences for their

privacy, the victims of other crimes are not entitled to a publication ban protecting their identity,
and persuading a judge to close the courtroom in the interest of privacy would be even more
difficult. That raises the question whether sexual offences are by their nature different, and
therefore subject to distinctive rules for the benefit of victim privacy. Another way of putting the
question is to ask whether victim privacy in this area is a short -term remedy for the myths and
stereotypes of the past, or whether these offences warrant permanent exceptions to the open court
principle. Before pursuing that question in Chapter Five, the next Chapter explores comparative,
transnational and international perspectives on these issues.

Chapter Four
Comparative, transnational and international perspectives
This Chapter on comparative, transnational and international perspectives is necessarily
impressionistic. Generally, the movement to establish rights for the victims of crime in Canada
is reflected in developments around the world. Many countries have endorsed bills of rights,
charters, and declarations which are a imed at improving the status of victims. As well, statutory
measures have addressed their many grievances, granted them rights of participation in the
criminal justice system, and provided access to compensation or restitution. Internationally, the
rights of victims have been recognized by the United Nations, and are reflected in the procedures
adopted by the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Though privacy is an issue for the victims of crime, it is not a dominant concern.
Parallels to the issues and developments canvassed in Chapters Two and Three above can be
found, however, in the law relating to sexual offences. Even so, the non -domestic materials on
victim privacy and open court are uneven and asymmetrical. Jurisdictions, which differ
fundamentally in their conception of criminal justice, approach these issues from distinctive
perspectives. For that reason, and also due to gaps in the information, the discussion in this

Chapter can only offer a bare survey on the status of victims in legal syst
civilian or inquisitorial in nature.
ems which are either

From a comparative perspective, Canada stands between the common law tradition of
Britain and other commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand, and the
constitutional tradition of the United States. Developments in commonwealth jurisdictions which
lack a regime of constitutional rights are statutory in nature. To the extent privacy was not
recognized, traditionally, as a valid basis for derogating from openness, that position has been
altered by legislation. As a result, changes to Canada’s
Criminal Code, which deal with victim
anonymity as well as with privacy and confidentiality in sexual assault proceedings, can be
found elsewhere, albeit with local variations.
Meanwhile, by emp owering the courts to invalidate statutory provisions and court orders
inconsistent with the open court principle, the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms changed the way
those issues are analyzed. Canada’s constitutionalization of that principle renders the American
experience instructive; while there are points of difference between the two countries, there are
similarities, too. For instance, parallels to
Charter guarantees are found in the First Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press, and the Sixth Amendment,
which protects a public trial.
1 Much like the Charter, the American Bill of Rights fails to
include any right of privacy. At the same time, privacy interests have been granted constitutional


protection. Even so, and in deference to the First Amendment and the principle of
accountability, the U.S. jurisprudence has struck a different balance, one which is reluctant to
permit exceptions to the open court that would protect the privacy of victims. The question the
American jurisprudence raises is whether the Charter’s interpretation will evolve in that

direction and adopt an uncompromising commitment to open court; otherwise, the Supreme
Court of Canada might continue to treat victim privacy as the co -equal of other
Charter rights,
including s.2(b) and its protection of open court.
The discussion begins by outlining key points of comparison between common law and
non-common law systems of criminal justice. It is followed by an account which identifies the
general elements of statutory protection for victim privacy in the United Kingdom, Australia, and
New Zealand. The Third part of the Chapter explores the relationship between the open court
principle and victim privacy under the U.S. Constitution.
1. Non common law jurisdictions
The rise of victims’ rights movements in the United States prompted interest in
comparative analysis. For these and perhaps other reasons, there is a secondary literature in the
English language which describes, reviews and analyzes deve lopments in other legal systems.
Yet this literature is more scattershot than systematic, and the information that is drawn from it
does not provide a complete picture. Moreover, articles discussing the role of victims in
European and socialist systems ar e only tangentially concerned with privacy issues. As well, it
should be noted that civilian and inquisitorial models of criminal justice rest on assumptions and
procedures which differ, fundamentally, from those that describe common law jurisdictions.
At least historically, an adversarial conception of the criminal trial treated victims and
witnesses, essentially, as outsiders rather than as participants. Vindicating their interests was not
the central objective of the trial, and their stake in the o utcome was secondary to that of the state
and the notional community at large. By contrast, legal systems, which do not subscribe to a
bipolar model of criminal justice, are not required, by their underlying assumptions, to minimize
the victim’s role or e xclude that person from the process. In Russia, for example, the victim not
only has rights, but actively participates in the criminal trial. This includes the right to question
witnesses and the accused. One author reports witnessing trials “where the ro le of the victim was
to frequently interrupt with shouted accusations that had no role in a ‘fair’ criminal trial.”
At least in Europe, one of three models for victim participation will generally be found.
In some jurisdictions, the victim has the righ t to prosecute the crime or participate, to some
degree, in the prosecution.
3 One form of participation, which is examined further below, enables
the victim to serve as a subsidiary or supporting prosecutor. Otherwise, in countries which
include France, the victim may present a
civil claim in the course of a criminal proceeding. Such
a claim is termed a
partie civille or, in jurisdictions with a German legal tradition, may be
designated as “adhesive” in nature.
4 Finally, some countries treat the victim, effectively, as a
witness and no more.
5 Though it strays from the subject of victim privacy and open court, a brief
discussion of Germany’s
Nebenklage process follows, for it demonstrates a conception of the
victim that is quite foreign to common law sys tems. It is of particular interest that the
Nebenklagerin, or subsidiary prosecutor, can invoke the process when the crime which has been
committed is a sexual offence.

Roughly, Nebenklagerin means “secondary accuser” or subsidiary prosecutor. 6 The
procedure known as
Nebenklage permits victims to participate through counsel at trial on nearly
equal footing with lawyers for the state and the defense. Note, parenthetically, how

unprecedented it was, in Chapter Three, for the Supreme Court of Canada to agree that the
privacy rights of complainants are on a par with the rights of the accused. The question there
arose in the limited context of rules of evidence and the defendant’s access to information about
the complainant. From that perspective, it is cl ear that Nebenklage contemplates a more

innovative process, in which the victim is an active participant throughout the criminal process,
including the investigative stages of proceedings. In this it is interesting that the Federal
Constitutional Court re jected a challenge to the institution of the victim -plaintiff, which was
raised on the ground that the procedure interfered with the rights of criminal defendants. This
result reinforces the point that civilian systems can treat the victim as a party to t he proceedings
without upsetting the contest mentality that defines criminal justice in common law systems.
Nebenklagerin is entitled to participate at the investigative stage. Not only is the
victim and his or her lawyer granted access to the inve stigatory files of the police and the
prosecutor, the victim’s interest in participating in pre -trial proceedings is recognized in other
ways. The victim-plaintiff is entitled to be present throughout the trial, and may ask questions at
trial through a la wyer. Counsel for the victim is also permitted to make a closing statement, but
in doing so generally does not address the question of sentence.
Nebenklage has been a part of German criminal procedure since 1877, major
reforms expanded the cate gory of crimes in which the victim was entitled to participate as a

secondary accuser. As they might not otherwise be prosecuted,
aimed at and reserved for more minor offences. Then in 1986 the
Nebenklage was originally
Victim Protection Law

extended the victim’s direct participation to crimes considered particularly serious, and victim –
plaintiff status is “now seen as an opportunity for injured parties thought to be particularly
worthy of protection to pursue justice on their own behalf”.
7 Significantly , the 1986 legislation
added sexual assault to the list of crimes that are eligible for
Though the procedure is invoked by victims in a relatively small number of cases, the
exception to this is sexual offences, where there has been a conside rable increase in the
percentage of victims who participate as secondary accusers. These victims may seek their own
legal representation “due to the highly personal and demeaning nature of the crime, as well as the
nature of such trials, where it is not u nusual for the character or reputation of the victim to come
under attack”.
8 In the circumstances, the decision to include sexual assault in the reform statute
of 1986 was an important recognition of the special problems these victims face in court.
Victim-plaintiffs who invoke this status are visible participants in the trial of the
defendant. Though it is their choice to be active in the process, doing so does not mean that their
privacy must be sacrificed. Whether as victim or as victim -plaintiff, the complainant in a sexual
assault case may apply to exclude the public during her testimony. The request will normally be
granted unless the public’s interest in hearing the testimony outweighs the interest of the victim.
This brief discussion does not offer an evaluation of Nebenklage or other variations on
the role and status of the victim in jurisdictions which are not based on the common law
assumption of a two party contest between the state and the accused. It does illustrate, however,
that victims
are granted rights of participation, in varying degrees, in other legal systems. In the
common law world, extending rights and powers to the victims of crimes would undoubtedly be
resisted on the ground that such changes would upset the balance of th e criminal justice system
and disadvantage or even create unfairness for the accused. Such concerns are a familiar theme
in the American literature. The comparative point here is that the Supreme Court of Canada’s
recognition of victim privacy in Chapter Three is, alongside Germany’s
Nebenklage, a modest
development. Though the rights of victims have gained a foothold in common law systems,
those who are the victims of crime are still regarded as third parties. Changing that status and
granting victims a stronger role in the proceedings would require a re -conceptualization of the
criminal trial at common law.
Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand
The overview of common law jurisdictions which follows is more focused on privacy
and, in particular, the anonymity of sexual assault victims. Albeit with local variations,
protecting the identity of these victims can be described as a widely accepted statutory exception
to the open court principle in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. In none of these
countries is there a system of constitutional rights analogous to that either of Canada or the
United States. For that reason there is little jurisprudence on the question of open court versus
victim privacy. The statutory provisions state the law, and although questions of application may
arise, the law itself cannot be challenged in court.
As noted in Chapter Two, the open court principle is a common law concept which finds
its roots in a long -standing tradition of British justice. Though exce ptions to publicity and open
courts were recognized at common law, victim privacy was not among them.
10 Thus in Britain,
“where the tabloid newspapers give huge coverage to sexual offences”, any woman “could count
on the whole country knowing who she was and what had been done to her”.
11 In due course,
this was “too nauseating for even English public taste”
12 and in 1976 Parliament passed a law
which made it an offence to disclose a rape victim’s identity.
Gaps in the law quickly became apparent, howeve r. The statutory ban did not apply until
a person had been accused, which meant that the victim could be identified up until her attacker
became known. In one case, a newspaper ran a photo of a clergyman’s daughter attending
church, not long after she ha d been raped in her father’s vicarage by burglars.
14 She could be
identified under the then existing provision because the gang of burglars was still at large. The
law was soon amended to protect the victim’s identity from the time the commission of an
offence is reported.
15 Second, the ban initially applied only to those who are victims of rape, and
has now been amended to include the victims of other offences, such as buggery, indecent
assault, and incest.
In addition to the distinctive statutory measu res that protect victims of sexual offences,
legislation permits the court to prohibit the identification of a child.
17 The victims of other
offences are occasionally protected by a judge’s discretionary power to forbid the publication of

an individual’s identity. At common law, the court has a general power to order that a name be
withheld; this kind of order is often considered appropriate, for example, in a blackmail case.
More generally, it appears that the advent of victims’ rights is relatively re cent in
Britain. The
Victim’s Charter, released in 1990, confers no rights or privileges but merely lists
the ways in which the criminal justice system “ought” to be sensitive to the victim’s position.
Though there has been “an enormous growth of new po licies and provision for victims and
witnesses in the U.K.”, progress is slow.
20 For example, fear of aggressive, humiliating and
irrelevant questioning in court has been cited as the largest single factor in prompting women to
withdraw complaints of sexua l offences.
21 As of 1997, the conviction rate for rape was in
decline, despite s.2 of the
Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, which introduced a rape -shield
provision broadly akin to the measure considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in
R. v.
One of the reasons the British law is perceived to be a failure is that cross -examination on
a complainant’s sexual history is within the discretion of the judge. In the circumstances,
witnesses can never be sure, in advance of trial, whether they will fa ce humiliating and intimate
questions about their personal lives. A similar issue was discussed in Chapter Two’s analysis of
Criminal Code’s mandatory ban on victim identification. There, Canada’s Supreme Court
held that a discretionary ban was inade quate to provide victims the protection they sought in
deciding whether to report an offence. Likewise, Canada has adopted statutory provisions which
severely limit the accused’s freedom to question complainants about their past sexual history.
Meanwhile, as occurred elsewhere, concern for the victims of crime rose in Australia too,
and inquiries were commissioned to report on their status in the criminal justice process during
the 1980s. As a result, all state governments issued declarations or char ters of victims’ rights.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that, like Canada and the United States, Australia is a
federation. Though the federal government has jurisdiction over the criminal law in Canada, it is
the reverse both in Australia and the United States, where the states have that authority. Instead
of one system of criminal law that is national in scope, these countries have a number of systems
which function independently of each other. In any case, without creating entitlements for
victims or enforceable duties on others, these “charters” provide guidelines for the treatment of
victims. Typically, these instruments state that victims should be treated with courtesy and
compassion and with respect for their dignity; that victims should be kept informed, at various
stages and about various elements of the process; and that the privacy of victims should be
24 For instance, the Victims Rights Act of New South Wales provides, as do others, that
a victim’s residential address and tel ephone number should not be disclosed unless a court
otherwise directs.
In addition, there are statutes which address the problems of law enforcement of sexual
offences. Like Canada, Australia has broadened the scope of sexual assault and debated the
question of consent. As well, all states have adopted special rules to limit the cross -examination
of victims on their prior sexual history.
26 For instance, Queensland’s Criminal Law (Sexual
Offences) Act
not only prohibits evidence of the complainant’s re putation and prior sexual
27 it requires the public to be excluded from the courtroom during the complainant’s
testimony.28 Likewise, the statute places a mandatory ban on the publication of any information
which might identify the complainant, unle ss the court, “for good and sufficient reasons shown”,
orders to the contrary.
29 Interestingly, s.7 of the Act also prohibits the publication of information
which would identify the defendant prematurely.

