Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert Baltovich
This past Wednesday, the Toronto Star gave Rosie DiManno space to vent her long-standing grievance with Robert Baltovich. Today I’ve asked Derek Finkle, whose book on the subject is a cornerstone of Baltovich’s public defence, to respond. Herewith is his guest blog:
Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert BaltovichBy Derek Finkle
With so many people calling for an inquiry into the legal travesty that is the Robert Baltovich case, perhaps it’s also time to contemplate an inquiry into how it is that Rosie DiManno remains a columnist at the Toronto Star.
In her coverage of the Baltovich acquittal this week, DiManno garnered attention for something other than her notoriously bad prose, which could be favourably described as Ann Coulter on acid. Except for the somewhat wishy-washy (and equally predictable) Christie Blatchford, DiManno was the only commentator of any note to twist—without evidence—the long-anticipated collapse of the Crown’s case into a thinly veiled attack on the notion of Baltovich’s innocence.
But by no means did her attack begin this week. She has long been on a one-woman campaign to belittle not just Baltovich, but anyone who dared question the extremely troubling circumstantial case being mounted against him. It started in 2003: DiManno blew a gasket when she discovered that Baltovich had landed a summer internship at the Star’s library—an uninformed knee-jerk reaction publicly opposed by her own boss, the paper’s then-publisher John Honderich. Earlier this month, she dismissed some of the best reporters in the city as Baltovich’s “acolytes.” (Given DiManno’s relationship with the parents of Elizabeth Bain, who are as convinced of Baltovich’s guilt as DiManno, one could safely file this under “Hypocrisy.” See also: “Paranoia.”) My book about the case, No Claim to Mercy, was, according to DiManno, actually a “hagiographic” biography. Even worse, during Baltovich’s appeal in 2004, she reportedly picked up a copy of the book that belonged to the woman seated beside her and declared, apropos of nothing, that it was a “piece of shit.”
But, hey, I’m not alone. She has also slagged James Lockyer—Baltovich’s lead counsel, a man who helped exonerate David Milgaard and Guy Paul Morin, and almost single-handedly dragged the Canadian criminal justice system into the 21st century—for being righteous and supposedly full of himself. All I can say, Rosie, is that some people earn the right to carry an oversized ego, and, well, some people don’t.
DiManno also took Lockyer to task over his assertion that Paul Bernardo could very well be the person who killed Elizabeth Bain. Clearly, DiManno wasn’t sharing files with some of the Star reporters who were actually present for the pre-trial arguments. (Though it appears she imposed her scattered logic on some of the Bernardo evidence the following day.)
DiManno seems remarkably moved by the denial offered by Bernardo from prison last summer regarding his involvement in Bain’s disappearance, a response DiManno simplified down to a single word: “No.” Again, it might have been a good idea for her to read the full transcript of what Bernardo actually said; it was also published in her paper. And by the way, since when does Bernardo’s word count for anything anyway?
Not surprisingly, the profound wackiness of DiManno’s latest anti-Baltovich columns has been commented on outside Toronto—as far away as Winnipeg, in fact. Free Press reporter Dan Lett pretty much nails it, and so I will give him the closing word:
It’s easy to be outraged about the brutal murder of a young woman. It’s a horrible, horrible crime, and any reasonable person with even a remote grasp on sanity would be outraged. But it’s lazy and wilfully ignorant to dismiss the problems with the investigation and prosecution of any heinous crime and instead continue to harp on and on about how outraged you are about the crime.
(For more evidence of the laziness and wilful ignorance to which Lett refers, please see today’s column—Rosie’s latest exercise in denial.)
3 thoughts on “Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert Baltovich”
by Ray Collingham
So much can be said about the circumstances surrounding Mr. David Dewees’ suicide. Was he guilty and felt depressed over his actions or was he innocent and could not face his peers, family, friends and students after the media labelled him a sex offender?
Should ones identity be made public when faced with an allegation of a sexual crime? On one hand, yes, the public should be made aware that if there is a previously convicted sexual predator out on bail or roaming the streets, as a parent I am sure you would want to be informed. On the other hand, what about those people who are not guilty and have never been previously charged. False accusations are real and are becoming more frequent as people realize that nothing happens to you after falsely accusing someone. Once accused of a sexual crime you are stigmatized, possibly for life. Contrary to Canadian law, you are immediately labelled and at least, suspected of being guilty. The realism that you might be innocent rarely crosses your mind as you read titles in the newspaper like “accused pedophile” or “Acclaimed Sex offender”. But the truth is that false allegations are very real and are extremely destructive to the person accused and to his/her family members and friends.
When I was arrested in July of 2007, my name and picture were publicized throughout the Canadian news. I was front page news in many cities. Headlines with words such as ‘pedophile’, ‘sex offender’, and ‘child predator’ have all been associated with my name and my picture. I had no history of sexual assault, I had no complaints of sexual misconduct, there was no reason to make my identity known. The police will tell you that the public needs to know if there was other ‘victims’. They needed to inform the public so other children, if any, could come forward.
Having said that, there is a time and a place for everything. The time to make some one’s identity known to the public, in some circumstances, should only be made if there is an admission of guilt or the court have found the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Once this decision is made, only then should pictures and names become available. Then the time for other victims may come forward.
Publishing an accused person’s identity, when there is no history and only one complainant, is an injustice, not only to the accused but to the accused person’s family, friends and peers. My family was devastated. I was ‘fired’ publicly. The organizations I was involved in all suspended my memberships publicly. Facing everyone I knew was very difficult. I was embarrassed, humiliated and depressed. I lost my career, as did my partner. I lost my life savings, everything I owned. I lost the innocence I had with working with children. My actions were/are almost always analyzed. Did I stare to long, where was I looking, should I hug my nephew, how long should I hug him, it was terrible.
I was acquitted in July 2009. I thought after my acquittal I would feel some sort of mental relief, in some aspects I do. The uncertainty of not knowing whether or not I was going to be spending the next few years in prison was relieving, but the feelings of wondering what people still really think, the feelings of mistrusting people and their motives all remain. The after math psychologically has had a tremendous effect on not only myself, but all of the people closest to me.
For Mr. Dewees, we will never know if he is innocent or guilty. But if we believe in our system of justice he must remain innocent. It is his family that will now have to face all the feelings of humiliation and the wonderment of what happened or didn’t happen.
Did David Dewees commit suicide because his identity was made public? Could he face his students, his co-workers and friends, knowing the stigma attached to being accused of a sexual crime? We will never know but I can sure tell you I had thought about ending it all. Following through with it may be a different story, but I can sympathize with Mr. Dewees in his feelings.
Our laws need to reflect the sensitivity of sexual crimes against children and the person accused. Guilty or innocent, this crime is life altering. Society has a role in protecting the innocent against further injustices.
what does this have to do with Baltovich?
DiManno may be alone in writing it, but she’s certainly not alone in thinking that Baltovich is guilty of Elizabeth Bain’s disappearance and/or death. As for slagging a lawyer — DiManno’s definitely not alone in that. Like any lawyer, Lockyer isn’t charged with the duty of finding out and revealing the truth; he’s charged with the duty of defending his clients. He may be very good at what he’s paid to do (presenting and highlighting only that information which supports his arguments), but Lockyer’s (or any lawyer’s) success is no affirmation of his clients’ innocence.
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