Sexual Assault Survivor Jailed With Her Attacker Out Of Fear She Wouldn’t Testify

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Many things were done wrong to the woman near the end of her short life.

Once, when she was 27 and living homeless in Edmonton, she was dragged screaming into a man’s apartment, held down, had her clothes ripped off, then was choked, stabbed and violated.

The next year, another man accidentally shot and killed her.

But it’s the revelation of what was done to the woman between her sexual assault and her death that has outraged and scandalized the Canadian justice system.

For five days in 2015, as the woman testified against and helped convict Lance David Blanchard, 59, of kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, she was locked up alongside him — as much a prisoner as her attacker.

They were brought from jail to court in the same prison van. Sometimes they were held in nearly adjacent cells. The woman testified in leg shackles though she was accused of no crime, simply because prosecutors feared she might not show up to court the next day — though she had never failed to do so.

“The facts of this case are disturbing and tragic, and when you add in the treatment of the victim in the system, they are almost incomprehensible,” Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley told reporters Monday, after details of the woman’s treatment were first reported by CBC News.

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