New Zealand’s response is consistent with develo pments in Britain and Australia.
There, too, statutory measures prohibit the publication of names in specified sexual offences, and
permits a ban on the publication of names in certain other circumstances. Otherwise, there is
some case law in New Zealand on the question whether and when name suppression is

appropriate for an accused. In R. v. Liddell, which is a leading case, the court held that the
privacy interests of the offender’s family rarely justify an order suppressing disclosure of his
31 In considering the statutory powers to prohibit the publication of names, the court
said that, “the starting point must always be the importance in a democracy of freedom of
speech, open judicial proceedings, and the right of the media to report the lat ter fairly”.
32 Citing
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta, the court also noted that those principles may be seen in “vigorous
– and, to some, even startling – operation in the Supreme Court of Canada….”
33 In the
circumstances, the New Zealand appellate court wa s reluctant to concede too much to the
privacy interests of the offender’s wife and two children. As the court observed:
But anguish to the innocent family of an offender is an inevitable result of many
convictions for serious crime. Only in an extraordinary case could it outweigh, in
relation to the reporting of the name of a person convicted of a serious crime, the
general principle of open justice and the open reporting of justice.
To summarize, each of Britain, Australia and New Zealand has taken steps, by statutory
enactment, to protect the identity of sexual assault victims. In addition, other systemic law
enforcement problems in this area have been addressed through modification to the definition of
the offence, as well as to the rules of evid ence which govern the cross -examination of
complainants. In the absence of any constitutional guarantee of expressive or press freedom, the
protection of victim identity has been relatively uncontroversial in these countries. By contrast,
publication ban s are virtually unavailable in the United States, and access to the courts is
likewise given strong protection by the U.S. Constitution.
The United States of America
As in post-Charter Canada, the resolution of these issues in the United States is governed
by constitutional considerations. By way of introduction, a few points of information about U.S.
constitutionalism may help to set the discussion in perspective. It is useful to know, for example,
that different rules of federalism apply to the systems of criminal justice in Canada and the
United States. By virtue of s.91(27), the
Constitution Act, 1867 grants Canada’s federal
government authority over the criminal law and criminal procedure
 35 As a result, the Criminal
and other cri minal law statutes enacted by the federal government apply in all parts of the

By contrast, the American Constitution does not grant the U.S. government a similar
criminal law power. Under their model of federalism, all powers not expressly de legated to the
national government by the Constitution are reserved to the states. The states’ plenary authority
over all else that is not granted to the national government is referred to, in the American
constitutional tradition, as the “police power.” To compare, there is one system of criminal
justice in Canada, but fifty – plus one – in the United States: one for each of the states, as well as
one that is federal in nature. That feature of U.S. federalism makes it cumbersome to review
statutory prov isions on open court which govern in fifty jurisdictions. Some uniformity on
questions of open court and victim privacy is achieved, however, through constitutional

interpretation, as state laws which violate the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendm
guarantees of free speech and a free press, are unconstitutional.
Like s.2(b) of Canada’s Charter, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. 36 Unlike the Charter, though, the

American Bill of Rights has no provision like s.1, which permits limits on rights to accommodate
democratic values. Though rights are not absolute and are subject to judge -made limits, the First
Amendment has been granted strong protection by the U.S. Supreme Court. A n example, which
affects the open court principle, is the presumption against publication bans, which is deeply
entrenched in the American jurisprudence. A ban on the publication of information is a form of
prior restraint and, as such, is regarded as a particularly insidious form of censorship. Banning
publication halts expressive activity in advance, before it is known whether it will have harmful
effects or consequences. Meantime, the
Charter case law has not yet adopted a similar
presumption against such bans: while some have been invalidated under the
Charter, others have
been upheld.
37 The discussion below demonstrates how difficult it is to sustain a publication ban
under the First Amendment.
In addition, the balancing of values that takes place under the
Charter does not occur in
the same way under the First Amendment. That is, in part, because the U.S. text has no
limitations clause and, in part, because the First Amendment itself is framed in the language of
an absolute guarantee. Culturally and historically, it has been considered the first freedom or the
“matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of [freedom].”
38 As important a
value as it may be, privacy does not have the same status as freedom of speech or the press.
Though it, like its Canadian counterpart, has been granted a measure of recognition in the
jurisprudence, it is not explicitly protected by the constitutional text.
39 Ironically, a civil right of
action for the invasion of privacy exists in all U.S. stat es, and has generated a considerable tort
jurisprudence. In Canada, where the Supreme Court has been sympathetic to victim privacy in
criminal proceedings, it is more difficult to bring a civil action for the invasion of privacy.
Under the Charter, however, our Court has protected the privacy of crime victims and placed the
privacy of complainants in sexual assault proceedings on the same plane as the rights of the
accused. By contrast, in the United States, the First Amendment has consistently prevaile d over
privacy on open court issues.

Publicity versus anonymity
In contrast to Canada, where the Supreme Court upheld a mandatory ban on victim
identity in
Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (A.G.), the U.S. Supreme Court has favoured the
right to publish over an individual’s freedom from unwanted publicity. In each of four cases
considered below, the American Court held that the press could not be held criminally or civilly
responsible for disclosing an individual’s identity. Two of the four cases,
Oklahoma Publishing
Co. v. Oklahoma County District Court
,41 and Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co.42, concerned
the identity of juveniles who were accused of criminal offences; each arose in the context of

statutory provisions which regulated the disclosure of a youth’s identity. Two others, Cox
Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn,43 and The Florida Star v. B.J.F.,44 raised the question whether the
press could be held civilly liable for disclosing the identity of a rape victim.
Certain principles emerge from this group of cases. First and foremost, the First

Amendment protects the press from being punished for publishing truthful information on a
question of interest to the public. Under that principle, and assuming that a victim or juvenile
offender is correctly identified, the only debating point is whether the information is of interest to
the public. Moreover, the press cannot be faulted for publishing information it obtained from the
state. If the press cannot be held accountable for disclosing information the s tate made available,
it follows that protecting a victim’s privacy is the state’s responsibility, and not that of the press.
Finally, the state has control of the information and has the power to protect a victim or a
juvenile’s identity: information is o nly publicized when the state fails to protect the individual’s
anonymity. In such circumstances, the victim’s remedy should be against the state, and not the
The first of the four,
Cox Broadcasting v. Cohn, is an influential decision. 45 There, the
U.S. Supreme Court held that a television station could not be held civilly liable for broadcasting
the name of a rape victim, which the reporter had obtained from the indictments against the
accused. The documents were public records and had been ma de available for inspection in the
courtroom. In addressing the competing interests, White J. observed that “the century has
experienced a strong tide running in favor of the so -called right of privacy”,
46 but also that the
privacy claim confronted the co nstitutional freedoms of speech and the press. Framed by those
considerations, the question was whether the state could impose sanctions for the accurate
publication of the name of a rape victim, obtained from records which were made open to public
Many years before LaForest J. would make similar comments in
C.B.C. v. New
Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)
, White J. acknowledged that “[g]reat responsibility is [] placed
upon the news media to report fully and accurately the proceedings of governmen t, and official
records and documents open to the public are the basic data of governmental operations.”
47 As
well, he indicated that, “even the prevailing law of invasion of privacy recognizes that the
interests in privacy fade when the information involv ed already appears on the public record.”
Mr. Justice White went on to surmise that the state must have concluded that the public interest
was being served by placing the information in the public domain on official court records. Such
records “by thei r very nature are of interest to those concerned with the administration of
government, and a public benefit is conferred by the reporting of the true contents of the records

by the media.”49 Not only was the press discharging its constitutional function, he concluded, in
doing so it conferred a benefit on the public. To encourage a rule that made public records
generally available and then forbade their publication would under this analysis make it difficult
for the media to inform citizens about the public business. The result would be to invite “timidity
and self-censorship”
50 on the part of the press.
Mr. Justice White’s opinion in
Cox Broadcasting made it clear that, in the American
jurisprudence, the conflict is between the press and the state, not th e press and the victim. He
explained that dynamic in the following terms:
If there are privacy interests to be protected in judicial proceedings, the States
must respond by means which avoid public documentation or other exposure of
private information. Their political institutions must weigh the interests in
privacy with the interests of the public to know and of the press to publish. Once
true information is disclosed in public court documents open to public inspection,
the press
cannot be sanctioned for publishing it. In this instance as in other
reliance must rest upon the judgment of those who decide what to publish or to
The next two decisions arose when members of the press published a juvenile offender’s
identity, contrary to statu tory provisions which prohibited disclosure. Although neither
addresses the issue of victim privacy, both entrenched the principles that were introduced by
. In the first, Oklahoma Publishing Co. v. Oklahoma District Court, the U.S.
Supreme Court struck down an order enjoining the press from publishing the name or picture of
the defendant.
52 There, a juvenile’s name, which was disclosed during a detention hearing, was
published by newspapers, as well as by radio and television stations. Subsequently, at the
accused’s arraignment hearing, the judge enjoined publication of his name and picture.
Although state legislation authorized the order, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it an
unconstitutional prior restraint.
In reaching that conc lusion, the Court relied on
Nebraska Press Assn v. Stuart, which,
one year earlier, placed strict limits on the availability of pre -trial publication bans.
53 The
principle from
Nebraska, that information disclosed in a public hearing cannot be the subject of a
prior restraint, was directly applicable in
Oklahoma Publishing. Cox Broadcasting also applied
because the juvenile’s name and picture were publicly revealed at the detention hearing, with the
full knowledge of the presiding judge, the prosecutor, an d the defence counsel. Despite the
state’s legislation, which required juvenile hearings to be held in private and permitted
restrictions on access to records, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “
Cox and Nebraska are
controlling nonetheless.”
54 It was a simp le matter of applying the rule from Nebraska Press, that
once a hearing is public the information disclosed cannot be subject to a prior restraint, and the
principle of
Cox Broadcasting, that the press cannot be punished for publishing truthful
information that is lawfully obtained.
Oklahoma Publishing was followed, within two years, by Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing
.55 On facts which were not entirely dissimilar, the Supreme Court arrived at the same
conclusion. Once again, newspapers and radio stati ons had published the name of a juvenile
who was arrested in connection with a shooting. West Virginia legislation prohibited the
publication of any juvenile offender’s name without the prior approval of the juvenile court. The
difference was that in
Daily Mail, indictments were returned against members of the press which
had violated the prohibition.
The Court found it unnecessary to decide whether the statutory provision was in itself a
prior restraint, for “state action to punish the publication of truthful information seldom can
satisfy constitutional standards.”
56 Neither Cox Broadcasting nor Oklahoma Publishing was
directly controlling, as in each case the government provided or made possible press access to
the information. In
Daily Mail, the juvenile’s identity was obtained through routine newspaper
reporting techniques. Though it recognized the connection between confidentiality and
rehabilitation, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the interest was not strong enough to support the
imposition of a criminal penalty.
Rehnquist J. disagreed with the Court’s analysis. In his view, a state’s interest in
preserving the anonymity of its juvenile offenders far outweighed any minimal interference with
freedom of the press that a ban on publication of y ouths’ names entailed. In discussing the right
to publish a juvenile’s name, he made the following remarks:
The press is free to describe the details of the offense and inform the community
of the proceedings against the juvenile.
It is difficult to understand how
publication of the youth’s name is in any way necessary to performance of the
press’ “watchdog” role
. In those rare instances where the press believes it is
necessary to publish the juvenile’s name [the law] permits the juvenile court judge
to allow publication. [That judge], unlike the press, is capable of determining
whether publishing the name of the particular young person will have a
deleterious effect on his chances for rehabilitation and adjustment to society’s
A question that is deferred for the moment to Chapter Five, is whether the name of an individual
is a relevant piece of information for purposes of the accountability principle, which is so central
to the concept of open court. Though he supported anonymity, Mr. Justice Rehnquist agreed in
the result because the legislation, in applying only to newspapers and not to the electronic media,
was incapable of accomplishing its objective and was therefore constitutionally flawed.
Though the outcome was more controversial than in
Cox Broadcasting , the Court held a
second time, in
The Florida Star v. B.J.F., that the press could not be held responsible, civilly,
for publishing the name of a rape victim.
59 Unlike the victim in Cox Broadcasting, the plaintiff
The Florida Star was not killed, and suffered some harassment following the publication of
her identity. Her name was published in violation of a Florida statute, in contravention of signs
posted in the pressroom which made it clear that the names of rape victims are not matters of
public record, and in violation of the newspaper’s own internal policy. Notwithstanding those
damaging facts, the key consideration for a majority of the Court was that the reporter obtained
the victim’s name from a police report which was plac ed in the Police Department’s press room.

While a majority held, in the circumstances, that the paper’s right to publish fell within the
principle of
Cox Broadcasting, three members of the Court dissented on the ground that the
earlier decision was “wholly distinguishable” and did not apply.
The question was whether the earlier trilogy of decisions –
Cox, Oklahoma Publishing,
and the
Daily Mail – were inapplicable, both because the information in the other cases had
appeared on a “public record”, and bec ause the privacy interests there were less profound than in
The Florida Star. Given that “press freedom and privacy rights are both ‘plainly rooted in the
traditions and significant concerns of our society’”, and the “sensitivity and significance of the
interests” presented in clashes between the two, the majority opinion by Marshall J. emphasized
the decision to rely on limited principles that would sweep no more broadly than the case at
In doing so, the Court synthesized three principles from th e trilogy: first, that the
government retained ample other means of safeguarding significant interests which might be
compromised by publicity, including a rape victim’s identity; second, that once the government
has made information publicly available, it is not only anomalous to sanction persons other than
the source, it is unlikely that a meaningful public interest is served by restricting its further
release; and third, that to threaten repercussions against those who relied on “the government’s
implied representation of the lawfulness of dissemination” would foster “timidity and self –
censorship” on the part of an uncertain press.
61 Applied to B.J.F.’s circumstances, and despite
the “tragic reality of rape”, the First Amendment protected the publication of truthful information
which was lawfully obtained. To mute the force of the dissent, however, the majority opinion
stressed the narrow and limited nature of its ruling:
We do not hold that truthful publication is automatically constitutionally
protected, or that there is no zone of personal privacy within which the State may
protect the individual from intrusion by the press, or even that a State may never
punish publication of the name of a victim of a sexual offense. We hold only that
where a newspaper publishes truthful information which is has lawfully obtained,
punishment may be lawfully imposed, if at all, only when narrowly tailored to a
state interest of the highest order….

The dissenting opinion of White J. began with a powerful reminder that “[s]hort of
homicide, rape is the ‘ultimate violation of self’”. 63 In his view, the trilogy cases were “wholly
distinguishable”; while the victim’s identity in
public, judicial records, according to the statute,
Cox Broadcasting was found by consulting
as well as police and press practice, the

information in The Florida Star was private rather than public. As for Oklahoma Publishing and
Daily Mail, White J. remarked that “[s]urely the right of those accused of crimes and those who
are their victims must differ with respect to privacy concerns.”
In disagreeing with the way the majority opinion struck the balance between competing
values, he found “a place to draw the line higher on the hillside”, a spot which, in his view, was
“high enough to protect B.J.F.’s desire for privacy and peace -of-mind in the wake of a horrible
personal tragedy.”
65 In stating that “there is no public interest in publishing the names,

misconduct of participants, and decisions based on secret bias or partiality.
70 In addition, the
presumption of openness inheres in the very nature of a criminal trial.” 69 Not only does
openness provide assurance that the proceedings are conducted fairly, it discourages perjury, the

addresses, and phone numbers of persons who are the victims of crime”, he agreed with the
views expressed by Rehnquist J. in
Daily Mail.66 Likewise, White J. could not understand what
public interest would be served in immunizing the press from liability in the rare cases where a
state’s efforts to protect a victim’s privacy had failed.
The principle that the government cannot punish the publication of truthful information
that is lawfully obtained is strongly entrenched in the American jurisprudence. In each of these
cases, the U.S. Supreme Court faulted the state for allowing the informati on to become public,
and then estopped the state from punishing members of the press, either by criminal or civil
means, for then publicizing it. In this, there is a significant difference between the Canadian and
American responses to the question of vic tim privacy in sexual assault proceedings. As Chapter
Two demonstrated, publication bans which protect the identity of victims are not only
permissible but mandatory under the
Criminal Code. In addition, there are different perceptions
of what is at stak e in the Canadian and American constitutional systems. In the American
tradition, publication bans are seen as a conflict between the state and the press, and less
emphasis is placed on the relationship between the victim and the press. By contrast, the
question in Canada is whether the state can mediate the competing interests of the press and the
victims of crime. Not only that, it is not unusual in Canada for information to be made available
at trial, on condition that it not be disclosed or published . For instance, it is routine to ban the
publication of evidence that is disclosed at the preliminary inquiry. The First Amendment
assumes differently, though, that once the state reveals information it cannot subsequently ban its
disclosure. Finally, it should be noted that the rationale which the Court adopted in
Newspaper v. Canada (A.G.)
, that anonymity was necessary to encourage complainants to come
forward, was not before the Court in
Cox Broadcasting or The Florida Star. In the two
American cases that discussed a rape victim’s anonymity, the issue arose through a civil action
for invasion of privacy, and not in the course of a criminal trial.
At the same time, two qualifications to the apparent rigidity of the First Amendment’s
position should be noted. First, the U.S. Supreme Court emphasized that its rulings in these
decisions were narrow and did not foreclose limits on publicity to protect the anonymity of
victims. The Court inferred that privacy can be protected, providing that th e measures taken
interfere, to the least extent possible, with the First Amendment. Second, there is an important
divergence between principle and practice in the United States. Though the press is free, under
governing Supreme Court authority, to publis h accurate information which is lawfully obtained,
in practice, the press voluntarily declines to publish the names of rape victims in most cases.
Access to the courts
On access to the courtroom, the landmark U.S. decision is Richmond Newspapers v.
.68 The issue for decision there was whether a criminal trial could be closed to the
public, at the defendant’s request, and without any evidence of a threat to his right to a fair trial,
or of some other overriding consideration. Citing an “unbroken, uncontradicted history”, which
is supported by reasons “as valid today as in centuries past”, Chief Justice Burger held that, “ a

