Sexual Assault Trials and the Role of the Complainant

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 17:30to19:00
Chancellor Day Hall Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Patricia Allen Memorial Lecture with Professor Elaine Craig, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University.


Less than one percent of the sexual assaults that occur each year in Canada result in legal sanction for those who commit these offences. In part this is because over ninety percent of sexual assaults in Canada go unreported. One of the main reasons women do not report their experiences of sexual violence stems from distrust and fear the criminal justice process. Unfortunately, these fears are well founded. This talk will examine the ways in which the legal profession unnecessarily contributes to the trauma of the trial for many of those who testify as sexual assault complainants. Relying on trial transcripts, interviews with experienced lawyers across Canada, reported case law, lawyer memoirs, and public statements by the defence bar, the talk will explore avenues to improve the experience of complainants without eroding the constitutionally protected rights of the accused.

About the speaker

Elaine Craig is an associate professor at Schulich School of Law where she teaches constitutional law and gender, sexuality and law. She is the author of Troubling Sex: Towards a Legal Theory of Sexual Integrity (UBP Press, 2012) and Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession (McGill-Queens University Press, 2018).

Patricia Allen Memorial Lecture

Created in 1992 by the Class of 88 in memory of Patricia Allen, an alumna of the Faculty who was tragically and senselessly murdered, this annual lectureship is devoted to sensitizing and educating the legal community and others about pressing social and legal issues related to violence, especially against women. This lecture is affiliated with the Annie MacDonald Langstaff series.

We have requested accreditation by a recognized provider for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education for jurists.

Please note that while the location is wheelchair-accessible, construction work around the Faculty and the closure of McIntyre garage have made reaching our building more complicated. See our explainer on how to best reach the Faculty, which includes information for people with reduced mobility.

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