Naming Sexual Assault Complainants in the Media: What to think about

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Naming Sexual Assault Complainants in the Media: What to think about

Session hashtag: #CAJ16assaultThe Jian Ghomeshi trial triggered fierce debate about sexual assault complainants and the role of media; two of the complainants had shared their stories in the media before criminal charges were laid. One of the women initially opted for anonymity, the other, Lucy De Coutere, insisted on public identification.And so will future complainants.Publicly revealing their identity requires both the journalist and the complainant to walk a careful line. On one hand, it is important to ensure a complainant understands all that can flow from deciding to be interviewed and identified-they no longer control their story, the social media response can be toxic and, even years later, a search engine will almost certainly connect their name with that story. If the case proceeds to trial, statements to the media can be used by the defence against the complainant during cross-examination. And complainants must understand that while the journalist may believe their story, they still have a professional obligation to try and verify it.These issues will be discussed from a variety of perspectives: media law and ethics, and as well as the experiences of sexual assault complainants dealing with the media. This workshop will offer discussion and guidance on best practices.

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