U.S. Chief Justice maintained that public trials have “significant community therapeutic value”. 71
That is to say, the open processes of justice serve the important prophylactic purpose of
providing “an outlet for community concern, hostility, and emotion”; public trials also vindicate
“the fundamental, natural yearning to see justice done”, as well as “the urge for retribution”.
The Court’s lengthy discussion of openness led to the principle that “[a]bsent an
overriding interest articulated in findings”, criminal trials must be open to the public.
73 The
problem in
Richmond Newspapers was that the trial judge made no findings of fact to support the
closure order, and failed to consider whether alternative measures would have met the need to
ensure fairness. As a result, the two prerequisites for an order excluding the public are the
presence of an
overriding interest, and the absence of any viable alternative means to protect that
interest, short of closure. The
Richmond Newspapers standard is more demanding, but at the
same time is not unlike the criteria La Forest J. proposed under s.486(1) of t he
Criminal Code in
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)).74
Conflict between the privacy of sexual assault victims and the open court principle arose
shortly thereafter in
Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court.75 The question in Globe
was whether the First Amendment prohibited the mandatory closure of trials, for
certain sexual offences, during the testimony of victims under age 18. After reviewing the
underlying values of openness, Brennan J. indicated that to deny access to inhibit the disclosure
of sensitive information, the state must show that the denial is “necessitated by a compelling
governmental interest, and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest”.
76 In other words, an order

to close a courtroom is subject, in American const itutional terminology, to strict scrutiny.
Practically speaking, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for a closure order to survive
once strict scrutiny is applied. The statutory provision at issue in Globe Newspaper failed

because Brennan J. concluded for a majority that mandatory closure was not necessary; a trial
court could instead determine whether closure would protect the welfare of a minor on a case to
case basis. Note, parenthetically, that this is what occurs in Canada through the c ombination of
s.486(1) of the
Criminal Code and the C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) criteria.
Significantly, Brennan J. rejected the suggestion that mandatory closure was permissible
because it would encourage victims of sex crimes to come forward and provide accurate
testimony. In doing so, he noted that the state provided no empirical support for its claim that
automatic closure would lead to an increase in the number of minor victims coming forward and
cooperating with state authorities. Not only did he vi ew the proposition as speculative, he stated
that it is “also open to serious question as a matter of logic and common sense,” because the
press was not denied access to the transcript or other sources of information about the victim’s
77 As well , Brennan J. was reluctant to recognize any exception which would run
contrary to the right of access recognized in
Richmond Newspapers. In any case, he noted that
even if mandatory closure encouraged these victims to come forward, the same could be said of
other crime victims.
Surely it cannot be suggested that minor victims of sex crimes are the
only crime
victims who, because of publicity attendant to criminal trials, are reluctant to
come forward and testify. The State’s argument based on this intere st therefore

proves too much, and runs contrary to the very foundation of the right of access
recognized in
Richmond Newspapers….78
In comparing sex crime victims to the victims of other crimes, Brennan J. at least implicitly
rejected the proposition tha t the victims of these offences are vulnerable in ways that set them
apart. Meanwhile, in dissent Rehnquist J. complained of the majority opinion’s “wooden
application” of a “rigid standard”.
79 Given that the press and public would have access to the
victim’s testimony through transcripts, he claimed that “[t]heir additional interest in actually
being present during the testimony is minimal”.
80 As far as he was concerned, the law had a
minimal impact on First Amendment rights. Moreover, he characterized t he Court’s dismissal of
the under reporting rationale as an instance of “cavalier disregard for the reality of human
Albeit on a question of closure, Globe Newspaper is reminiscent of the debate that took
place in
Canadian Newspapers v. Canada, between the Ontario Court of Appeal and the
Supreme Court of Canada, on the question of a mandatory versus a discretionary publication
82 In Globe Newspaper, Rehnquist J. was unwilling to “leave the closure determination to
the idiosyncrasies of individual judges”.
83 Like Lamer J. in Canadian Newspapers, he referred
to the uncertainties in the victim’s mind prior to the trial, and noted that “[t]he mere possibility of
public testimony may cause parents and children not to report these heinous cri mes”.
84 Though
in dissent, Rehnquist J. concluded that it was within the state’s power to provide for mandatory
closure to alleviate understandable fears and encourage the reporting of such crimes. In

Canadian Newspapers, however, Mr. Justice Lamer wrote
majority opinion.
the Supreme Court of Canada’s

Both the United States and Canada contemplate that proceedings can be closed in some
circumstances. Under the American jurisprudence, however, the case for closure must be close
to invincible; the state i nterest must be compelling, it must be supported by empirical evidence,
and the Court must be satisfied that the interest cannot be satisfied in any other way but closure.
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson) also set a high threshold, it is not as strict as
the doctrine that has emerged under the First Amendment. The American jurisprudence also
endorses a broader conception of what the public interest is and how it is protected by the First
Amendment. Whether the public has a sufficient int erest in being physically present in the
courtroom or in knowing a victim’s identity raise policy questions that are pursued in Chapter
Comparative and transnational perspectives are of some assistance in understanding the
choices that are presented when the principle of open court conflicts with the demands of victim
privacy. In that regard, differences in practice from one system to another can be as revealing as
similarities. For instance, even a limited review of civilian and other models of criminal justice
demonstrates that victims are not, by unavoidable definition, third parties in the trial process.
They can be and are treated as participants in some jurisdictions; under Germany’s institution of
Nebenklage, the victim-plaintiff can play a role as secondary or subsidiary prosecutor.
According the victims of crime such status would, however, be inconsistent with the governing
assumptions of criminal justice in common law jurisdictions.
On first impression, the British and Com monwealth systems might be expected to
provide the closest analogy for Canada. And it is true that many of the
Criminal Code’s reforms,
which enhance the status of victims and complainants in sexual assault proceedings, will also be
found in British, Aust ralian and New Zealand law. Yet the same debate between victim privacy
and other values, such as open court and the accused’s right of full answer and defence, has not
taken place in that jurisprudence. Unlike Canada, these countries lack a system of cons titutional
rights. Yet as Chapters Two and Three explained, conflicts between victim privacy and
competing values intensified and assumed new form, analytically, under Canada’s
Charter of
Rights and Freedoms
. For that reason, the resolution of those conf licts in common law systems
without constitutional rights is less relevant than it would have been in Canada’s pre –
Charter era.
By the same token, the American jurisprudence also fails to provide a precise analogue.
Though the issues are addressed under a regime of constitutional rights, the assumptions of
American constitutionalism may not apply, or may apply with less force in Canada. A good
example, which was mentioned above, is the presumption against publication bans, which is
deeply rooted in Firs t Amendment doctrine. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Canada has not
yet held that the element of prior restraint in such bans raises particular issues of concern under
s.2(b) of the
Charter. As well, the First Amendment jurisprudence can be militant whe n
confronted by measures, whether criminal or civil in nature, which interfere with the watchdog
role of the press. In contests between the press and the state, the press tends to win. Meanwhile,
provisions which are aimed at protecting the privacy of vi ctims are more likely to be seen in
Canada as a reasonable compromise or balance between competing values.
Despite assuming a harder line on the principle of open court, the American
jurisprudence and literature offers a vigorous debate of the policies o n both sides. That debate is
taken up in Chapter Five.

Chapter Five
Debate about sexual offences has, in recent years, been focused on the myths and
stereotypes surrounding the crime of rape. It is a debate which, to some extent, has been
polarized between those who dispute the existence or persistence of such perceptions and beliefs,
on one side, and those who claim that the criminal justice system is tainted by them, on the other.
As Chapter Three explained, the Supreme Court of Canada has concluded that these perceptions
are part of the dynamics which have defined sexual assault proceedings in the past. Those
dynamics can result in an ugly contest between the complainant and accused which re -victimizes
those against whom crimes have been committed. In passing, it can be noted that rape myths
extend in many directions, as the sorry history of race discrimination attests. Not so long ago
and perhaps to this day, discriminatory beliefs about the sexual appetites of black me n and their
lust for white women resulted in lynchings, wrongful convictions, and many other injustices in
the United States.
It is not difficult to see how myths and stereotypes that promote prejudicial beliefs at the
expense of truth can undermine criminal justice. The system is not functioning when offences
are not reported or, if reported, are not prosecuted as a result of such beliefs. Unpunished crimes,
in turn, compromise the community’s interest in law enforcement, and victims pay a personal
price when their bodily integrity is violated with impunity. Society’s need of retribution and
denunciation is denied, and the victim’s right to vindicate and restore her sexual integrity is
But nor does the process function smoothly when complaints are prosecuted; a conviction
cannot be secured without the victim’s decision to testify and thereby forego her privacy as well,
in many cases, as her dignity. Latterly, procedures and rules of evidence too often enabled the
accused to savage a victim’s character and expose her past sexual activity to excuse a nonconsensual contact. Rules of evidence, which permitted what are now recognized as irrelevant
questions, were experienced by victims as humiliating and insulting. The consequences for
complainant privacy and dignity were discussed in the context of the
Charter jurisprudence, in
Chapter Three above.
Not only did such questions in and of themselves constitute an invasion of privacy, they
rebounded back to the open court principle and the problem that sexual offences are chronically
under reported. For complainants, the travails of submitting to cross-examination were surely
compounded by an open court principle which treated sexual assault victims the same way as
other victims of crime. Newspapers and broadcasters were free to publish the private and
intimate details of a named complainant’s sexual encounter with the accused. And, before
restrictions were placed on this evidence, details of the victim’s sex life with others could also be

freely reported because it was disclosed in open court. In the circumstances, it is understandable
that the victims of these crimes were reluctant to trust the criminal justice system.
The reforms of recent years have done much to ameliorate the statu s of complainants in
sexual assault proceedings. Initiatives in judicial and legislative forums have been aimed at
rectifying the perceptions and beliefs that disadvantaged this class of crime victims. As a result,
debate about the relative rights of complainants and the accused is, in Canada, quiet for the time
being. Though proponents of the accused’s rights resist the suggestion that the defendant and his
victim are “equal” under the
Charter, statute law and judicial precedent have made it clear that
there is no “hierarchy of entitlement” between the accused and his victim. Yet competing
interests remain strong; the Supreme Court of Canada has indicated, at the same time, that
victim privacy cannot be promoted, absolutely or disproportionately, at the expense of the
accused’s right of full answer and defence.
2 By the same token, nor does victim privacy stand
above the open court principle. Thus, the Supreme Court accepts that victim privacy can be
protected, and also places access and accountability at the core of s.2(b)’s underlying values.
Another element of the myths and stereotypes which surround the crime of rape concerns
the way sexual offences are reported by the media and how the public, in turn, perceives the
4. As explained by Helen Benedict, “[s]ex crimes have a unique ability to touch
upon the public’s deep-seated beliefs about sex roles,”
5 and the press plays a role in “establishing
or reinforcing those attitudes.”
6 In her 1992 book, Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex
, the author identifies a number of rape myths which in her view are “still alive and
7 She maintains that these myths condition the way the press reports sexual offences, and
the way the public responds to a complainant’s allegation of rape. Benedict suggests that sex
crime victims are squeezed into one of two images: “she is either pure and innocent, a true victim
attacked by monsters – [a virgin] or she is a wanton female who provoked the assailant with her
sexuality – [a vamp].”
8 In light of how “deeply terrible a crime sexual assault is”, this kind of
stereotyping is particularly unfair. Benedict describes her understanding of rape in these terms:
I learned how it destroys the fundamental sense of autonomy and privacy of the
victim – one’s body is used as an object, one’s humanity degraded; how it
introduces trauma and distrust between the victim and those close to her, often
destroying marriages and families; and how little the police, the press and the
public at large understand or even sympathize with these troubles. I learned how
rape victims become trapped in a cycle of injustice: having fallen victim to a
violent crime through no fault of their own, they are blamed for it, sometimes
mocked for it by neighbors, friends, family, and the law. I also learned that, even
after two decades of feminist attempts to educate the public about rape, women
are still screamed at or run out of town for it, and are still commonly portrayed as
promiscuous liars by the press and public….
With reforms now in place, it is difficult to know whether sexual offences are traumatic
because the attack is sexual in nature, because the myths and stereotypes aggravate and worsen
the victim’s trauma, or because the attack and its mythology have not yet and perhaps cannot be
disentangled. Benedict predicts that “[a]s long as people have any sense of privacy about sexual

acts and the human body, rape will [] carry a stigma”, and this is “not necessarily a stigma that
blames the victim for what happened to her”, but a stigma “that links her name irrevocably with
an act of intimate humiliation.”
For purposes of this study, it is important to identify the rationales which support victim
privacy in cases of sexual assault. Specifically, in relation to the ope n court principle, the
question is whether exceptions to access and publicity are necessary to overcome the mythology
and negative history of law enforcement in this area, or whether sexual offences always have
been, and always will be different. The first view would regard exceptions to open court as a
temporary measure to protect the privacy of complainants who are caught in a criminal justice
system and media culture which has not yet eliminated prejudicial attitudes about sexual
offences. The other perspective would treat victim privacy as a permanent exception to the open
court principle in sexual assault proceedings. That view is grounded in the belief that a sexual
offence should be treated differently because the crime necessarily commits a violation of its
victim that is distinctive.
In addressing those points of view, it is important to contextualize the problem of myths
and stereotypes and the open court principle. Chapter Three explained how discriminatory
beliefs entered and pervaded the proceedings, from the investigation through to the rules of
evidence which applied at trial, and in doing so treated sexual assault complainants unfairly.
Despite having been addressed by reforms, these patterns of unfairness are systemic and will be
slow to disappear. By contrast, the open court principle neither endorses nor incorporates the
myths and stereotypes which infused other aspects of sexual assault proceedings in the past. The
presumption in favour of access and publicity does not treat sexual assault victims differently or
unfairly; rather, it assumes that the same principles which apply to other victims of crime should
also apply to those who suffer a sexual assault.
Yet there is a qualification to that; victim anonymity is protected by s.486(3) of the
Criminal Code, as an exception to openness which is justifiable because of the link between
victim identification and under reporting. As well, but only in circumstances where the evidence
supports the order, s.486(1) permits a judge to close part or all of a proceeding. Moreover, even
if the open court principle is not based on any myths or stereotypes, according to Benedict,
media reports continue to trade on a variety of prejudices about sexual offences. From that
perspective, exceptions to open court place a check on the media’s tendency to reinforce or even
establish myths and stereotypes about the victims of sexual offences. On that view, sexual
assault prosecutions should be regarded as seamless, in the sense that the privacy implicatio ns of
the open court principle cannot be separated from the privacy implications of the confrontation
between the victim and the accused.
It is beyond the scope of this Chapter, and the study, to resolve the complex dynamics
that are identified above. Instead, this Chapter provides a discussion of the rationales which
enter into the equation when open court and privacy are in conflict. It is divided into two parts
which correspond to the two major open court issues analyzed in Chapter Two: publicity ver sus
publication bans on victim identity; and access to proceedings versus orders excluding the public

from the court room or the evidence. Accordingly, the first section below explores victim
anonymity and, in doing so, draws on the extensive American literature on this issue.
The second part of the Chapter examines the open court questions that arose in the
Homolka-Bernardo proceedings, with two objectives in mind. One is to consider when and for
what reasons it may be permissible to exclude the publ ic from the courtroom, or deny it access to
critical elements of the evidence. A second is to explore the concept of a victim. It is trite that
the commission of a single offence can create many victims, and it is well established that the
victims of crime have not been well treated by the criminal justice system in the past. In such
circumstances, granting the victims of crime new opportunities to participate in the criminal
process unavoidably challenges the traditional concept of a single victim. The question is
whether “secondary” victims should also be recognized and, if so, in what ways or for which
purposes. Though the
Charter has conferred some status on third parties, such initiatives are
controversial because they alter the concept of a criminal trial as an adversarial contest between
two parties: the state and the accused.
The discussion of these difficult issues is followed by a brief conclusion.
Victim anonymity
Unlike the evidence cases on defence access to private information, victim a nonymity in
sexual proceedings has generated little discussion in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada’s
decision to uphold the
Criminal Code’s mandatory publication ban on victim identity was not
particularly controversial, and the complainant’s right to remain anonymous has not since been
challenged. At the same time, Chapter Two noted Howland C.J.O.’s reasons for concluding that
identity should not automatically be protected. In his view, disclosure in at least some cases
might bring fresh evidence or witnesses to the fore. That Chapter also traced the evolution of
litigant privacy in the justice system, from a low point in
Scott v. Scott, to the present, including
the discretion under s.486(1) to close all or part of the proceedings to protect victim privacy.
Reforms to protect victim privacy, along with more sweeping modifications to the law of
sexual offences, have been in place for many years now. At this point in time, it might be
helpful to know whether these changes have favourably influenced rates of reporting,
prosecution, and conviction for sexual offences. In the absence of data, the debate on anonymity
takes the form of principled arguments on each side of the question.
An initial point, and an important one, which was flagged in discu ssion of the American
jurisprudence, is whether the open court principle is compromised when a victim’s identity is
withheld from the public. On that point, it is not obvious that access to information, or the
transparency and accountability of the criminal justice system, require the victims of crime to be
publicly identified. Presumably, what matters is the offence that has been committed, and the
guilt or innocence of the accused that is at stake, and not the name or particulars of the victim.
To the extent such particulars are relevant to the fairness or credibility of the trial, those details
remain available through the public’s access to the courtroom and to reports of the proceedings
in the print and broadcast press. To put it another way, it is reasonably arguable that excising the
victim’s identity constitutes a minimal trivial derogation from the requirement of openness.

