Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unguarded encounter with rapist not heeded

Safety complaint can't find audience

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A Winnipeg woman travelled to Saskatoon to speak out against the man who raped her only to discover the parole hearing had been cancelled.

Tracey Walsh arrived in Saskatoon on July 4 and was informed Edwin Dennis Proctor, the man who raped her and a friend in 1979, had withdrawn his request for a parole hearing.

Proctor will stay incarcerated in Saskatoon's Regional Psychiatric Centre for at least two more years, at which point he will again be eligible for parole.

It was the third time since 2006 Walsh travelled to Saskatoon to read a victim impact statement.

Walsh said although she is relieved Proctor will remain incarcerated, she feels conflicted because she was ready to speak out about an incident that occurred at Proctor's 2008 hearing.

According to Walsh, she and her fiancé, Steven Tymchuk, were walking through the psychiatric centre before the 2008 hearing at around 8:15 a.m. She said she saw Proctor and another inmate walking down the hall towards them unguarded.

"The sight of it was so shocking. I almost pulled Steven towards me into a brick wall to get away from them. He was just there, completely free from guards, and it felt like he could have done anything to me at that point. I felt so powerless," said Walsh. "To me it speaks volumes. To me it says, 'I can still get you.'

"If you cannot protect a survivor or a victim in an institution, then how are you going to protect them out in society? How are you going to protect people on the outside when you can't on the inside?" said Walsh.

Proctor was arrested in 1979 after abducting and raping Walsh and a friend. They were 15 years old at the time. Proctor had also raped and killed Catherine Cluney, 21, a few weeks prior.

After years of hearings, Proctor was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder, attempted murder, rape and buggery.

While the names of victims of sexual assault are usually not published, Walsh got the court to remove the ban on her name in 2006. Walsh said she felt it was important for her to speak out "so that he would never get free again, so that I would be the last victim."

But now, Walsh said she feels more afraid than ever. She said although she has filed complaints with the Correctional Service of Canada, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan, she has not had her complaints addressed.

"The safety of Steven and I was overlooked with no explanation or consequences for him. I can't even explain the toll physically and mentally this has taken on us," said Walsh.

Although Walsh continues to experience post-traumatic stress from her attack, she maintains she will continue to attend Proctor's parole hearings.

"How I get the strength to keep attending these hearings is I feel like I'm a voice for the people who can't speak. I take all of them with me. When I'm speaking my voice and he's looking at me in the face and I'm keeping him there, that's my kind of sense of I have power," said Walsh. "I was not his first victim but I will be his last."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2012 A7


Updated on Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 10:51 AM CDT: Corrects name of Tracey Walsh

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