Justice Marvin A. Zuker who presided over the trial of Mandi Gray versus Mustafa Ururyar was described as “a 30-year veteran of the Family Court of the Ontario Court of Justice, and an Associate Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
He has made prolific contributions to scholarship at the intersection of educational, criminal, and family law, including youth criminal justice, the impact of legislative changes, and the rights and responsibilities of parents, school councils, and private schools.
Zuker’s work has helped educators to understand the legal context in which they operate. A notable advocate for the rights of women and children, he is the co-author of Canadian Women and the Law, Children’s Law Handbook, Education Law, and Inspiring the Future: A New Teacher’s Guide to the Law, among other titles. He is also a frequent presenter to educators and legal professionals.”
In 2012, when Zuker was asked by Victoria Starr to write a retrospective of his career in the Family law section of the Ontario Barr Association bulletin, he was happy to oblige.
Click here to read it. He clearly states his interest in family law, and his acute awareness that there was no such a thing as equality between women and men and the notion that all people are equal under the law was only a dream.
I will agree with his statements about equality, especially considering his ripe age, but we all know that men have been at the bottom of the totem pole in matters of child custody and child support since the rise of divorce and in matters of domestic violence. It is still routine for the cops to arrest the man if there is a domestic violence call of any kind.
In his recent verdict in the Mandi Gray trial, the judge illustrated very well the notion of all people not being equal under the law. At least, not in his courtroom if you are a male accused of rape.
In 1970, he co-authored a book with now deceased journalist/activist June Callwood called Canadian Women and the Law. In 1976 came The Law is Not for Women.
He also mentions reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou’s autobiography which became a constant in his life. It is really all about four words: The Future of Hope.
So when it was mentioned in his decision after declaring Mustafa Ururyar guilty, it was not because of Miss Gray’s tattoo commemorating her alleged rape, but because it is part of his mantra.
He describes his role as a Family Court judge as also being one of psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker and, yes, parent. He goes on to say ‘’It is great to know the law, although we have appeal courts to set us straight, but what about all these intangibles? Talk about bringing our own history and background to the table, to the Bench.’’
Zuker is basically describing himself as much more than a judge who has to uphold the law without any personal bias. He embraces the fact that he brings his history and background to the table. The court relies on psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers and listens to the parents, but the judge does not have that kind of expertise. Having some skills is one thing, but to fancy yourself a multifaceted expert is a completely different bowl of legal cherries.
The tragic case of Inara Amarsi is proof that even with the best of intentions, the court and its judges are fallible when it comes to family law. Z chastised Inara’s father for wanting control and nothing but control (same words he used for Ururyar), but relented and let him have the child overnight. During a standoff with police, the suicidal father threw his daughter onto Highway 401 and later killed himself by jumping 15 meters to his death.
Click here to read about the case and how Zuker felt regret.
We could agree that the path to success for Justice Zuker was paved with good intentions, but as they say, could also lead to hell.
It is also fair to say that Z encountered a few ethical bumps along the road. In 2005, when he found out that some court transcripts would be used in appeal, he committed judicial misconduct by altering them. An Ontario Judicial Council let him off the hook because he was contrite and also because of his illustrious career and the emotional stress he suffered because of the media coverage. Suffice to say that it sent shock waves through the legal community and a petition circulated to have him removed. Click here to read about it.
At the time, the Canadian Family Forum through canadacourtwatch.com, wrote of their indignation at Z not being held accountable for his transgressions and being allowed to teach at the University of Toronto. In the same token, we learn that a respected Toronto lawyer indicated that Zuker had once plagiarized his own legal writings in one of his rulings. Click here to read article.
This is what Dahn Batchelor wrote on his opinion page about the good judge. “Mr Justice Marvin Zuker, family court judge in Toronto whom I have had the pleasure of appearing before as an advocate for several clients, made a terrible blunder while conducting a trial. He used profane language at one point in a case he was presiding over and after realizing what he had done, he arranged to have the profanity erased from the transcript.”
“Section 139. (1) of the Canadian Criminal Code states that every one who willfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding, is guilty of: (c) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or (d) an offence punishable on summary conviction. The Criminal Code is clear and refers to ‘every one’ in Canada.
It is also very clear in that it states, “in any manner to obstruct justice in a judicial proceeding.” There are no exceptions made for judges to obstruct justice and in fact the Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, the Honorable Beverly McLaughlin stated on June 3, 2004, “In a democracy, everyone from the simplest citizen to the highest politician, must conduct themselves in accordance with the law.”
Click here to read the page about terrible judges.
