I have taken my time to write this update. There has been a lot to process personally and collectively.
On February 10th, 2021, the British Columbia Court of Appeal announced its decision regarding Crown’s appeal to lift the stay of proceedings on our #PooniSisters court case. A panel of five judges dismissed the appeal. Crown has recently confirmed it will not take further steps to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In their decision, all five BC Court of Appeal justices agreed: “This is a troubling case. The charges were serious, involving sexual abuse of vulnerable complainants. Mr. Virk was found to be guilty of most of the offences charged, but, due to the breach of his s. 11(b) right to trial within a reasonable time, the proceedings were stayed—effectively acquitting him. A stay of proceedings in these circumstances marks a failure of the justice system. This case is also troubling because a significant portion of the delay was due to the complacency and lack of urgency demonstrated by Mr. Virk’s first counsel. But that failure on the part of the defence was compounded by the failure of the Crown and the Court to take control of the prosecution and move it along effectively…” (Court refers to the trial judge).
The disheartening decision opened up many old wounds and brought up waves of emotions. My sisters and I have had a lot to process, have asked ourselves many questions about breaking our silence and our 14 year journey through the criminal justice system. Over the past month we have nurtured each other, cried, laughed and have shared moments of joy as we let go of the old and welcome the exciting journey ahead.
I have so much to share with you all about the lessons learned over the decades, healing and the adventurous projects bursting to come to form. First in order is publishing my book I wrote 3 years ago called The Silent Stoning. Before I take even one step towards my book I must decide to close the Change.org/Poonisisters petition. Certainly, the thought of having to do that brings up another wave of emotions.
It’s an honor to be sharing this journey with you. Your love and kind messages touch my heart and soul.
It’s exciting to hear Crown counsel has appealed our Pooni Sisters court case.
Wow! What a journey it has been. Sometimes I can’t believe my sisters and I have been on this criminal justice system journey for 13+ years. The courage, perseverance and the amount of sheer guts it takes is immeasurable. Here’s a picture of us taken a few minutes after the April, 6, 2018 verdict where the accused was found guilty for 4 of 6 counts of sexual assault. Unbelievably so, the two counts pertaining to my sister Kira Pooni were found not guilty. We were relieved our Pooni sisters court case had finally reached a verdict.
It all feels like a dream as I look back down on memory lane and all that has transpired through the criminal justice system process. To put it into perspective here’s a timeline: 2007 – RCMP took our statements 2011 – Accused was charged 2013 – Preliminary hearing Provincial Court of British Columbia 2015 – 2018 Supreme Court of British Columbia trial proceedings 2018 – Verdict – guilty 4 of 6 counts – accused files stay of proceedings application claiming his right to a timely trial was breached 2019 – Stay of proceedings granted – case is stayed all charges are dropped 2020 – Crown appeals stay of proceedings – appeal to be heard in Appeal Court of British Columbia November 5, 2020
The hearing is open to the public and I am curious to see how it goes. I know I will be going through an array of emotions as Crown and defense make their arguments. If you would like more information on the appeal watch the video below.
It will be a long wait ahead before the Appeal Court of British Columbia announces it’s decision on this hearing (Spring 2021) and there are so many scenarios that can play out. It’s an honor to share the unfolding of this journey with you.
Thank you for your wonderful messages of love and support.
I am super excited to share Because We Are Girls, is having it’s world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto, May 1 – 3, 2019, and it’s Vancouver premier at the Doxa Film Festival, May 3 and May 7, 2019. This documentary film has taken tremendous effort, over 4 years in the making and shares the story of me and my sisters breaking our silence of sexual abuse and the impact the abuse has had on our lives.
We all have “our stories” they say. It’s odd they call it a story when in fact it is a lived reality. My lived reality, my story is filled with years of childhood sexual abuse.
It was 12 years ago I broke my silence and shared my story of sexual abuse with my family. At that very moment I knew it was more than just about me. It was about protecting my daughters, my sisters, other girls and telling the truth of what had happened to me and my sisters. From that moment forward began my journey of being a voice for those girls and women who have been denied a voice and have suffered sexual abuse.
It has been a long tough road and to say it was full of many bumps and bruises would be putting it mildly. I will share more of my story in the coming notes to you. A whole lifetime is way too much to squeeze into one note.
I know first hand how it feels to live in shame, not be believed and to be treated like an outcast. I write a note from Jeeti and share my story so other girls and women can relate, know they are not alone, they too can heal and I believe them. I write and share to create dialogue and awareness of sexual abuse and gender equity.
My deepest hope is to enlighten and inspire you as I share my story and be of service to you and humanity. You will hear from me soon.
I’m so excited and honored to have you journey with me through the chapters of my life.
A note from Jeeti will inspire you as you witness my ups and downs and the power of courage and perseverance. You will have a front seat into my past, present and future experiences as I travel the world sharing my story of sexual abuse, trauma, resilience and healing. By sharing in these experiences, you will gain valuable insight and motivation to live a more fulfilled life.