Thus Rehnquist J., who has been the Chief Justice of the United States for many years,
claimed in
Smith v. Daily Publishing Co. that publishing a juvenile’s name was unrelated to the
watchdog role the press plays in monitoring the criminal justice system.
11 Given its freedom to
describe the details of the offence and inform the community of the proceedings against the
juvenile, the prohibition on identity was, in his view, “a minimal interference with freedom of
the press.”
12 Rehnquist J.’s position on anonymity was based on his concerns for a young
offender’s rehabilitation, as well as on the existence of a judicial discretion to permit publication.
Likewise, White J. dissented in
The Florida Star v. B.J.F., on the ground that there is “no
public interest in publishing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons who are the
victims of crime.”
13 In his view, it was “not t oo much to ask the press, in instances such as this,
to respect simple standards of decency and refrain from publishing a victim’s name, address,
and/or phone number.”
14 As far as he was concerned, if the First Amendment prohibited a
private person from recovering for publication of the fact that she was raped, there might not be
any facts which were too private for publication.
15 The majority opinion provided two answers
to Mr. Justice White’s concerns. First, Marshall J. claimed that the article
generally, as opposed
to the
specific identity contained within it, involved a matter of paramount public interest.16
Second, his opinion did not rule out the possibility that civil sanctions for publication might be
necessary to serve the interests at stake. In the circumstances, he concluded that imposing
liability on the Florida Star was “too precipitous” a means to protect a victim’s safety and
privacy, or encourage other victims to come forward without fear of exposure.
If the majority’s answers are not entirely persuasive, the question whether the name or
identity of a person is important remains unanswered. It is not self evident that withholding
victim identity would undercut the press function as watchdog, or that the name of a crime
victim matters to the public. In addressing that question, NBC News President Michael Gartner
explained, that “we are in the business of disseminating news”, and that “[n]ames and facts are
news” which “add credibility to stories and give viewers or readers information the y need to
understand issues.”
18 On its face, that assertion is difficult to prove or disprove; though
undoubtedly true in some cases, it hardly supports an absolute right to name victims. A more
realistic view is that of Howland C.J.O., who found in
Canadian Newspapers that identity might
make a difference in some cases, when disclosure of a victim’s name prompts others to come
On a different point, if the public does not need to know the identity of a sexual assault
victim, it is questionable whether it is essential to know the identities of any victims of any
crimes. This recalls the observation Brennan J. made in
Globe Newspaper, in explaining why it
was inappropriate to close the court room for the young victims of sexual offences, and not f or
other victims. There, he commented that the victims of sex crimes are not the only ones who
would be more likely to come forward when guaranteed a closed hearing. The dilemma in
drawing distinctions between victims is that none are voluntary participa nts in the criminal
justice system; they are part of the process through force of circumstance rather than choice.
Those who suffer a sexual assault are not alone in this, and if victim privacy is taken seriously,
an anonymity order should be available to any victim who seeks it. That approach is

unacceptable, however, because it would transform an exception from the open court principle
into a rule of anonymity. Such an expanded concept of victim privacy, which is still a newcomer
in the criminal justice system, would raise the concerns voiced by Lord Shaw in
Scott v. Scott
and echoed, as well, by Wilson J. in Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (AG).19
A further point, which is often raised in the American literature, concerns fairness to the
accused. Some claim that protecting the identity of the complainant infers that the unnamed
person was indeed a victim and undercuts the presumption that the defendant is innocent. For
instance, American criminal defence lawyer Alan Dershowitz expressed that view in thes e terms:
People who have gone to the police and publicly invoked the criminal process and
accused somebody of a serious crime such as rape must be identified…. In this
country there is no such thing and there should not be such a thing as anonymous
accusation. If your name is in court it is a logical extension that it should be
printed in the media. How can you publish the name of the presumptively
innocent accused but not the name of the accuser?
Michael Gartner, President of NBC News during the William Kennedy Smith and Central Park
jogger incidents, agreed that fairness as between the suspect and the accuser is an issue, yet his
view was that the decision whether to name victims is an editorial question and should be made
on a case to case basis.
21 It is sometimes argued that the identity of the defendant should also be
protected, at least until trial proceedings are concluded. Doing so would effectively create an
anonymous trial process, though, and that would be anathema to the values of transparency and
accountability that have been jealously guarded over the years by the open court principle.
The main issue between those who support the naming of victims and those who support
anonymity is stigma, and how it can or should be addressed in the c ontext of sexual assault. One
view is that sexual offences should be normalized, and from that perspective, special protocols
simply perpetuate the stigma and shame of being a rape victim. Nadine Strossen maintains, for
instance, that, “if we are ever to get beyond the situation where rape is seen as stigmatizing,
where the victim is seen as ‘damaged goods’, then we have to stop mythologizing it and treating
it as some special kind of crime.”
22 She and others contend that mandatory anonymity implies
and encourages the view that rape is disgraceful. Likewise, a former President of the National
Organization of Women stated that prohibiting publication “merely establishes the victim as an
outcast”; she urged others to “
pull off the veil of shame. Print the name.”23 Though it may be
less credible, given that its source has an interest in identifying victims, Michael Gartner of the
NBC News argues that, “by not naming rape victims, we are participating in a conspiracy of
silence which does a disservice to the public by reinforcing the idea that there is something
despicable about rape.”
24 He added that “[r]ape is a despicable crime of violence, and rapists are
deplorable people”, but rape victims, on the other hand, are “blameless.”
25 His view of the press
role is “to inform the public, and one way of informing the public is to destroy incorrect
impressions and stereotypes.”
Meanwhile, the arguments in favour of anonymity are as forcefully advanced. One such
argument is that it is not the victim’s burden to educate the public and de-stigmatize the offence

of rape by exposing her personal circumstances. A person who has already suffered the ordeal of
rape should not bear responsibility for changing prejudicial views about rape and its victims:
[W]hy must the victim, who has already suffered from the ordeal of rape, be
forced to bear the responsibility of educating society and changing its prejudicial
view toward rape and its victims” These negative views have been developed and
reinforced by many segments of our society – parents, teachers, newspaper and
television reporters, film-makers, politicians, sports heroes, and other role models.
The seeds of change must come from these same individuals if society is to make
any meaningful progress in changing its att itude about rape victims.
Benedict echoes this view in the assertion that to expose a victim to the humiliation of being
identified without her consent is “nothing short of punitive.”
28 She considers that the media
covers rape “too irresponsibly” to be able to de-stigmatize the crime merely by naming victims,
and adds that until rape coverage is reformed as a whole, “naming victims will only further
humiliate, expose, and endanger them.”
In any case, it is noted that revealing the victim’s identity fo cuses attention on the victim,
and not on those who may have prejudicial views. The stigma surrounding these offences
renders its victims especially vulnerable and creates distinctive challenges for them in the
healing process. The public disclosure of a victim’s identity could disrupt her healing process,
and although commentators argue that stigma is removed by routinely revealing the names of all
victims, those who are caught in the transition period would be unduly harmed while the stigma
still exists.
This section closes with two observations about the question of victim anonymity in the
American literature. As the discussion has shown, the debate tends to be conducted on an all or
nothing basis. For instance, Michael Gartner explained that, “pro ducers, editors, and news
directors should make editorial decisions, rather than lawyers or legislatures.”
31 To that he added,
“I oppose preventing news organizations from disclosing the names of rape victims who prefer to
remain anonymous.”
32 And, on a point of equality, he added that, “we do not give newsmakers
in any other category of news the option of being named or not being named.”
33 From his
perspective, the state cannot dictate newsroom decisions about what is or is not newsworthy. On
the other side, women’s organizations and those who seek to reform the law of rape insist that
the victim’s identity should never be disclosed without her consent.
The first observation, then, is that the polarization between sides that characterizes debate
at the level of constitutional principle is not reflected in current practice. Whether or not a state
law prohibits publication of a rape victim’s name, the American practice is for the media not to
reveal her identity. Though a statutory ban has not yet been uphe ld under the First Amendment,
the media has voluntarily adopted the principle of anonymity. In doing so, it is unclear whether
the press has conceded that victim identity is either irrelevant or marginally relevant to the
accountability rationale, or has concluded that the privacy of the victim outweighs the public’s
need to know her identity.

Second, those who are opposed to disclosure are offended that the victim’s name is
revealed without her permission. Put another way, whether to be known to the pu blic as a victim
of rape should be a matter of choice. In that regard, Nancy Ziegenmeyer is an example.
Ziegenmeyer is an American woman who chose to come forward and reveal the explicit details
of her rape. She has been praised for her courage in doin g so, and the story of her violation
earned its author a Pulitzer Prize. Ziegenmeyer maintains, however, that any decision to speak
out should be made by the victim and only when she has healed enough. Her own experience led
her to offer the following advice:
I would encourage any rape victim to come forward who has gone through
enough counselling and has a support system and she thinks it is right for her. No
one should dictate to crime victims that they should speak out. It must be their
To conclude, reference should be made to R. v. Adams, a decision of the Supreme Court
of Canada on the question whether, when and at whose instance a sexual assault publication ban
can be lifted.
35 In that case, the ban was imposed at trial upon the request of the Crown, and not
the complainant. When the trial ended in an acquittal of charges against the accused, the judge
revoked the publication order, citing his findings that the complainant “was a prostitute and a
36 In restoring the order, Mr. Justice Sopinka of the Supreme Court found that the language
of s.486(4) did not expressly authorize the revocation of such orders. Nor was he prepared to
imply such a power in the statutory provision, given the purpose of the ban, which is to provide
the complainant a permanent guarantee of anonymity. In his view, a revocable ban, like the
discretionary ban at issue in
Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (AG), “would fail to provide the
certainty that is necessary to encourage victims to come forward.”
Nor did the trial judge have an inherent power to revoke the order, because it was
mandatory at the request of the Crown, and the Crown had neither withdrawn its application nor
consented to the revocation of the order. In any case, Sopinka J. held that even i f the Crown
consented, the judge still would have no power to revoke the order if the complainant did not.
Such an order can only be lifted when both the Crown and complainant consent.
In Canada, then, the complainant in sexual assault proceedings controls the disclosure of
her identity, during the process and following its completion as well. Though the victims of
these crimes are free to identify themselves to the public and speak to their experiences, few, if
any, have chosen to do so thus far.
Access to proceedings
Despite its entrenchment in the s.2(b) jurisprudence, the open court principle remains
vulnerable. The shock value of violent crime ensures that exceptions to the rule will be sought
whenever the circumstances are frightening enough to threaten competing values such as fair
trial and victim privacy. At present, decisions will be made on a case -to-case basis, under the
analytical frameworks established in
Dagenais v. C.B.C, C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v.
, and R. v. Mentuck and R. v. O.N.E.38 Generally speaking, exclusion orders constitute a
more serious infringement of the open court principle than publication bans; perhaps for that

reason C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson) emphasized the need for a sufficient evidentiary foundatio n to
justify closing all or part of a hearing. In addition, closure orders unavoidably deny access to the
information which is imparted during proceedings and that is problematic because once access is
denied that part of the hearing is effectively lost to the public.
Under s.486(1) of the
Criminal Code, the public can be excluded, to protect the privacy
of victims or witnesses, for part or all of a proceeding. That question arose with particular
poignancy in the course of the Homolka-Bernardo trials. There, the survivors of the French and
Mahaffy victims fought to keep graphic videotapes of sex torture out of the public domain.
Though not to sympathize with their cause might seem heartless, on a point of principle the
Homolka-Bernardo crimes raised as yet unanswered concerns about the accountability of the
criminal justice system. To this day, the public is sceptical of the deal the Crown “cut” with Ms
Homolka, and doubts whether she received just punishment for the crimes she committed. At
the same time, the privacy and dignity interests of the victims and their survivors could scarcely
have been more compelling. That is why the open court issues at stake in the Homolka and
Bernardo trials are so pertinent here; in each, the competing concerns under discussion in this
Report were at an apex.
The open court principle was challenged three times in the course of separate trials for
the defendants Homolka and Bernardo. First of all, at the hearing to consider Ms Homolka’s
plea bargain and sentence, Kovacs J. excluded the public and foreign press from the courtroom,
and imposed a wide-ranging publication ban on the domestic press.
39 Second, as the date for Mr.
Bernardo’s trial neared, the families of the French and Mahaffy victims applied for orders
excluding the public during those parts of the proceedings in which the videotapes would be
shown or discussed.
40 Third and finally, after the Bernardo trial and appeals were concluded, the
families applied again for orders to destroy the videotape evidence, and that task was carried out
late in 2001.
The elemental facts are well known and require little attention. 42 Karla Homolka and
Paul Bernardo were lovers who then married and carried out a series of sexual offences which
they committed, together, against at least four victims. Two of the four, Leslie Mahaffy and
Kristen French, were murdered and a third, Ms Homolka’s sister Tammy, died accidentally
following sexual assaults that occurred while she was unconscious. For some time the police did
not regard Tammy Homolka’s death as suspicious, were unaware of Jane Doe, the surviving
victim, and were without leads in the French and Mahaffy murders. The investigation broke
when Karla Homolka presented herself to the police as a victim of spousal assault i n January,
1993. Once she implicated her spouse, Bernardo was arrested. Charges of manslaughter in the
deaths of French and Mahaffy were brought against Ms Homolka on May 18, 1993, and the next
day murder charges, among others, were laid against Mr. Bernardo.
At the time of the Homolka trial, three features of the case worried and concerned the
public. First, little was known about the sexual captivity and offences the victims endured before
being murdered, except that their treatment was rumoured to be sadistic, horrific, and
unimaginable. Second, little was likewise known about the respective roles Homolka and
Bernardo played in committing those offences and then killing their victims. Third, by the