On an even stranger note, in 2011, a man named Dong Nguyen, 55, had pleaded guilty at Old City Hall court to beating three baby raccoons with a shovel, probably killing one and breaking another’s foreleg, because they were destroying his garden.
He had made 19 court appearances before his defense lawyer struck a deal by which a dangerous weapons charge was withdrawn and he received a conditional discharge on the charge of cruelty to animals.
Z made sure to give the man a much stiffer sentence than the defense had anticipated. Click here to read the article. I wonder if he considered Nguyen’s illustrious career, remorse or stress due to media coverage or the fact that he perceived raccoons as pest?
Mandi Gray versus Mustafa Ururyar
I do not understand why the trial of Mustafa Ururyar took place in a domestic violence court. Mandi and Mustafa were not married, cohabiting partners or remotely a couple. They knew each other since two weeks and had only gone on a few dates. They were friends with benefits because Mustafa had a girlfriend since a few years who had agreed to be in an open relationship while they were not living in the same town. A fact Mandi was aware of at the time.
At first, I thought that the case was in domestic violence court because there is a difference between a date gone bad and being assaulted by a stranger. It can lead to a peace bond or in the best of possible worlds, a restorative justice session, community service or a plea; depending on the circumstances and the gravity of the alleged offense.
The trial started on the same day as the Ghomeshi trial and has been coasting on its coat tails ever since the media got interested in it. Ghomeshi was found not guilty and his trial has absolutely nothing to do with this case, but the media and extreme feminists love to knit a sweater with all the links they can find so that it becomes a one size fits all against men.
Gray and Ururyar were PHD students at York university when they met a year before the case went to trial. It was a typical he says/she says situation, and I am surprised that it ended up in court, considering the evidence provided at trial, and the unproven nature of the claim.
I do not understand why Miss Gray waived her right to a publication ban and complains of being chastised on social media or in the press. She had every right to remain anonymous and not have her name associated to the testimony she supposedly found so difficult and embarrassing. According to her website, she did not want to remain another Jane Doe.
In fact, not unlike Lucy DeCoutere, it appears that she wants to become the emblem for victims everywhere, and thinks that the police should not be involved in such cases; not unlike pesky raccoons stepping on your flowerbeds.
She showed up in court with her entourage of feminists, got prepped for a month before the trial and was represented by David Butt; a Toronto lawyer who provides legal assistance to victims of sexual assault. Some of his proposals sound fine and dandy until you hear him quote flawed statistics and express views that could only put most men at a disadvantage.
I totally agree with helping rape victims but every case is different and should be treated as such. It is delusional to think we could have special courts where all women would be believed unconditionally or to move to a civil court model. It is a criminal act that has to get its day in court and not be compared to other cases. There is no cookie-cutter solution.
Saying that most cases result in an acquittal is a myth. The same way that saying that most women do not report sexual assault is unfair because it is based on surveys that are flawed.
When you find out that 50% of the females surveyed said they did not report assaults because they were not important, you know that they were asked about any unpleasant contacts. A survey in the US had a high percentage of women saying that they were assaulted but did not know it at the time.
Many cases don’t make it to trial because they are dropped or there is a guilty plea, and according to Statistics Canada, of the complaints that do proceed to trial, fewer than 50 per cent end up with a finding of guilty, which is mathematically way more than what the media and some advocates assert.
Click here to read a page from Statistics Canada on how other types of crime are not reported, do not end up with a guilty verdict or do not go to trial.
The system is far from perfect across the board, and sexual assault victims can find the process especially grueling, but the answer is not to relax the burden of proof, and to stretch the boundaries of the definition of sexual assault.
There is no such thing as victimless crimes; sexual or otherwise, and there is no such thing as perfect justice or redress considering the various outcomes, types of punishment, wrongful convictions and the damage done to victims and all involved.
According to Gray, on the morning of January 31, 2015, she was raped by Mustafa Ururyar at his apartment where she went willingly after inviting herself, and having sent him an earlier text asking if he wanted to meet for hot sex. A fact she omitted to divulge when she reported the incident to the police.
She described herself as a little tipsy on the way to Mustafa’s place accompanied by another girl who ended up jumping into a cab to go home after refusing an alleged invitation by the host for a ménage à trois.
According to Mandi, after their friend left, Ururyar became belligerent and called her “needy,” “an embarrassment,” “a slut” and a “drunk.” But she did not leave and decided to go to his place anyway. She said that taking a taxi was not an option because of a recent bad experience with a cabbie and her lack of funds. I would think that most people nowadays have a credit card and a cell phone to call a friend. Two days later, she was in a cab traumatized and alone to go get a rape kit done at the hospital; which revealed no signs of violence.
