Sexual assault victim wants the public to know her name
Court practice of protecting the identity of victims often inadvertently protects the perpetrators as well
Krystal Augustine wants you to know she was molested by her father.
She wants you to know his name is Robert Augustine.
Sadly, it is not unusual for cases of historical sexual assault involving family to be heard in our courthouse.
What is rare about this case though, and what drew me to Justice Toni Skarica’s courtroom Monday, is that Krystal, 32, asked to have the normal publication ban lifted on her matter.
That is the publication ban that is automatically imposed by the court with the intention of protecting victims of sexual assault by keeping their identities secret.
“I have fear there are other victims and I want them to have the courage to come forward,” Krystal says.
“I know how hard it is to come forward.”
In cases of familial sexual assault, like Krystal’s, a ban protecting the identity of the victim often inadvertently protects the offender as well.
If Krystal’s name was kept secret, her father’s name would be kept secret too, because his name combined with the fact he is her biological father, would make it possible to identify her.
A jury found Robert guilty of sexual assault and sexual interference regarding Krystal when she was between the ages of three and nine.
During the sentencing hearing Monday, Skarica said: “I find that the accused sexually molested his daughter many times and over many years.”
Court heard about Robert climbing into the bathtub with his daughter when she was three, giving her “big kisses” and rubbing himself on her.
It heard he regularly touched her vagina and masturbated in front of her.
“Most little girls are read stories about monsters and heroes, never expecting they exist in the world,” Krystal wrote in her victim impact statement.
“In my case, the monster was my father and the hero never existed until I had the courage as an adult to speak up.”
The trial heard that a police officer who investigated the case spoke to Robert’s mother about the sexual assault allegations.
She admitted her son said: “I touched her. I knew it was wrong. I don’t know why I did it.”
Robert, 56, was supported in court by his current wife and about 10 other family members and friends.
Krystal was not in court because she is eight months pregnant with her second child and her doctor advised her to avoid the stress. I spoke to her immediately after the hearing.
Skarica sentenced Robert solely on the sexual interference charge because it is essentially the same conviction as the sexual assault charge, but specifically relates to a victim under the age of 14.
Even after giving Robert 15 months credit for time served, the judge sentenced him to three years in prison.
Robert whispered a few words to his wife as a special constable escorted him out of the courtroom.
The automatic publication ban on the identities of sexual assault victims came into being about 30 years ago in Canada. But in recent months, and with several high profile cases, victims have chosen to have the ban lifted to put their names and faces to their stories.
Lucy DeCoutere did this with her allegations against CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi. In that case, he was acquitted of five charges and a sixth was withdrawn after he signed a peace bond.
By then, DeCoutere’s private life had been exposed to the world.
There is a trend toward victims wanting to be identified, though the numbers are still small, says Lenore Lukasik-Foss, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre for Hamilton and Area.
“There is more support for survivors who are coming forward and survivors are wanting community accountability for the perpetrator,” she says. “It is a very strong statement … “They feel if they’re invisible, change isn’t going to happen. It’s the survivor saying ‘I want the community to know this person did this.’”
“The reality is, I haven’t done anything wrong,” says Krystal.
“There’s a stigma attached to victims and I shouldn’t be ashamed … The truth was told.”
I have fear there are other victims and I want them to have the courage to come forward. SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM KRYSTAL AUGUSTINE