Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Trial

"I had repeatedly said no to Tony. I also said I don't do flings. I am not promiscuous."
"I needed a friend, not a sex maniac. I had no idea he [was] coming over to get in my pants."
"I find it cowardly to go after the weak. [She felt] victimized and violated."
"I will hurt and never get over this. He needs to understand how devastating this is to me."
Rachelle Denis' letter to Cecile El-Kassis
Ottawa courthouse
The Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street in Ottawa.
This is part of a letter, a cry for help and for understanding, that a young woman wrote to an older woman. The older woman was the wife of the older man who had raped and continued to aggressively sexually pursue the young woman who had always viewed him as a father figure. That 'father figure' had been a close personal friend of the young woman's step-father. So close a family friend that the young woman had asked Tony El-Kassis to be a godfather to her youngest child.

Rachelle Dennis felt emotionally vulnerable when her husband left her and their children. She was in emotional turmoil, and needed a friend, particularly an old friend, all the more so, an older friend who would be like an avuncular, caring aid in giving her the emotional support she needed to surmount her state of despair. Instead, he raped her. He had already pursued her sister who had also been a target of the sexual predator.

Now Rachelle Dennis is on trial on a charge of second-degree murder. She is accused of deliberately ramming Tony El-Kassis driving her Jeep directly into the man, the force jamming him into a brick wall of the Richmond Plaza. His injuries mortally severe, causing his death in the days to follow. That death came about in the wake of months of what the wife of Tony El-Kassis characterized as harassment. Brought about by his having confessed to his wife that he had been having 'affairs', but meant to cut off all contact with Rachelle Denis.

And he did, and her reaction was one of confusion and additional despair; the man who had soiled her opinion  of him by a violent sexual attack, then continued to press himself on her at a time when she needed a quiet and unassuming friend but whose predations she accommodated, was abandoned for a second time by yet another man who had used and abused her. Her reaction was to pursue him, and in the effort seeking some kind of justice.

Police had been  brought into the picture on several occasions; originally when Rachelle Denis had reported the rape, and later when Tony and Cecile El-Kassis reported the harassment they claimed that Rachelle Denis continually exposed them to. Ottawa police Constable Joseph Brownrigg responded to the call by the El Kassis couple, arriving to separate the aggrieved woman, seemingly rational but weeping, and her oppressor.

She handed the police constable the letter she had written to the wife of the man. A letter explaining that she was suffering from postpartum depression, that she had informed the man who assaulted her sexually that she was in the throes of a mental illness, in psychosis, suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. In short, wholly vulnerable, in no condition for anyone to take advantage of her, needing desperately someone to support her emotionally, not abuse her.

Constable Brownrigg testified that the man requested him to forward a final warning to Rachelle Denis to leave him alone, fearful the situation might escalate violently, requiring him to defend himself. Because the police constable did not feel the woman met the criteria for detention under the Mental Health Act, he did nothing more, not believing she represented a danger to herself or anyone else.

Another constable who investigated the harassment complaint testified as well; that Rachelle Denis had been fixated in explaining to Cecile El-Kassis about the affair, something she was by then aware of. As for the letter; Tony El-Kassis grabbed it, read the first few lines, handed it over to his wife who also read only the first few lines. Neither terribly interested in reading about the anguish and mortification of the young woman whom the husband had abused.

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