Volume 93, Issue 67

Friday, January 28, 2000


NEWS

Monaco drops from prez race

Forum profits from Millionaire

French's courageous mother visits campus

London police say city's crime rate is on the rise

Brown down with the people

Accessibility tops Chiba's priorities

What councellors won't tell you

Bass Ackwards

French's courageous mother visits campus



By Kevin Taylor
Gazette Writer

The media spotlight has debilitating effects on the rights of high profile victims, said Donna French, who was on campus yesterday to discuss the issue with Western students.

French, the mother of the late Kristen French, spoke to an attentive crowd on behalf of the Criminal Law Association at Western. Her daughter was one of two victims who were sexually abused and murdered by Paul Bernardo and Carla Homolka in April of 1992.

French said she often speaks publicly in high schools, universities and at major conferences about the highly publicized trial her family endured in the mid 1990s. She focused specifically on informing the public of the role the event has played in their lives. "It was every parent's worst nightmare and it was happening to us," she said.

"There is no privacy. Our lives are an open book," French said. "We felt totally betrayed," she added, explaining the blitz of media attention to her family made them feel uncomfortable.

The see-saw battle which resulted in the courts allowing controversial videotapes to be shown to the media, was the most significant issue with which her family dealt, she said. "The media said it was their right as the media to view [the tapes]."

Chloe Mathieu, a second-year law student and co-chair of the Criminal Law Association, said she was pleased to hear French share her ordeal. "I think it's important to hear what [the victims] have to say so we can remember to be compassionate," she said. "I am very personally interested in what she has to say."

President of the association and second-year law student Michael Rubinoff also expressed high interest in the case. "We often forget about the other victims that are still alive. It's amazing that she can have such courage to tell this story. The reaction she has had on me is unbelievable," Rubinoff said.

French added she would encourage people to write letters to politicians at all levels to highlight the issue of victims' rights.

"Our justice system has become so askew. The courts should pursue the truth and deal with it accordingly," she said.

"I want to make people aware that victims have so few rights."


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Copyright The Gazette 2000