Updated: A petition calling for a federal inquiry after a man found guilty of sexual assault was able to walk away as a free man has garnered more than 28,000 signatures.
Jeeti Pooni and her two sisters were raped and sexually abused by their cousin in Williams Lake, and after breaking their silence in 2006 began a decade long fight for justice.
Despite being found guilty in April 2018, an application asking for a stay of proceedings was granted after their rapist alleged his rights to a timely trial were breached.
“The bewildering thing is that he was the one who asked for so many adjournments and was granted each and every adjournment that he asked for, so when you delay the case so long how can that same person benefit from delaying the case and claiming that his rights were breached? What about our rights?” Jeeti said.
“It’s just been very heartbreaking, very disappointing, and obviously my sisters and I we want other girls, other boys, anybody who has been harmed to come forward, but a message like this I mean what does it send about the Canadian justice system?”
As well as a federal inquiry, Pooni said they are also hoping that Crown Counsel will appeal.
She said she is not all surprised that her and her sisters’ petition has garnered thousands of signatures as so many people want change in a justice system that is beyond broken.
“I personally call it a dinosaur because it’s an ancient system and policymakers, lawmakers know it’s broken so I don’t understand why there is no urgency in fixing laws and policies or shutting down loopholes in allowing people like him to walk free.”
Pooni currently resides Cloverdale. She said one of her goals is to bring her and her sisters’ documentary Because We Are Girls to their hometown of Williams Lake sometime soon.
“One thing that has kept me going is faith and I have faith,” Pooni said.
“I do have faith that Crown will appeal and in regards to an inquiry into this case it all depends on just not myself and my sisters making noise but also the public because there are multi-million dollars spent on this case which is public money and I think the public has the right to know and they have the right to know exactly what went wrong in this case and what loopholes criminals are using to get away with creating horrific crimes, committing horrific crimes against us Canadians.”
Despite the many disappointments, Pooni added that she encourages anyone who has experienced sexual trauma to reach out for support.
“Don’t let the trauma dictate the rest of your life because you can still thrive and flourish and my sisters and I are an example of that.”
(Editor’s Note: Listen to Jeeti Pooni in the audio file below.)