The influence of the court of public opinion.

By Brittney Matejka
February 15, 2018 - 5:49pm Updated: February 15, 2018 - 7:31pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB. - Hedley played at the Canalta Centre last night and has recently been in the media for accusations of sexual misconduct.

Many people took to social media to share their thoughts and some with the viewpoint of guilt without stepping into a courtroom.

Retired lawyer said social media has given people a platform to project their viewpoints to large audiences when accusations like these are made.

“You can just sit anonymously at home and pop stuff onto Twitter and Facebook quick and easy,” he said. “It’s very hard for the person to defend themselves.”

The band released a statement calling the allegations “unsubstantiated.”

Jim Groom, a legal instructor at Medicine Hat College, said the public needs to let the legal system do its job before placing blame.

“We still need to have a balanced approach,” he said. “Those people who are accused have to be innocent until proven guilty.”

Cocks explained people need to take into account they may not know all the information when accusations are made.

“Be slow when it comes to judgment,” he said. “You don't know what the true situation is until you have all the facts in front of you.”

The previous Ontario PC Leader, Patrick Brown also has accusations of alleged sexual misconduct. He has since launched a lawsuit against CTV News.

Groom said he would be proceeding with legal action for defamation of character.

“He would be suggesting that it was based on unsubstantiated accusations by anonymous individuals,” he said. “CTV didn't do their homework by checking all potential ramification and if there were any independent witnesses to it.”

Christina Johnson with SARC said they have seen an increase in all genders of survivors coming forward due to social media movements like “Me too” and “Ì believe you.”

“We know that 98% of disclosures are true which leads to only 2% being false,” she said.

Johnson explained one in three women and one in six men experience sexual violence, and the importance of offering support to survivors.

“It's important for us as citizens to believe survivors,” she said. “Not try and convict who are accused through different sources, we can leave that up to the justice system.”

Johnson said after years of silence people are feeling safer to come forward and disclose any situations of sexual abuse.

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