spring of 1993, it was apparent that the Crown’s case against Bernardo depended on his spouse’s
evidence against him. In simple terms, to secure a conviction against him, her story had to be
believed. Yet on no view of the facts then known could she be exculpated; by casting her as a
victim of his predatory behaviour, her responsibility for the crimes that were committed could be
diminished and her credibility as a witness preserved.
Karla Homolka’s trial took place on June 28, 1993, some two years before Bernardo’s,
amid intense public interest. Whet her or not they were unprecedented, the trial judge’s orders on
the open court issues were at least extraordinary. Not only did Kovacs J. impose a near -blanket
publication ban on the proceedings, he excluded the public and foreign media from the
43 As a result, the only details from her trial and sentence hearing that could be
reported were the contents of the indictment, whether there was a joint submission as to
sentence, whether a conviction was registered but not the plea, the sentence imposed, and a few
other unrevealing aspects of the Court’s reasons.
44 In addition, the non-publication order applied
to the transcript of the trial proceedings.
45 As to access, beyond the families of the accused and
the victims and court personnel, only the Canadian press were allowed into the courtroom; the
public at large and the foreign press were specifically excluded by order under s.486(1) of the
Criminal Code.46 Moreover, it was a condition of access, to those admitted to the proceedings,
that there be “no publication of the circumstances of the deaths of any persons referred to during
the trial.”
By his own admission, the sensibilities of the victims’ families and the community at
large played no role in the judge’s decision to impose a publication ban and exclude the public
from his courtroom. Thus Kovacs J. apologized that he could not act on his “real concern for the
psychological well being of the innocent victims.”
48 He did not consider it permissible, under
the existing case law, to create an exc eption to open court in deference to the privacy or dignity
of the families. For the same reason, he did not take the trauma which might be experienced by
the community of St. Catherine’s into account, should the proceedings be publicized.
Oddly, given the circumstances, the publication ban and exclusion order were granted to
protect Bernardo’s right to a fair trial at some later date. On the strength of
Nova Scotia v.
, Kovacs J. found that protecting an accused who is presumed innocent and s ecuring
the integrity of the court’s process were values of superordinate importance, sufficient to warrant
an exception to the open court principle.
50 Yet Bernardo opposed the publication ban and
indicated that he was prepared to waive his right to compla in that the publicity surrounding the
Homolka proceedings would deny him a fair trial. The trial judge refused to treat his insistence
that the open court principle be followed as determinative. In his view, permitting Bernardo to
waive the fair trial claim would be tragic, if his own trial led, as a result of pre -trial prejudice, to
the conviction of an innocent man. And if he was guilty, the harm to society would be
“inestimable” if his conviction was flawed because a fair trial had been impossible due to the
irreparable publicity surrounding the Homolka trial.
After listing some of the extraordinary features of the case, Mr. Justice Kovacs held that
the considerations for a fair trial outweighed the right to freedom of the press.
52 The order
excluding the public and foreign press was linked to his concerns about publicity. In the

circumstances, a publication ban which could not be enforced against the American media would
be inadequate to protect the integrity of the process. There remained the ris k, should the public
be granted entry, that the U.S. press would succeed in gaining access to information about the
proceedings and then publish it.
From an open court perspective, the trial judge’s reasons are not strong. Kovacs J. did
not attach significant value to freedom of the press or to the public’s access to information about
the trial, including the opportunity to debate the justness of Homolka’s sentence. Moreover, in
assuming that publicity would jeopardize the fairness of Bernardo’s trial, he failed to consider
whether alterative measures, such as a change of venue, could obviate the need for an exception
to open court. Finally, it should be noted that his publication ban and exclusion order predated
the Supreme Court’s decisions in
C.B.C. v. Dagenais and C.B.C. v. New Bruswick (Re: R. v.
, both of which set onerous standards under the Charter to justify exceptions to the open
court principle.
At the time, the ban and closed hearing were enormously controversial. As Frank Davey
explained, the judge’s order was “perhaps, from the point of view of public knowledge, the most
unfortunate moment in Ontario history for the imposition of such a ban.”
54 The dynamics at
play, including the media’s role, led to a public perception of the cas e as “an enormous collection
of deceits and concealments.”
55 For instance, the victims’ families were perceived as being
concerned with “unjustly protecting their privacy”; it looked as though the police were
determined to keep the media and the public “from finding out about even inconsequential
information”; it appeared that the police and Crown were making deals “against the public’s
back”; and it was widely held that Homolka received an “unjustly light sentence.”
56 Yet Davey is
most critical of the media, which he characterized as behaving in a self -serving manner
Arguably, it was not the ban itself that might cause disrespect of the court system,
but the reception of the ban in the media. The media have a large role in controlling
what issues the public is encouraged to see as important…. In the debate over the
publicity ban, the media were the only public institutions to publicize and criticize
the judge’s order…. Without the media’s repeated writing about their own
indignation about the order … that is, without the media making themselves the
story-much of the debate of the ban would not have occurred.
Nor did subsequent events restore confidence in Homolka’s sentence or the judicial
orders that shielded details about the offences and her participation in them from public scrutiny.
Some time after her sentence had been imposed, videotapes documenting the crimes committed
against Mahaffy and French were surrendered to the Crown by defence counsel for Bernardo.
The discovery of this evidence altered the entire complexion of the case. First, the video footage
uncovered a surviving but previously unknown victim, Jane Doe, and revealed the events leading
up to Tammy Homolka’s death. Second, tapes that proved Bernardo’s sexual offences rendered
the Crown’s case less dependent on Homolka’s direct evidence against him. Moreover, footage
which recorded her willing participation in the commission of those offences undercut any claim
that Homolka had been an unwilling participant and helple ss victim of spousal abuse. Not

surprisingly, these revelations rendered the sentence which was imposed at her hearing even
more suspect, and not the least because it did not include punishment for the offences she
committed against Jane Doe and her own sister.
Third, the discovery of the videotapes subjected the victims’ families to untold agony,
and brought them into the proceedings which led up to and followed the Bernardo trial. The
order by Kovacs J. had the effect, though not the purpose, of protecting the privacy and dignity
of the victims’ families. Yet the publication ban was temporary and would expire at the
conclusion of Bernardo’s trial.
58 In the ordinary course, however, the tapes would be entered as
evidence and played in open court at those proceedings. Faced with that prospect, the families
pressed the courts to protect them and their deceased daughters from the public violation of their
privacy and dignity.
Prior to the Bernardo trial, the Crown brought an application under s.486(1) of the
Criminal Code to exclude the public from the courtroom during its presentation of the videotape
evidence. While members of the media opposed it, the families of the deceased victims
supported the Crown’s application. First, it was necessary for t hem to secure status as intervenors
in the process. Ordinarily, third parties are not permitted to participate in criminal proceedings,
and though the status of third parties, including victims, has changed under the
Charter, the
criminal trial remains a contest between the accused and the Crown.
Through their counsel, the families maintained that their constitutional rights would be
violated if the tapes were shown to the public. The difficulty was that if the victims’ families
were granted standing in Bernardo’s case, it might be difficult to refuse other crime victims
similar status.
60 LeSage A.C.J.O.C., who would later preside over the jury trial, noted that, “in
general victims and parents of victims do not have a right to intervenor status in a criminal
61 Even so, he granted the Mahaffy and French families’ requests, “as an indulgence”, and
on the strength of the “unique and different perspective” they would have to offer.
Emphasizing that it was rare for the Court to grant third parties such status, he did so because the
circumstances of the case were “so strikingly unusual”.
On its merits, the Crown’s s.486 application posed a difficult question. The case for
access to the proceedings, including the video evidence, could hardly have been more
compelling. That evidence documented the relationship between Homolka and Bernardo, and
proved their respective roles in the commission of multiple sexual offences. And, if the purpose
of the evidence was to establish Bernardo’s guilt, the degree of Homolka’s complicity in the
offences, including murder, and the legitimacy of the Crown’s “bargain” with her, remained
contentious. From that perspective, the adage that, “pictures don’t lie,” seemed to offer some
hope of getting at the truth of what happened. In this instance, however, the fair trial rationale
could not provide a cover for victim privacy, as it had at the Homolka proceedings.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that questions surrounding the videotape were decided
the Supreme Court’s decision in C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson), which identified the protection of
privacy as a permissible reason for excluding the public from the courtroom.

Playing the tapes in open court could only be experienced by the Mahaffy and French
families as a cruel and even a barbaric act. Thus, the Crown submitted that the failure to
recognize the distress of the victims, including the families, would adversely affect the
perception of the administration of justice, which is referred to in s.486( 1) as one of the
permissible exceptions to openness. Without accepting that the deceased victims or their
families could assert
Charter claims, LeSage A.C.J.O.C. forged a compromise between the
demands of open justice and victim privacy. Specifically, he decided that the audio portions of
the videotapes would be played in open court, but that their visual images would be shown only
to the jurors, lawyers, the accused, the judge, and any Court staff whose presence at the
proceedings was required. In doing so, his analysis was based more on the harm their
publication would cause than on the privacy of the families. Specifically, he stated:
… I am satisfied that the
harm that flows from the public display of this videotape
far exceeds any benefit that will flow from the exposure of sexual assault and child
pornography. When I refer to
harm, I am not suggesting that individual members
of the public need to be protected from the
harm that may flow from viewing these
videotapes…. By
harm, I am referring to the injury that most likely will be
occasioned upon the surviving members of these three young girls if the videos are
played in open Court.
The families will suffer tremendous psychological, emotional
and mental injury if the evidence, as the Crown described it … is publicly
Unsatisfied with that result, the families sought and were denied leave to appeal that
decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
65 They did succeed, however, in obtaining an order, in
subsequent proceedings, that the videotapes be returned to the Attorney General for destruction,
when no longer required for the due administration of justice.
66 On further appeal, the Ontario
Court of Appeal rejected their submission that s.486(1) is unconstitutional and held t here was
“no room” to attack its validity on the basis that it treats openness as the rule and exclusion as the
67 As Moldauer J.A. noted, there is a difference between a person’s right to engage in
certain conduct, such as child pornography, and the public’s right of access to observe conduct
captured on videotape and tendered as an exhibit in court proceedings.
68 In any case, the
appellate court did not disturb the trial judge’s destruction order. Accordingly, the final stage in
the videotape saga occurred when the families of the victims witnessed the incineration of the
videotapes late in December 2001.
One way of assessing the way competing demands were resolved in the Homolka –
Bernardo proceedings is to ask, in hindsight, how the deleterio us consequences for open court
and the salutary benefits for victim privacy compare.
70 That question of final proportionality
between the reason for the exception and the harm to open court is a key consideration in the
Supreme Court’s
Dagenais, C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson), and Mentuck doctrines. The benefits
which accrued from the exceptions to open court throughout the proceedings are relatively
straightforward; the Homolka exclusion order and publication ban, the Bernardo videotape order,
and the order which led to the destruction of the tapes provided the families of the victims who
were videotaped a degree of privacy within the criminal justice system which they ordinarily

would not have received. At the same time, their interests were not absolutely pro tected. The
Homolka publication ban was lifted once the Bernardo trial ended. Moreover, the families
sought not only to deny the public access to the audio and visual portions of the tapes but also, to
exclude the public from the courtroom when witness t estimony disclosed any statements made
by the victims on tape. As seen above, LeSage A.C.J.O.C. was not prepared to go that far.
The deleterious consequences for the open court principle are more difficult to assess. It
can be argued that the Kovacs order had limited consequences because the ban on information
was temporary. From that perspective, the public’s access to information about the justice
system was merely delayed. At the same time, there can be little doubt that the publication ban
and exclusion order had a negative impact on the public’s confidence in the integrity and
legitimacy of the police investigation, the Crown’s plea bargain, and the Homolka trial itself.
That gap in confidence widened once the tapes were discovered, and to this da y, the wisdom of
such extensive limits on information about the Homolka proceedings remains open to serious
question. Meanwhile, the salutary benefits of these orders, which were aimed at protecting
Bernardo’s right to a fair trial, could well have been achieved by alternative measures including a
change of venue, jury screening, and instructions to the jury. Kovacs J. did not seriously
entertain any of those measures. Absent the video evidence, which would not appear until later,
it is questionable whether the privacy and dignity of the victims and their families were
compelling enough to warrant exceptions to open court on the scale of the Kovacs publication
ban and exclusion orders. Under the existing doctrine, Kovacs J. was right in concluding that t he
answer was no; and, even under the subsequent criteria of
C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v.
, the issue is debatable.
The deleterious consequences of derogating from the open court principle to protect
victim privacy, in the case of the videotape order, may seem modest. As LeSage A.C.J.O.C.
stressed, “it is not necessary”, for there to be an open trial, that “the public gallery be shown the
graphic display of one of the victims lying in the bathtub whilst the accused attempts to defecate
and actually urinates on her head and face.”
71 Given that members of the press and public could
hear the evidence, he concluded that it was not essential for anyone but the principals, including
members of the jury, to view the tape. Yet LeSage A.C.J.O.C. did concede that, “it is difficult to
rationalize why the verbal, but not the pictorial, images may be publicly displayed.”
72 The
answer he gave was that “traditionally we do not display, for public viewing, photographs of
dead bodies, close-up photographs of wounds, photographs of autopsies, photographs of
exhumations, and similar type evidence”.
73 The analogies he relied on are not perfect, though,
because the examples he listed simply documented the consequences of violent crime. Unlike
the Bernardo videos, photos of wounds and autopsies do not constitute proof of a crime’s
commission. In any case, the question before LeSage A.C.J.O.C. was not whether access to the
tapes fell within traditional practices, but whether a different answer was required by the
Charter’s constitutionalization of open court.
Sparing the families further and undue suffering was compassionate in the circumstances.
The video order also spared public suffering, and avoided implicating the criminal justice system
in the unwilling distribution of child pornography. Still it left broader and important questions of
principle unanswered. Primary among is the definition of a victim, and whether the secondary

victims of a crime can advance rights in their own name. If there is no doubt that the
commission of a single crime can create several victims, the problem is one of deciding which
ones and how many should be granted standing in the criminal justice system. In that, it quickly
and unavoidably becomes subjective to draw comparisons between victims and the relative
degrees of harm they suffer. The Bernardo video order is defended as an exception to open court
which, by virtue of its circumstances, was unprecedented. Once created, however, precedent
seeks the company of analogous circumstances, and rarely remains a solitary and isolated
decision. In any case, to limit the video order to a once in a lifetime case privileges the victims
of the Mahaffy and French tragedies, and excludes other victims whose privacy and dignity
interests might be as profoundly harmed. Then again, should the Bernardo video order be see as
a precedent for the protection of victims, including the secondary victims of crime, the
consequences for the open court principle would be quite troubling. This is the d ilemma that
arises when compassion for the victims of crime is in conflict with the demands of principle.
Open court and victim privacy unavoidably come into conflict, and choosing between the
two is not easy. To some, it may seem that the de rogations from openness which are required to
protect victim privacy are minimal, and are readily outweighed by the equities which run in
favour of those unfortunate enough to be a crime victim, and especially a victim of sexual
assault. From that perspective, demanding the right to publish a victim’s name or to see the
Bernardo videotapes suggest an attachment to the open court principle that is needlessly
scrupulous. As these pages have shown, however, there are compelling reasons why the pre – and
Charter tradition in Canada claims strong adherence to that principle.
At the same time, victim privacy imposes costs on the system. By singling sexual assault
complainants out for distinctive treatment (among a few others), such rules raise fairness an d
equality concerns. Moreover, secrecy in any aspect of criminal justice can erode confidence in
the legitimacy of the system. Protecting the privacy of some victims also leaves unanswered the
status of others, as well as of secondary victims who may als o have suffered horribly. At
present, the statute law and jurisprudence have not established a clear rationale or set of
guidelines to address the issue of victim privacy. In the case of sexual assault, it is assumed that
anonymity is linked to law enforcement. Yet the Court relied on chronic under reporting in
Canadian Newspapers and Adams without addressing privacy as an entitlement in its own right.
How anonymity has affected reporting, and whether sexual assaults raise distinctive privacy
issues, regardless of law enforcement concerns or the persistence of past prejudices, are
questions which should be asked and answered.
By way of postscript, two developments which arose since the Chapter was written
should be mentioned. First, on the issue of vic tim anonymity, it is noteworthy that Simon and
Shuster has scheduled the publication of the book,
I Am the Central Park Jogger, in April. The
identity of the jogger who was brutally assaulted and left for dead has never been disclosed, but
now the victim, whose name is Pimsleur, has come forward. Second, the publication of Stephen
Karla: A Pact with the Devil, in English Canada has revived the contest between the
French and Mahaffy families, and those who are of the opinion that the accountabil ity issues in
the Homolka plea bargain remain inadequately canvassed.
74 The victims’ families complained,
in particular, about two photographs, one of which showed the cement blocks that encase Leslie
Mahaffy’s body, and the other, which showed Jane Doe with Homolka, albeit with a black bar
across her eyes. In this instance, their point may have moral force, but it is without legal