When they got to Ururyar’s room, she said that he was still insulting her and stuffed his penis in her mouth and raped her. She did not scream, and did not tell him to stop. She did not try to leave or to push him away. My question is how was he supposed to know she did not consent if she asked him for sex earlier, followed him home and did not resist verbally or physically?
Apparently, her self-esteem had suffered to the point of rendering her unable to react because of fear and confusion.
She told the court “I kind of checked out of my physical being.”
She also testified that Ururyar was not really yelling at her as she had stated in earlier versions. Instead, he was speaking to her harshly. Considering that his roommate testified that he did not hear any voices; raised or otherwise, it made it doubtful that he could have screamed at her so she consequently edited her story.
After leaving Ururyar’s place, she texted a friend and lied to her about having been black-out drunk and knowing that her date had fucked her.
She admitted in court that she was not black-out drunk but very tipsy. She could not drink too much because she was on meds and had only spent $30-40 for drinks. Plus, the 20-30-minute walk to his room would have sobered her up to a certain extent.
Saying to her friend that she knew her date had sex with her while barely conscious is very different than subsequently saying that he put his penis in her mouth and raped her when she was tipsy. She also told her friend, “If you don’t consent to sex, but you don’t not consent.” This statement alone should have turned things around in court.
By the way, if you are sexually assaulted, you do not need to survey your friends or anyone else to make sure it happened. You know; unless you were drugged or unconscious.
If she was attacked by a stranger, the fright rendering her unable to resist or talk would make sense, but she was willingly going on a date and could not really be afraid of this guy living with roommates and being smaller in size. Had she resisted or said no, and he had forced her to continue, I would be in her corner, but this is not how the messages entered as evidence describe the situation.
Ururyar said that he asked Mandi if he could penetrate her without a condom, and she said yes. The idea of a guy about to rape you leaving his DNA behind is a red flag, and she confirmed in court that she was not using protection but checking her cycle. As a side note, why on earth are people with multiple partners having unprotected sex in 2015?
In court, Gray was described as a tough cookie, bold, brash, strong, not intimidated, unbroken. Watching her interviews, you do not see a fragile and scared female who will lose her power in 10 minutes if a guy calls her names.
You see an empowered student who filed an Ontario Human Rights complaint against the university even if the incident did not happen there, and they offered her an escort on campus. Click here to read the complaint and the university’s response.
Most employers taken to task by an employee in similar circumstances would not be as lenient because romantic or sexual relationships between employees, even if consensual, may ultimately result in conflict or difficulties in the workplace and are often against their employment policy.
Students are basically paying for an education and the University should not be held responsible for their behavior on or off campus.
Universities offer better security than most employers and they should be completely left out of the process when a crime occurs. It should be handled by the police. You cannot ask an institution to make decisions that could compromise their financing and reputation and not think that it could end up badly.
We have seen it countless times in the States where they practically removed all rights from male students because of the hysteria surrounding the rape culture mentality that exists in the mind of certain groups unable to face reality. In a first world country, knowing the safeguards in place, it is almost comical to resort to that language.
Ururyar’s version was of consensual sex after he broke up with Gray. He sent her a text message 5 days later apologizing for his behavior even though he felt wronged. The message was not an admission of guilt as they tried to portray it in court. It sounded like a simple apology for a night that digressed into something unpleasant. Probably not his proudest moment.
She had texted him “last night was fucked up” to which he had answered “OK”.
The only two people who know what happened that night are Gray and Ururyar, but Zuker chose side and decided to believe Gray even with evidence of consent provided at trial. Considering both scenarios and the humiliation suffered by the complainant, I personally think there was plenty of reasonable doubt.
He chastised the guy and declared the rape official as per his judgement. He knew that Mandi was telling the truth and mocked Mustafa’s testimony, even after reading the messages and hearing Mandi admit that he had asked her to stop touching him in the course of the evening.
Twice, he had asked her to stop rubbing his leg. But Zuker mocked him even if Gray admitted being told to stop. She expressed no recollection of the touching but remembered the admonishment. If the roles were reversed, Mustafa would have been accused of sexual assault for touching her against her will.
It is quite clear that in his 179-page decision, Zuker went off the rails. He made social comments and expressed opinions on the judiciary. He basically overreached his mandate. It was disjointed and illogical. He quoted authors and elements that were never brought up in court. He chastised the accused and decided to make an example of this case for womankind.
As journalist Christie Blatchford noted, ”Sentencing, he said at one point, is about deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution and denunciation. He didn’t include, “berating the convicted man,” but he sure had that covered.”
