Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Family outraged after charges of sexual assault dropped

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THE family of an alleged victim in a sexual assault charge dropped against convicted killer Shawn Lamb expressed outrage at the justice system Thursday.

The mother said she and her 16-year-old daughter (who was 14 at the time charges were laid) found themselves called to the Crown attorney's office and informed charges were dropped.

In court, justice officials also dropped sexual charges in two other cases and downgraded two second-degree murder charges against Lamb to manslaughter.

"They led us to believe he faced two murder charges, not manslaughter. What the hell is manslaughter? He killed two women!" the mother said.

Lamb's bizarre behaviour in court Thursday sent the mother and daughter on an emotional roller-coaster. He entered a guilty plea to manslaughter, then withdrew it and entered it again, raising speculation what he really wanted was a trial and a chance to grandstand in open court.

Families of the victims in the courtroom were shaking with anger. Outside court, the city's large indigenous community took to Facebook in a fury of blistering comments, lashing out at both Lamb and the justice system.

That the Crown conceded the absence of physical evidence meant the case hung on Lamb's confession only inflamed the sense of outrage.

"He's been playing a game with the families," said the mother.

"Now he's playing a game with the Crown. What about the girls? With his history, his track record -- this is what they came up with? I can't believe this is what they came up with," the mother said.

The mother, who has a social work-related career, said what happened in court Thursday proved if you're an aboriginal woman in Canada, you're marginalized. "We need to stop looking at indigenous women and girls on our streets as throwaways," she said.

Her daughter delivered a soft-spoken comment calling for justice. "I'll wait to see what happens."

Urban indigenous justice advocate Michael Champagne said Lamb's plea bargain and court antics turned up the heat on the issue of justice for missing and murdered aboriginal women. "People are enraged. I'm sure people are looking right past Shawn Lamb right now. Shawn Lamb is a pimple on the a-- of the justice system."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 A4

History

Updated on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:16 PM CST: Removes reference to Lamb attending vigils.

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