Chapter Six
At least in common law systems, the sensibilities of crime victims have historically n ot
been granted consideration in the trial process. Though their participation was vital to the
outcome, victims and witnesses were third parties who lacked independent standing or status in
what was a two-way contest between the state and the accused. In many ways, which include an
increasing recognition of their privacy concerns, that conception of the victim has been
changing. Today, the victims of crime, and of sexual assaults in particular, are more visible in the
criminal justice system than ever be fore.
The commission of a crime not only robs an individual of his or her integrity, its
investigation and prosecution may unavoidably entail an invasion of that person’s privacy. In a
system that focused attention on the commission of an offence against the community, the
individual who suffered the violation was an object of sympathy in most cases; even so,
vindicating his or her personal suffering was secondary to the objective of the system. That view
of criminal justice, and the importance of vindicating the offence against the community,
supported a particular conception of open court. Granting access to courtrooms and permitting
the evidence and outcomes of proceedings to be widely publicized was an essential part of
maintaining the public’s confidence in the legitimacy, justness and fairness of the system.
Chapter Two of this Report explained the relationship between three sources of law that
have defined Canada’s conception of the open court principle over the years. Those sources are
the common law, statute law, and – since 1982 – the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The
common law principle of open court protected the twin concepts of access to proceedings and
publicity. Exceptions to the principle were also recognized mainly, but not exclusively, to
preserve the fairness of a criminal trial. For a variety of reasons, the common law was relatively
unresponsive to the privacy concerns of victims or witnesses in the criminal trial process.
The common law is subject to modification by t he legislature, and exceptions to the open
court principle increased in number as the
Criminal Code and other criminal law measures were
amended. Though many measures were introduced to protect the fairness of the trial and thereby
preserve the presumption of innocence, some addressed the status of victims and witnesses.
As Chapter Two explained, the
Charter created uncertainty about the status of common
law and statutory exceptions to the open court principle. Yet the Supreme Court of Canada has,
in its s.2(b) jurisprudence, strongly endorsed that principle. In doing so, the Court has linked
open court to the fundamental values it supports: public confidence in the justice system; the
legitimacy of criminal justice; and the accountability of courts and judges. What the
Charter has
added to the common law conception of openness is a deeper awareness of the connection
between an open process, and the legitimacy of the justice system
as one of the central
institutions of Canadian democracy
Chapter Two also traced the evolution of doctrine under s.2(b) of the Charter, which
guarantees freedom of expression and the press. To summarize briefly, the three most important
features of that jurisprudence are: first, the establishment of constitutional “tests” in
Dagenais v.
and the subsequent case law; second, the requirement that exceptions to the principle rest
on a sound evidentiary basis; and third, the recognition that open court should in some cases be
limited to protect victim privacy.
With that foundation in place, Chapter Three took a closer looked at the status of victim
privacy in sexual assault proceedings. In that context, privacy concerns were raised in answer to
rules of evidence, which in the past permitted an accused to probe the details of a complainant’s
private life or allowed the defence, more recently, to gain access to confidential medical and
counselling records. Chapter Three explained how the Supreme Court of Canada responded by
introducing a right of victim privacy under s.7 of the
Charter, and placing it on an equal plane
with the rights of the accused. For purposes of this Report, the point of Chapter Three was to
demonstrate that for complainants, the privacy issues at stake are not limited to the open court
issues of anonymity and closure or the definition of “relevant” evidence; the privacy concerns
which arise in sexual assault proceedings are instead linked throughout the process of
investigation and trial.
In other words, victim privacy has multiple dimensions. The incursion begins when the
complainant makes a decision to report the offence, and continues during the process of
investigation, when authorities consider whether the allegation is credible enough to warrant
charges and prosecution. The loss of privac y can then only be magnified during the trial process,
when the victim must testify and then submit to cross-examination. Traditionally, the
proceedings took place in public, under rules of evidence, which were based on a concept of
relevance that permitted counsel for the accused to probe the details of a complainant’s sexual
history, or to demand access to private records created in the course of a confidential
relationship. The loss of privacy that is inherent in the open court principle could only be
aggravated by investigatory practices and evidentiary rules which exposed the victims of sexual
assault to scrutiny and doubt that is not experienced, generally, by other victims of crime.
Chapters Four and Five added further dimensions to the Report by offering comparative
perspectives from other countries and systems of law, as well as by providing reflections on the
deeper issues at stake. For instance, the importance of victim anonymity will depend on the
degree to which those who suffer a sexual ass ault are considered the same as, or different than,
other victims of crime. That issue in turn raises other questions which remain unanswered at
present. Specifically, it is unclear whether anonymity is granted as a remedial response to the
under reporting of sexual offences, as the Supreme Court claimed in
Canadian Newspapers v.
Canada (AG)
. On that view, anonymity is necessary to promote enforcement of the law but not,
in particular, because there are privacy interests at stake. It follows from that position that sexual
assault victims are in principle no different from other victims of crime, with this qualification:
the history of myths and stereotypes which accompanies the law of sexual offences has made it
imperative to rectify the invasions of privacy that occurred in the past. Once the myths and
stereotypes have been eliminated, the remedy will no longer be needed. Determining when past

patterns have been eliminated and the victims of these offences are “normalized”, vis -a-vis other
victims of crime, is an exercise that does not lend itself to precision.
Under another view, sexual assault victims are fundamentally different because the nature
of the offence that has been committed against them is unique. The underlying assumption there
is that special measures to protect the privacy of these victims are justifiable on an ongoing and
permanent basis. As the discussion in Chapter Five revealed, however, opinions vary on the
question whether the stigma that is associated with these offences is in creased or decreased by an
anonymity rule. While some maintain that protective measures perpetuate that stigma, others
argue that it is unfair to place the burden of de-stigmatizing this offence on individual victims.
It is one of the Report’s themes that the relationship between the practices and beliefs,
which were rejected by the Supreme Court, and the open court principle, is important. As long
as prejudicial beliefs about sexual assault persist and are reflected, not only in the rules and
protocols of the justice system but in the media coverage of sexual offences as well, the
vulnerability of its victims may require or justify exceptions to the open court principle. As
noted above, however, access and publicity do not reflect any bias against or d iscriminatory
beliefs about the victims of sexual assaults. The problem, instead, is that the system around
these offences, and the cultural attitudes which are attached to sex, have resulted in measures
which protect the anonymity of victims and allow proceedings to be closed, though only on a
discretionary basis which is fettered by standards that must comply with the
In the past, the victims of sexual assault did not readily place their trust in the criminal
justice system. Against the need to secure their confidence that complaints will be treated fairly,
and that any proceedings undertaken will be reported with some objectivity, the exceptions to
open court that are in place at present appear modest. Perhaps for that reason and in recognit ion,
as well, of the ways sexual offences have been mismanaged, the derogations have not been
particularly controversial. The guarantee of anonymity is linked to the complainant’s decision to
report, but the decision to report is also linked to fears about the other invasions of privacy that
will necessarily occur during the processes of investigation and prosecution. Eliminating or
minimizing these unpleasant elements of the process will take time, and whether steps taken in
that direction have been successful will in any event be a matter of perception.
In principle, and with an exception for young victims, those who suffer sexual assaults
should be treated the same way as other victims of crime. Assuming that discriminatory beliefs
about the “looseness” or “availability” of women who have been assaulted can be overcome, the
remaining argument for a special rule of anonymity is that these offences are uniquely private in
nature. For that reason, it can be argued that the identity of those who are its victims should be
protected. The difficulty in responding to that claim is that it remains almost impossible to
separate the nature of the offence from societal attitudes about sexual offences, which have been
systemically expressed and entrenched both in the justice system and in the press. Yet it is
unclear why anonymity should attach to the victim of an offence that causes shame because it is
private or intimate, and not to the victim of an offence who suffers deep pain arising from an
offence that is
violent or disfiguring.
Another issue which might be reconsidered is the guarantee or promise of anonymity, no
matter what the circumstances. Under the current
Criminal Code provision and judicial
interpretation, sexual assault can be committed in a number of ways which are not all that
intimate or private, and which fall short of the violation that was required to establish the
predecessor offence of rape. In other words, the invasion of privacy that is inherent in sexual
assault varies significantly with the facts and circumstances of the case. From that perspective,
the necessity of an absolute promise of anonymity is less compelling than in the past. It is also
less justifiable under the evolving s.2(b) jurisprudence, and its disapproval of absolu te
prohibitions, than it was in 1988, when
Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (AG) was decided.
As to closed proceedings, the Supreme Court of Canada’s standard in
C.B.C. v. New
Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson)
reflects a healthy suspicion of decisions to exclude the public from
the courtroom. There, Mr. Justice La Forest made it clear that it is in the nature of criminal
process that the victim’s circumstances must be exposed, and that exclusion orders will not be
justifiable unless a sufficient evidentiary basis is present to demonstrate why an exception to
openness is permissible in the circumstances of a particular case. Though trial judges have the
discretion to make that decision, the Supreme Court has indicated that the exercise of that
discretion must comply with the
Access to evidence raises problematic issues. If LeSage A.C.J.O.C.’s Bernardo video
order felt right in the circumstances, it is more difficult to defend as a matter of principle. The
troubling question there was whether the public was entitled to know what was on those tapes,
and who, to the contrary, could be considered a victim for purposes of defending the privacy and
dignity interests which were at stake. Though his was a dissenting opinion, it is doubtful that
LeSage A.C.J.O.C.’s compromise between the audio and video components of the tapes was
consistent with Cory J.’s comments on access to evidence in
Vickery v. N.S.S.C. (Prothonotary).
For the time being though, the Bernardo video order can be viewed as a decision which was
based on its exceptional facts. But the questions it raised, on points of principle, will surface
Open court and victim privacy have received strong endorsement in the
jurisprudence. Yet only one of the two can be protected in any given case. As Wilson J. noted
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (AG), the open court principle and privacy cannot both prevail at
the same time; a choice must be made when the two are in conflict. The Supreme Court of
Canada has put doctrines in place which are designed to reinforce the open court principle, and
accommodate exceptions at the same time. Whether the Court holds more strictly to the
principle in the future, or instead grants exceptions generously, to protect the privacy of victims,
remains to be seen.

Chapter Seven
Selected Bibliography
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Schedule B of the Canada Act, 1982, (U.K.) 1982, c. 11

s.1 (guarantee of rights and freedoms subject only to reasonable limits)
s.2(b) (fundamental freedoms: freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other
media of communication)
(legal rights: life, liberty and security of the person, and principles of fundamental
(legal rights: the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure)
(equality rights: equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law)

Criminal Code
R.S. 1985, c. C-46

s. 276 Complainant privacy in several assault proceedings: evidence of complainant’s
sexual activity inadmissible (“rape shield” provisions)


s. 276.2(1) Jury and public excluded from hearings to determine the admissibility of evidence
under s.276 (2) (upon application as per s.276.1)

s. 276.3 Ban on publication of information in s.276.1 hearing
s. 278.1-9 Production of record to accused
s. 486 (1) Exclusion of public from the courtroom in certain cases
s. 486 (1.1) Protection of child witnesses
s. 486 (2.1) Complainant or witness under the age of 18 or who has mental or physical
disability may testify outside the courtroom (behind a screen/closed-circuit TV)
s. 486 (2.2) Condition of exclusion (re: testimony given under s.486 (2.2))

s. 486 (2.3) Accused not to personally cross-examine child witness
s. 486 (4.1) Victim/witness anonymity in proceedings not covered by s.486(3)

s. 517 Publication ban on “show cause” hearing at bail proceedings (mandatory on
application by the accused)


s. 539 Ban on publication of evidence taken at preliminary inquiry (mandatory on
application by the accused)


s. 542 (2) Ban on publication of admission or confessions tendered in evidence at the
preliminary inquiry

s. 648 (1) Ban on publication of information at trial which was not presented to jury
s. 649 Ban on the disclosure of jury proceedings

s. 715.1 Videotape evidence of young complainant or witness in sexual assault proceedings
is admissible

Young Offenders Act
R.S. 1985, c. Y-1

s. 17 (1) Order restricting publication of information presented at transfer hearing (upon

s. 38 (1) Identity not to be published (applies to accused, victim, witnesses)
s. 39 (1) Exclusion of any or all unnecessary persons from hearing
Youth Criminal Justice Act
R.S. 2002, c.1

s. 110(1)
Identity of offender not to be published
Identity of victim or witness not to be published
No access to records unless authorized
Exclusion from hearing

Related Provincial Legislation
Child & Family Services Act
R.S.O. 1990, c. C-11
s. 45 (4) Hearings private unless court orders otherwise

s. 45 (7) Order excluding media representatives or prohibiting publication (where the court
is of the opinion that the presence of the media or the publication of the report

would cause emotional harm to a child involved in the proceedings)

s. 45 (8) Prohibition: identifying child
(applies to witness, participant, subject in proceedings, or child’s parents or

member of child’s family)
Courts of Justice Act
R.S.O. 1990, c. C-43

s. 135 (2) Exclusion of public where there is the possibility of serious harm or injust ice to
any person


s. 135 (3) Disclosure of information of hearing under s.135 (2) (not contempt of court unless
disclosure is expressly prohibited)

s. 136 (1) Prohibition against photography, etc., at court hearing
Fatality Inquiries Act
R.A.S. 2000, c. F-9
s. 41 Private hearings (proceedings can be closed if they involve disclosure of matters of
public security, or intimate or personal matters)
Provincial Offences Act
R.S.O. 1990, c. P-33
s. 52 (2) Excluding public from hearing (for specific purpose)

s. 52 (3) Prohibition of publication of evidence or identity (to protect the reputation of a

Victims Rights
Victims Bill of Rights, 1995
S.O. 1999, c.6
The Victims’ Rights Act
S.M. 1998, c.44

Case Law
Scott v. Scott, [1913] A.C. 417
(endorsing the open court principles and rejecting privacy as grounds for an
in camera hearing)
Nova Scotia v. MacIntyre, [1982] 1 S.C.R. 175
(balancing the open court principles against law enforcement objectives and the privacy of the
innocent in a search warrant context)
Vickery v. N.S.S.C. (Prothonotary), [1991] 1 S.C.R. 671
(denying a journalist access to videotape evidence of an accused’s confession which was
illegally obtained)
Aubry v. Les Editions Vice Versa Inc., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 591
(concluding that s.5 of the
Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right to one’s
image, as part of a right to privacy)
A. (L.L.) v. B. (A.), [1995] 4 S.C.R. 536
(holding that the
O’Connor procedure for determining defence access to a complainant’s
counselling and therapeutic records, in sexual assault proceedings, applies to records held by
third party counselling institutions)
Blencoe v. B.C. (Human Rights Commission), [2000] 2 S.C.R. 307
(discussing the scope of “security of the person” under s.7 of the
Charter, in the context of a
claim that delay in the processing of a human rights complaint of sexual harassment denied the
accused his constitutional rights)
Canadian Newspapers Co. v. Canada (A.G.), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122
(upholding a mandatory ban on the publication of the identity of sexual assault victims and
reversing the Ontario Court of Appeal decision to invalidate the mandatory ban and uphold a
discretionary ban); rev’d. (1985), 49 O.R. (2d) 557 (O.C.A.)
CBC v. New Brunswick (A.G. (Re: R. v. Carson)), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480
(upholding s.486(1) of the
Code, which permits exclusion orders, and invalidating the order in
this case)
Dagenais v. C.B.C., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835
(invalidating a common law publication ban imposed to protect the fair trial of the accused)
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (A.-G.), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326
(invalidating a statutory publication ban on information disclosed in matrimonial proceedings)