With comments and clichés like “No other crime is looked upon with the (same) degree of blameworthiness, suspicions and guilt, it doesn’t matter if a victim was drinking, had previously had sex with the accused, did not fight back, how they were dressed or whether they were out alone at night. “No one asks to be raped.” and “For much of our history the ‘good’ rape victim, the ‘credible’ rape victim has been a dead one. When someone takes control of you and pushes their penis in your mouth what can you do?” It is obvious that Zuker’s mind was predisposed and that he excluded context and flagrant lies to arrive at his own conclusions.
And by the way, there is a lot you can do or say when assaulted.
Revoking Ururyar’s bail
After finding Ururyar guilty of sexually assaulting Mandi Gray, Z revoked his bail in a matter of days.
His sentencing is set for September 14, 2016 but the judge insisted on throwing him in jail because of the message if would send the public, and other rape victims, in spite of the sureties offered by his mother and partner and the fact that he lived in Vancouver with them.
“My issue is the seriousness of this offence,” Zuker said.
“What is the significance of rape if a person doesn’t go to jail?”
As if it was a known fact that Ururyar would be sentenced to jail.
Judge Quigley reinstates bail
Ururyar’s defense attorney filed an appeal right away and asked a Superior court to overturn the decision to revoke the bail. Justice Quigley criticized Z for revoking the student’s bail. Click here to read the article.
The Superior Court Justice comments were very revealing. “That was a jaw-dropper,” said Quigley, referring to the number of academic references cited in Zuker’s judgment that had not been introduced as evidence during the court case. “That raises questions of having a predisposed mind.”
As some radical feminists applauded Justice Zuker for his defense of women and for quoting their heroes Susan Brownmiller and Catherine Mackinnon in a supposedly impartial decision, the ones preoccupied with gender equality felt let down. Justice is not about getting a win for your team, no matter how unfair the process was.
And for the media to call this decision glorious and a free pass for future sexual assault complainants is right at the border of Rigoletto and Commedia dell’Arte.
We all want to see justice done. Rape victims have a hard time already without needing advocates making documentaries of their real or imagined ordeal with the leitmotiv that the system is against them even if they win.
Instead of expressing relief and gratitude, Gray declared that she had not won the rape lottery. She is right because going to trial is not a game. She sounded disappointed by a victory that could not support her ‘we never win’ philosophy.
She was recruiting women on social media who wanted to share the commemorating tattoos of their rape. Either, she confuses the meaning of words or something is really skewed about this club.
Check www.slutornut.ca and you will see the media exposure this case brought in for the ‘victim.’
In the trailer of her documentary called Slut or Nut, Gray tries to make us believe that her attacker now has or care about her underwear, and that it is the ultimate humiliation. She mentions how embarrassing the questions asked of her were. What about the questions the accused had to answer? It is traumatic for both sides. And it has nothing to do with blaming the victim. It is about finding the truth and treating both parties with the due process they are entitled to.
Why not make an informative video to encourage women to come forward if they were assaulted and to keep their privacy and dignity in the process? The key is to inform and give support, not to be at war with the system and men in general or to spread ridiculous and flawed statistics about the failure of a system that aims at protecting everyone equally.
And please, stop encouraging women to see all men as villains, and calling it modern feminism.
Why is it that the media chooses these lightweight cases to illustrate the plight of rape victims? There are victims out there needing our support and this nonsense could only pull the rug from underneath them if these silly pursuits persist.
Zuker probably wanted to leave his mark of Zorro before retiring (which he did). His last hurrah for women and a decision that would be talked about for years to come. Indeed, it will be talked about for a long time, but unfortunately not for the heroic reasons he had envisioned. Sorry Zuker, but as a woman, I do not want or need a free pass or to win by default because of sins of the past; I prefer equality and due process.
Click here to read Z’s decision at the bottom of Christie Blatchford’s article.
UPDATE: I received a comment from Mandi Gray: Her compelling argument is that if I misspelled Ururyar’s name a few times (mea culpa and bloody WordPress), it invalidates the entire content of this blog. As Ururyar would say, ”OK”
I will gladly post her comments if they pertain to the validity of what I quoted about the trial and Zuker’s career. The rest is solely my opinion and she can feel free to disagree.
My blog covers the legal aspect, but you can click here to read Irene Ogrizek’s blog – a very interesting view on personal responsibility and the tyranny of the weak.
UPDATE: Click here to read about Ururyar being sentenced to 18 months (maximum) by Z and having to pay $8,000 restitution. Let’s now wait for the appeal and the legal community’s reaction to this other aberrant decision.
UPDATE: As to be expected, Ururyar was granted bail one day after he was sentenced. I predict that he will easily win his appeal.