Sunday, September 30, 2007

Trauma-Rama

There's a story of intense complexity emerging out of Manitoba right now.

It's incredibly complicated but what I wish to focus on here is this: A former soldier, who had served in Bosnia, admitted to having sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl upon his return to Canada. He was let off without jail time because his lawyers argued that he suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder (Good o'l PTSD). Now, they are ordering a new trial because apparently his previous lawyers had failed to prove that he did in fact suffer from PTSD. So right now there's a re-trial.

This case is important because it's the first time someone successfully used war-related PTSD as a defense and won. This is important to note because:

In 2003, an Alberta judge rejected PTDS as a defence for a former soldier who rammed his sport-utility vehicle into a military office and assaulted a military police officer.


Now... I have many many critiques of the medical model of care, especially in issues of sexual assault. But those are for another time and another day. My issue here is hum...

- Man comes back from war, rams his car into a military structure and assaults an officer and this is deemed NOT RELATED TO HIS TIME AT WAR

- But, buddy sexually assaults his friend's 14 year old daughter and that is deemed completely related to PTSD.

Someone stop this train wreck and explain that to me.

Now I'm not naive and I do know quite a bit about PTSD and even more about the critiques of it (mostly how it's a giant umbrella term thrown over everything that ranges from war to incest). But I have a really, really hard time understanding how this guy was able to prove that going to war, and in this case Bosnia which relatively speaking, was pretty tame for the Canadian soldiers, made him sexually assault an innocent Canadian girl. Especially considering the events he said led him to become so scarred for life are now being dis-proven. Buddy didn't even have proof that the events he claimed made him go loco even occurred.

This case is so unbelievably complicated. Did he, in fact suffer from PTSD? Can PTSD make you sexually assault someone, considering the trauma this man claims to have been suffering from was not in fact sexual in nature? As in, he didn't suffer PTSD from ritual abuse or incest, he witnessed the desolation of Bosnia. And if he did suffer from PTSD and it was (although I highly doubt it) the reason for his assault, who's responsible? The Canadian government for sending him there? The military recruitment office, for encouraging him to be there in the first place?

Who is truly responsible in this case? And is that what even matters?

*ponder*

2 comments:

Ren said...

Wow - this is tricky.

I didn't read the case, but it sounds like he got off on a misdemeanour. Also, it's -really- up to the jury to decide unless the Judge overules - which rarely happens.
The issue with juries is that people are rarely impartial. It could have been that there were alot of jury members coming from military backgrounds, and not enough with young women in their families.
I'm really glad the case is getting retrialed because honestly, you need to proove without a reasonable doubt EVERYTHING in court. Very tricky indeed.
Thanks for this article - I'm eager to research it. But shame on the Canadian Legal system none the less.
-Ren

you're favourate man in green! said...

I've heard about this case. The PTSD claim is total and utter bullshit in the rape case. I am 100% certain and have talked to others who were over there at the same time. This is just some sicko who should be shot (that was the consensus at my unit, anyhow) As for the jeep ramming thing... it's actually happened a few times! Someone I know actually did this in Petawawa, a terrific soldier who excelled overseas. Upon returning he decided he no longer liked the idea of shooting people in the face and tried to get out. When the man in charge refused to let him out...CRASH, WHAM, SMACK... Total PTSD (different incident that the one you're referring to, but similar) I could see PTSD in the second case, but maybe more of a PMSD (Post moronic stress disorder) from working for some class act people.