Hunter v. Southam, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 145
(linking s.8’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure to the right of privacy)
M. (A.) v. Ryan, [1997] 1 S.C.R. 158
(holding, in a civil action against a therapist for sexual misconduct, that a partial privilege
attaches to psychiatric counselling records, to protect a compelling privacy interest)
R. v. Adams, [1995] 4 S.C.R. 707
(holding that a ban on victim identity under s.486(3) cannot be revoked without the
complainant’s consent)
R. v. Carosella, [1997] 1 S.C.R. 80 (concluding that the accused has a constitutional entitlement
to the production of documents, including counselling records, from either the Crown or third
R. v. Darrach, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 443
(upholding the
Criminal Code’s post-Seaboyer rape shield provisions)
R. v. Ewanchuk, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 330 (confirming that mistake of fact is only available as a
defence in sexual assault proceedings where the accused honestly believed the complainant had
communicated consent)
R. v. L. (D.O.), [1993] 4 S.C.R. 419
(upholding s. 486 (2.1) of the
Criminal Code permitting young complainants for certain offences
to testify behind screens)
R. v. Levogiannis, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 475
(upholding s. 715.1 of the
Criminal Code and videotape evidence for young
witnesses in sexual assault cases)
R. v. Mentuck, [2001] 205 D.L.R. (4th) 512 ( S.C.C.)
(articulating a publication ban doctrine to govern conflict between the open court principles and
undercover police operations)
R. v. Mills, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 863
(discussing the accused’s right to trial within a reasonable time under s.11(b))
R. v. Mills, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668
Criminal Code provisions enacted after the decision in R. v. O’Connor and
restricting an accused’s access to a victim’s private records)
R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30
(invalidating the
Criminal Code’s abortion provision and discussing security of the person under

R. v. O’Connor, [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411
(establishing a test to balance the accused’s right of full answer and defence, and the victim’s
privacy right in counselling and therapeutic records)
R. v. O.N.E., [2001] 205 D.L.R. (4th) 542( S.C.C.)
(Companion case to Mentuck, above)
R. v. Osolin, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 595
(upholding the accused’s right to cross-examine the complainant on her medical record in sexual
assault proceedings)
R. v. Regan, 2002 S.C.C. 12
(denying a stay of proceedings in sexual assault proceedings on the ground that the importance
of prosecuting sexual offences outweighed abuses of authority on the Crown’s part)
R. v. Seaboyer, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577
(invalidating the
Criminal Code’s rape shield provisions)
Secondary Literature
D. Alderson, “R. v. O’Connor and Bill C-46: Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right” (1996-1997),
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W. J. Anderson, “The Open Court and a Free Press: A View From the Bench”, (1994), 23
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The United States
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Sixth Amendment
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Case law
Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469 (1975)
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from courthouse records, was unconstitutional)
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Gannett Co. v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368 (1979)
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victims under age 18, violated the First Amendment)
Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829 (1978)
(holding unconstitutional a state law punishing media disclosure of confidential investigations
into judicial misconduct)
Nebraska Press Assn v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976)
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(concluding that the guarantee of open public proceedings in criminal trials invcludes
voir dire
examination of jurors)
Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555 (1980)
(upholding a constitutionally protected right of access to courtrooms)

Ross v. Midwest Communications, 870 F.2d 271 (5th Cir. 1989)
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criminal proceedings against one of the newspapers that published the name of
the victim in William Kennedy Smith’s rape trial)
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Systems” (1987), 34
Wayne L. Rev. 95-124.
M. Kaiser, “The Status of the Victim in the Criminal Justice System According to the
Protection Act
”, in G. Kaiser, H. Kuey, and J. Albrecht, eds., Victims and Criminal Justice
Vol. 2 (Freiburg: Max Planck Institute, 1991) 543-578.
H. Kury and G. Kaiser, “The Victim’s Position Within the Criminal Proceedings – An
Empirical Study”, in G. Kaiser, H. Kuey, and J. Albrecht, eds.,
Victims and Criminal Justice
Vol. 2 (Freiburg: Max Planck Institute, 1991) 579-628.
I. Melup, “United Nations: Victims of Crime; Implementation of the Conclusions and
Recommendations of the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the
Treatment of Offenders; Measures Taken to Implement the Declaration of Basic Principles of
Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power” (1991), 2
Int’l. Rev. Victimology 29-59.
E. Muller-Rappard, “Perspectives on the Council of Europe’s Approach to the Issue of Basic
Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime” (1990), 12
Human Rights Quarterly 281-245.
J.F. Nijboer, “Protection of Victims in Rape and Sexual Abuse Cases in the Netherlands” (1997),
Israel L. Rev. 300-336.
K. Stefanowicz, “The Victim of Crime in Polish Criminal Law” (1992), 21
Capital U. L. Rev.
J.J.M. van Dijk, “Victim Rights: A Right to Better Services or a Right to Active Participation?”,
in J. van Dijk et al. eds.,
Criminal Law in Action: An Overview of Current Issues in Western
(Deventer: Kluwer Law and Taxation Publishers, 1986) 351-375.
United Nations
Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power
A/Res/40/34, 29 November 1985, 96th plenary meeting
Para. 6(d) (providing that the responsiveness of judicial and administrative processes to the
needs of victims should be facilitated by … taking measures to minimize
inconvenience to victims,
protect their privacy, when necessary, and ensure their
International War Crimes Tribunal Act

Art. 22 (stating that the International Tribunal shall provide in its rules and p rocedures for
the protection of victims and witnesses, and that such measures shall include the
conduct of
in camera proceedings and the protection of the victim’s identity)
“United Nations: Victims of Crime: Implementation of the Conclusions and
I. Melup

Recommendations of the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of
Crime and Treatment of Offenders; Measures Taken to Implement the
of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power
(1991), 2
Int’l Rev. of Victimology 29-59
1 (1890) 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193, at 196.
2 Id.
3 C. Work, “Whose Privacy?” (1994), 55 Montana L. Rev. 209, at 221.
4 K. Kury and M. Kaiser, “The Victim’s Position within the Criminal Proceedings – An
Empirical Study”, in G. Kaiser, H. Kury and H. -J. Albrecht,
Victims and Criminal Justice, Vol.
51 Criminological Research Reports 581 (Freiburg: Max Planck Institute for Foreign and
International Penal Law, 1991).
5 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, being Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, enacted by the
Canada Act 1982 (U.K.) c.11.
6 The Queen v. Bernardo, unreported decision of LeSage A.C.J.O.C., May 29, 1995, at 38
(emphasis in original).
7 Preamble, The Victims’ Bill of Rights, S.O.1995, c.6.
9 Id. at s.2(1)2.
10 Id. (emphasis added).
11 See s.722 of the Criminal Code (providing that the court shall, for purposes of sentencing,
consider any statement prepared by a victim of the crime describing the harm done or loss arising
from the commission of the offence); S.C. 1995, c.22, s.6.
12 See, e.g., s.738 and following in the Criminal Code (providing for orders that the offender
make restitution to the victim or victims or his or her crime); S.C. 1995, c.22, s.6.
13 Bernardo, supra note 6, at 38.
15 Id.
16 Section 271, Criminal Code 1980-81-82, c.125, s.19.
17 R. v. Lavallee, (1990), 76 C.R. (3d) 329.
18 See s.273.2, 1992, c.38, s.1 (indicating when belief in consent is not a defence); see also R.
v. Ewanchuck
(1999), 22 C.R. (5th) 1 (elaborating on the requirements of the statutory provision,
and confirming that the accused must how an honest and mistaken belief that the complainant
had communicated consent).
19 See s.33.1, 1995, c.32, s.1 (defining the circumstances, which include interfering with the
bodily integrity of another person, when a defence of self -induced intoxication is not available;
see also
R. v. Daviault, (1994), 33 C.R. (4th) 165 (S.C.C.) (recognizing intoxication as a defence
to a charge of sexual assault).
20 It is understood that the complainant in sexual assault proceedings may either be a male or
a female. The history of sexual assault, and the privacy and equality concerns of complainants is
not gender-neutral. Recognizing, then, that males can also be victims but that the p rivacy issues
have been discussed in gender-specific terms, the Report in most cases describes the complainant
as female.
21 See Chapter Three, titled “Victim privacy, sexual assault, and the Charter”.
22 [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480.
23 Id. at 504.
24 Id.
25 Id.
26 Id. at 505.
27 See Chapter Two, titled “The open court principle and the Charter”.
28 [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122.
29 [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326.
30 [1994] 3. S.C.R. 835.
Supra, note 22.
32 [1991] 2. S.C.R. 577.
33 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411.
34 [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668.
Criminal Code, 1892, c.29.
2 See s.517 (providing for an order of non -publication of information disclosed in a show cause
hearing, which is mandatory on application by the accused, where either the accused or the
prosecutor intends to show cause under s.515).
3 See s.539 (1) (providing for a non-publication order of evidence taken at a preliminary inquiry,
which is discretionary at the request of the prosecutor and mandatory at the request of the
accused).; see also s.542 (2) (prohibiting the disclosure of any admission or confession tendered
in evidence at a preliminary inquiry).
4 See Dagenais v. C.B.C., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835.
5 See s.631(6) (protecting the identity of jurors).
6 See s.649 (prohibiting the disclosure of jury proceedings).
7 Criminal Code, 1892, c.29, ss.794, 849.
8 Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1906, c. 146, s.645.
9 Id., s.645 (3).
10 As enacted in 1953-53, s.428 provided as follows:
The trial of an accused that is a corporation or who is or appears t be sixteen years
of age or more shall be he ld in open court, but where the court, judge, justice or
magistrate, as the case may be, is of opinion that it is in the interest of public
morals, the maintenance of order or the proper administration of justice to exclude
all or any members of the public from the court room, he may do so.
, 1953-54, c.51, s.428.
11 See C.B.C. v. New Brunswick (Re: R. v. Carson), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480.
Supra, note 8; see also the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; and the Firearms Act, S.C.
1995, c.39. See
Young Offenders Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.Y-1, ss. 38 (prohibiting the publication of
the names of young persons involved in the commission or prosecution of offences); 39 (granting
a court or justice the power to exclude a person or the public from the proceedin gs); and 17
(providing for the non -publication of information disclosed at an application for transfer to
ordinary court). The
Youth Criminal Justice Act, R.S.C. 2002, c.1, came into effect April 1,
2003, ss. 110 and 111 (identity of offender, victims and witnesses not to be published); 132

(granting a court or justice the power to exclude a person or the public from the proceedings);
118 (prohibiting access to records unless authorized).
13 See Dagenais v. C.B.C. [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835; R. v. Mentuck (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4 th) 512
(S.C.C.); and
R. v. O.N.E. (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4th) 542 (S.C.C.).
14 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, being Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, enacted by the
Canada Act 1982 (U.K.) c.11.
15 Section 1 of the Charter id., states:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and
freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as
can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
16 [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122.
17 [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326.
18 [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835.
19 [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480.
20 [1913] A.C. 417.
21 Id., at 445.
22 Id. at 447.
23 Id. at 463.
24 Id.
25 Id. at 477.
26 Id. at 485.
27 Id.
28 Gazette Printing Co. v. Shallow (1909), 41 S.C.R. 339, at 359.
29 [1936] A.C. 177, at 200 (J.C.P.C.).
30 [1982] 1 S.C.R. 175.
31 Id. at 183.
32 Id.
33 Id. at 183-4.
34 Id.
35 Id. at 185.
36 Id. (emphasis added)
37 Id. at 186-7.
38 Section 2 states that “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … (b) freedom of
thought, belief, opinion and expression, includi ng freedom of the press and other media of
communication”; the
Charter, supra note 14.
39 Section 32, id., specifies that the Charter applies to the Parliament and government of Canada,
including matters relating to the Territories, and to the legislature and government of each
province; the
Charter, supra note 14.
40 Section 8, id., provides: “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or
41 Section 7, id., provides: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of t he person and
the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental
42 [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103.
43 [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122.
44 When first enacted, s.442(3) provided that the order could only be made if the prosecut or
applied for it, but then it was mandatory for the trial judge to grant it. S.C. 1974 -75-76, c.93. It
was amended to enable the judge to make the order at his or her initiative, and to make the order
mandatory once either the prosecutor or complainant applied for it. S.C. 1980-81-82, c.125.
45 (1985), 49 O.R. (2d) 557 (O.C.A.).
46 Id. at 574-75.
47 Id. at 577.
48 Id. at 564.
49 It is understood that the complainant in sexual assault proceedings may either be a male or a
female. The history of sexual assault , and the privacy and equality concerns of complainants is
not gender-neutral. Recognizing, then, that males can also be victims but that the privacy issues
have been discussed in gender-specific terms, the Report in most cases describes the complainant
as female.
50 [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122, at 129.
51 Id. at 130.
52 Id.
53 Id. at 131-32 (emphasis added).
54 Id. at 133. For instance, the section applies only to sexual offences, it restricts publication of
facts related to identity and does not provide for a general ban, and is limited to instances where
the prosecutor or complainant requests the ban.
55 See, e.g., R. v. Several Unnamed Persons (1983), 44 O.R. (20) 84 (Ont. H.C.) (dismissing
applications by several
accused charged with gross indecency for orders banning the disclosure
of their identities).
56 See, e.g. Peterborough City v. Ramsden, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 1084.
57 Note, though, that her testimony was based on interview information with more than 100
Supra note 45, at 563-64.
58 (1989), 64 D.L.R. (4th) 577 (S.C.C.).
59 Justice Cory wrote for himself, as well as for Chief Justice Dickson and Lamer J.; together
with Wilson J., who concurred, the four judges formed a majority. La Forest J.’s dissent was
joined by L’Heureux-Dubé J. and Sopinka J.
60 Id. at 607.
61 Id.
62 Id. at 608.
63 Id. at 610.
64 Id.
65 Id. at 614.
66 Id. at 615.
67 Id. at 589.
68 Id. at 590.
69 Id. at 592.
70 Id. at 593.
71 Id. at 600.
72 Id.
73 Id. at 603.
74 [1991] 1 S.C.R. 671.
75 Id. at 679.
76 Id. at 687 (emphasis added).
77 Id. at 702 (emphasis added).
78 Id. (emphasis added).
79 Id. at 714 (emphasis added).
80 Id.
81 [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835.
82 Id.
83 Id. at 876 (emphasis in original).
84 Id. at 877.
85 Id.
86 Id. at 875.
87 Id. at 878 (emphasis in original).
88 In addition to C.B.C. (Re: R. v. Carson), see R. v. Mentuck (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4 th) 512; and
R. v. O.N.E., (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4th) 542.
Dagenais, at 857 -67 (explaining the convoluted grounds for finding jurisdiction to hear the
90 Id. at 877.
91 Id.
92 Id.
93 [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480.
94 R.S.C. 1985, c.C-46.
95 New Brunswick, at 508.
96 Id. at 515-6.
97 Id. at 516 and f.
98 Id. at 521.
99 Id.
100 Id.
101 “Indeed”, La Forest J. remarked, “Rice Prov. Ct. J. expressly stated that he did not have all
the facts before him in making the order”;
id. at 520.
102 Id. at 521.
103 Id. at 522.
104 Id. at 493.
105 Id.
106 Id. at 497.
107 Id. at 504.
108 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411, see Chapter Three.
109 Id.
110 Id.
111 Id. at 503.
112 Id. at 505.
113 See R. v. Mentuck (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4th) 512; and R. v. O.N.E. (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4th) 542.
In Mentuck, Iacobucci J. re -framed the Dagenais test to allow explicitly for other crucial
aspects of the administration of justice. There, the issue was whether a publication ban on the
details of an undercover operation violated s.2(b) of the
Charter. After agreeing with the
Dagenais requirement that the ban be necessary and proportional, he stated the proper analytical
approach this way: In his view, a ban should only be ordered when:
a) such an order is necessary in order to prevent a serious risk to the pr oper administration of justice
because reasonably alternative measures will not prevent the risk; and
b) the salutary effects of the publication ban outweighs the deleterious effects on the rights and
interests of the parties and the public, including the eff ects on the right to free expression, the
right of the accused to a fair and public trial, and the efficacy of the administration of justice.
1 See Chapter Two.
2 It is understood that the complainant in sexual assault proceedings may eit her be a male or a
female. The history of sexual assault, and the privacy and equality concerns of complainants is
not gender-neutral. Recognizing, then, that males can also be victims but that the privacy issues
have been discussed in gender-specific terms, the Report in most cases describes the complainant
as female.
3 [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577.
4 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411.
5 [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668.
6 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being
Schedule B to the
Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c.11.
7 Hunter v. Southam, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 145, at 155.
8 Id. at 155.
9 Id.
10 Id. at 159 (emphasis added).
11 Id.
R. v. Dyment, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 417, at 428.
13 Id. at 427.
14 Id. at 428.
15 Id. at 426.
16 Id. at 429.
17 Id.
18 Section 7 states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right
not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Charter, supra note 6.
19 R. v. Mills, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 863.
20 Sectio n 11 states that “Any person charged with an offence has the right … (b) to be tried
within a reasonable time.”
Charter, supra note 6.
Supra note 19, at 918 (stating that the fundamental purpose of s.11(b) is to secure, within a
specific framework, the more extensive right to liberty and security of the person of which no

