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In 1970, 19 year old Gerry Barton was accused of raping his 14 year old neighbour in rural Nova Scotia. It is not clear what happened next, because most of the court documents are strangely missing, but the one document that survives suggests that Barton confessed and pled guilty to statutory rape. Barton maintains that the RCMP never spoke to him and that he never had a trial.

He served one year probation for the conviction, but his criminal record haunted him throughout his adult life. Then in 2008, RCMP Constable Brent Kelly received a call to break up a fight between two brothers. In the presence of the RCMP officer, one brother accused the other of molesting their siblings and fathering a child on their sister.

Constable Kelly began to look into the case. He tracked down the sister who admitted that she had lied about Barton under pressure from her family. DNA tests revealed that Barton was not the father of her child, and pointed to her brother as the real father.


In 2011, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal exonerated Barton and concluded that he was a victim of a miscarriage of Justice. Despite this, the Nova Scotia government has denied him compensation, saying there is no evidence that the RCMP's original investigation was negligent. Given that most of the pertinent documents are missing in the case, there is no evidence that the investigation wasn't negligent, either.

All in all, it's a horrible story. The victim, who has since passed away, was treated horribly all round, from her family who refused to believe them when she told them her brother had fathered her child, to the RCMP officer who did the initial investigation, and spoke to members of her community to determine if she was "chaste" before proceeding with his investigation.

The case also has a disturbing racial element, as Gerry Barton is an Afro-Nova Scotian (as was the rape victim). I heard Mr. Barton's lawyer on the radio this morning, and he pointed out that in the wake of the Donald Marshall wrongful conviction case, the Nova Scotia government had pledged to compensate all victims of wrongful conviction. Other victims of wrongfully conviction who have come to light since the Marshall case have been compensated, but they were white.


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