one may be deprived except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.)
22 Id.
23 Id.
24 [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30, at 54.
25 Id.
26 Id. at 56.
27 Id. at 171.
28 Id. at 175 (emphasis added).
29 1980-81-82-83, c. 125, s.19.
30 R.S.C. 1985, c.C-46.
31 Id.
32 Section 273.2 (where belief in consent is not a defence); 1992, c.38, s.1.
33 Section 33.1 (when defence of self-induced intoxication is not available); 1995., s.32, s.1.
34 As noted above , the complainant, in this study, is described in gender -specific terms. By the
same token, the accused is referred to as “he”. Although there are exceptions to the gender –
specific terminology used here, the debate about victims privacy in sexual assault proceedings
presupposes that the accused and the victim are gender-specific individuals.
35 [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577.
36 Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 (formerly s.246.6 and 246.7 of the Criminal Code,
R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34).
37 Seaboyer, at 634-36.
38 Id. at 711.
39 Id. at 613. Those exceptions were rebuttal evidence, evidence going to identity, and evidence
relating to consent to sexual activity on the same occasion as the trial incident.
40 Id. at 620.
41 Id. at 619.
42 Id. at 605-6.
43 Id. at 617.
44 Id. at 603-4.
45 Id. at 619.
46 Id. at 598.
47 Id. at 612.
48 Id. at 634-36.
49 Id. at 712.
50 Id.
51 Id. at 648.
52 The most common myths and stereotypes are listed in her reasons, id., at 651-53.
53 Id. at 655.
54 Id. at 650.
55 Id. at 665.
56 Id. at 664.
57 Id. at 665.
58 Id. at 700.
59 Id. at 702-3.
60 Id. at 709-10 (emphasis in original).
61 S.C. 1992, c.38.
62 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411.
63 S.C. 1997, c. 30.
64 [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668.
65 [1993] 4 S.C.R. 419.
66 See Section 715.1, R.S.C., 1985, c.C-46.
67 L.(D.O.), at 441.
68 Id. at 441-42.
69 Id. at 465.
70 See s.486(2.1), R.S.C. 1985, c. 19.
71 See Chapter Two.
O’Connor, at 503 (emphasis added).
73 The other central issue in O’Connor, which is not discussed here, is whether the accused was
entitled to a stay of proceedings in the circumstances.
74 [1991] 3 S.C.R. 326.
75 Note that whereas Stinchombe addressed the duties of Crown officers, who are unquestionably
bound by the
Charter, third parties in possession of records pertaining to a complainant are not.
76 Thus the joint opinion stated that in cas es involving the production of third party records, “we
are concerned with the competing claims of a
constitutional right to privacy in the information,
on the one hand, and the right to full answer and defence on the other.”
O’Connor, at 433 -34
(emphasis added).
O’Connor, at 479.
78 Id., at 479-80.
79 Id. at 480.
80 Id.
81 Id. at 483.
82 Id. at 482.
83 Id. at 483.
84 Id.
85 Id. at 484.
86 Id. at 487 (emphasis added).
87 Id. at 486.
88 Id. at 490 (emphasis added).
89 Id. at 488.
90 Id.
91 Id.
92 Id.
93 Id. at 491.
Id. at 492.
95 Id. at 503.
96 [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668.
97 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 536, at 581.
98 Id. at 581-82.
99 [1997] 1 S.C.R. 80.
100 See Chapter Two.
101 [1997] 1 S.C.R. 157.
102 Id., at 171.
103 Id. at 175.
104 Mills, at 688.
105 Id.
106 Id. at 689.
107 Id.
108 Id. at 713.
109 Id. at 718.
110 Id. at 719.
111 Id. at 719-20.
112 Id. at 724.
113 Id. at 726.
114 Id. at 727.
115 Id. at 741.
116 Id. at 727.
117 Id.
118 Id. at 747.
119 [2000] 2 S.C.R. 443.
120 [1999] 1 S.C.R. 330.
121 [2002] S.C.C. 12.
122 Id. at para. 115.
1 The First Amendment state s that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of
speech or of the press”, and the prohibition also applies to the fifty states through the Fourteenth
Amendment. The Sixth Amendment which also binds the states as well as the federal
government, states that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused “shall enjoy the right of a
speedy and public trial”.
The United States Constitution.
2 S. Boylan, “Coffee From A Samovar: The Role of the Victim in the Criminal Procedure of
Russia and the Proposed Victim Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution” (1998), 4
U.C. Davis J. of Int’l L. & Pol’y 103, at 105.
3 See generally M. Joutsen, “Listening to the Victim: The Victim’s Role in European Criminal
Justice Systems”, (1987) 34
Wayne L. Rev. 95-124.
4 Id. at 115.
5 Though common law systems generally permit private prosecutions, criminal proceedings are
rarely initiated by private citizens, and the victims of crimes, otherwise, have been viewed as
witnesses with no independent status in the process.
6 See A. Goy, “The Victim -Plaintiff in Criminal Trials and Civil Law Responses to Sexual
Violence”, (1996) 3
Cardozo Women’s L.J. 335 -348; and W. T. Pizzi and W. Perron, “Crime
Victims in German Courtroons: A Comparative Perspective on American Probl ems”, (1996) 32

Stanford J. of Int’l L. 37-64.
7 Goy, id., at 336.
8 Pizzi and Perron, supra note 6, at 59.
9 Goy, supra note 6, at 340-41, and Pizzi and Perron, id., at 60-61. Further information about the
kind of public interest that will outweigh victim privacy was not provided.
10 See Chapter Two.
11 J.R. Spencer, “Improving the Position of the Victim in English Criminal Procedure”, (1997),
Israel L. Rev. 286, at 290.
12 Id.
13 Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976, s.4.
14 Spencer, supra note 11, at 291.
15 Id.
16 See Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 1992, c.34.
17 Spencer, supra note 11, at 291 (explaining the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, s.39).
18 Id.
19Id., at 286-87.
20 H. Reeves and K. Mulley, “The New Status of Victims in the UK: Opportunities and Th reats”,
in A. Crawford and J. Goodey, eds.
Integrating a Victim Perspective Within Criminal Justice:
International Debates
(Aldershot: Dartmouth Publishing Co. Ltd., 2000), at 125.
21 Id. at 134.
22 See Chapter Three.
23 S. Garkawe, “The Role of the Victim Du ring Criminal Court Proceedings” (1994), 17
U.N.S.W.L.J. 595, at 598.
24 M. Findlay, S. Odgers and S. Yeo, Australian Criminal Justice (Victoria: Oxford University
Press, 2
nd ed. 1999), at 344.
25 Victims Rights Act, 1996 No. 114 (N.S.W.).
26 Garkawe, supra note 23, at 602.
27 Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, s. 4(1) & (2).
28 Id., s. 5.
29 Id., s.6.
30 Id.
31 [1995] 1 N.Z.L.R. 539.
32 Id. at 546.
33 Id. at 546.
34 Id. at 544.
35 The Constitution Act, 1867, U.K. 30 & 31, c.3.
36 The First Amendment states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the
freedom speech, or of the press….”
The United States Constitution.
37 See, e.g., Canadian Newspapers v. Canada (A.G.), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 122 (upholding the ban on
publication of a sex crime victim’s identi ty); and
Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (A.G.), [1989] 2
S.C.R. 1326 (invalidating a publication ban on information revealed in matrimonial
proceedings); see Chapter Two.
38 Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937).
39 Note that the Fourth Amendment, which gua rantees the “right of the people to be secure …
against unreasonable searches and seizures”, is akin to s.8 of the Charter. Note also Griswold v.
, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) (discovering a constitutional right of privacy in the
“penumbras” emanating from the specific guarantees, as well as in other extra -textual sources of
But see Aubry v. Vice-Versa, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 591 (upholding liability, under Quebec’s Civil
, for the unauthorized publication of a photograph).
41 430 U.S. 829 (1977).
42 443 U.S. 97 (1979).
43 420 U.S. 469 (1975).
44 491 U.S. 524 (1989).
45 420 U.S. 469 (1975).
46 Cohn, at 487.
47 Id. at 491-92.
48 Id. at 494-95.
49 Id. at 495.
50 Id. at 496.
51 Id. at 496 (emphasis added).
52 430 U.S. 308 (1977).
53 427 U.S. 539 (1976).
54 Oklahoma Publishing, at 311.
55 443 U.S. 97 (1979).
56 Id. at 103.
57 Given that there were other ways to protect the confidentiality of juvenile proceedings,
criminal penalties were in the Court’s view unnecessary.
Id. at 105.
58 Id. at 109-10 (emphasis added).
59 491 U.S. 524 (1989).
60 Id. at 533.
61 Id. at 536.
62 Id. at 541.
63 Id. at 542 (citing Coker v. Georgia).
64 Id. at 545.
65 Id. at 553.
66 Id. (emphasis added).
67 Id.
68 448 U.S. 555 (1980).
69 Id. at 573.
70 Id. at 569.
71 Id. at 570.
72 Id. at 571.
73 Id. at 581.
74 See Chapter Two.
75 457 U.S. 596 (1982).
76 Id. at 607.
77 Id. at 609-10.
78 Id. at 610 (emphasis in original).
79 Id. at 615.
80 Id. at 616.
81 Id. at 617.
82 See Canadian Newspapers v. Canada, Chapter Two.
83 Id. at 618.
84 Id. at 619.
1 See H. Benedict, Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes (U.S.A.: Oxford
University Press, 1992).
2 See Chapter Three.
3 See Chapter Two.
4 Much, if not most, of the the discussion in the American literature is specific to the crime of
rape. As noted in Chapter Three, Canada has abandoned that offence and replaced it with a
series of offences which relate to sexual assault. The text in this part of the Chapter refers to
rape, sexual assault, and sexual offences without interrupting the discussio n to refine the
terminology on an ongoing basis.
5 Benedict, supra note 1, at 3.
6 Id.
7 Id. at 14-18. The myths she lists and describes in the pages cited are: rape is sex; the assailant
is motivated by lust; the assailant is perverted or crazy; the assa ilant is usually black or lower
class; women provoke rape; women deserve rape; only “loose” women are victimized; sexual
attack sullies the victim; rape is a punishment for past deeds; and women cry rape for revenge.
8 Id. at 18.
9 Id. at Preface.
10 Id. at 254.
11 See Chapter Four.
12 Smith v. Daily Publishing Co., 443 U.S. 97, at 108 (1979).
13 The Florida Star v. B.J.F., 491 U.S. 524, at 553 (1989).
14 Id. at 547.
15 Id.
16 Id. at 537.
17 Id.
18 M. Gartner, “Panel Discussion”, in Symposium: The Privacy Rights of Rape Victims in the
Media and the Law (1993), 61
Fordham L. Rev. 1133.
19 See Chapter Two.
20 D. Denno, “Perspectives on Disclosing Rape Victims’ Names”, in Symposium, supra note 18,
at 1129 (quoting Dershowitz).
21 Gartner, supra note 18.
22 S. Hutt, “In Praise of Public Access: Why the Government Should Disclose the Identities of
Alleged Crime Victims” (1991), 41
Duke L.J. 368, at 398 (quoting Nadine Strossen).
23 K. O’Brien, “South Carolina: Last Haven for Rape Victim Privacy?” (1999), 30 S.C.L. Rev.
873, at 880.
24 Gartner, supra note 18, at 1133.
25 Id.
26 Id.
27 P. Marcus and T. McMahon, “Limiting Disclosure of Rape Victims’ Identities” (1991), 64
Cal. L. Rev. 1019, at 1033.
28 H. Benedict, “Panel Discussion” in Symposium, supra note 18, at 1145.
29 Id.
30 S. Leone, “Protecting Rape Victims’ Identities: Balance Between the Right to Privacy and the
First Amendment” (1993), 27
New Eng; L. Rev. 883, at 911.
31 Gartner, supra note18, at 1133.
32 Id.
33 Id.
34 Marcus and McMahon, supra note 27, at 1034, n. 73 (quoting Ziegenmeyer).
35 [1995] 4 S.C.R. 707.
36 Id. at 712.
37 Id. at 721.
38 See Chapter Two.
39 R. v. Bernardo, [1993] O.J. No. 2047.
40 The Queen v. Bernardo, unreported decision of LeSage A.C.J.O.C., May 29, 1995.
41 Re Estate of French et al. v. Ontario (Attorney General), (1996) 134 D.L.R. (4th) 587 (On.
Gen. Div.);
aff’d (1998), 122 C.C.C. (3d) 449 (O.C.A.).
42 See generally, B. MacFarlane and H. Keating, “Horrific Video Tape as Evidence: Balancing
Open Court and Victim’s Privacy” (1999), 41
Crim. L. Q. 413.
R. v. Bernardo, [1993] O.J. No. 2047.
44 Id. at para. 141.
45 Id. at para. 142.
46 Id. at para.137.
47 Id. at para. 140.
48 Id. at para. 75.
49 Id. at para. 76.
50 Id. at pare. 83.
51 Id. at para. 86.
52 Id. at paras. 134-35.
53See Chapter Two.
K. Davey, Karla’s Web (Toronto: Penguin Books Canada, 1994) at 40.
55 Id.
56 Id. at 40-41.
57 Id. at 94-95.
58 The Ontario Court of Appeal quashed an appeal from the order of Kovacs J., on the ground
that there was no right of appeal to the appellate court from the trial judge’s decision. (1994), 95
C.C.C.(3d) 437 (O.C.A.).
59 See Chapter Two.
60 As John Rosen, who was acting for Bernardo, explained, the parents of the two deceased girls
are no different from the parents of other victims of murder. R. v. Bernardo, (1995) 38 C.R. (4th)
229, at 234 (Ont. Gen. Div.).
61 Id. at 236.
62 Id. at 237.
63 Id.
64 The Queen v. Bernardo, unreported decision of LeSage A.C.J.O.C., May 29, 1995, at 35-36
(emphasis added).
65 The application for leave to appeal was filed on June 2, 1995 and dismissed, w ithout reasons,
on June 13, 1995.
66 Re Estate of French et al. v. Ontario (Attorney General) (1996), 134 D.L.R. (4th) 587 (Ont.
Gen. Div.);
aff’d (1998), 122 C.C.C. (3d) 449 (O.C.A.).
67 (1999), 38 O.R. (30) 347 (O.C.A.).
68 Id., at 357-58.
69 See C. Blatchford, “Destroying evidence sets an eerie precedent”, National Post, December
22, 2001.
70 This is the question posed by the third step of the Oakes proportionality test. There, the
question is only asked after a
Charter violation has survived the other parts of the analysis.
Here, the question is asked in a more abstract or reflective way.
71 Bernardo, supra note 39, at 36.
72 Id. at 37.
73 Id.
74 Karla: A Pact With the Devil (Canada: Cantos International, 2003).