Judge rules that abusive man can’t have a girlfriend

I fucking love this judge.

A judge has ruled that a 24-year-old Canadian man is not allowed to have a girlfriend for the next three years. The ruling came after Steven Cranley pleaded guilty on Tuesday to several charges stemming from an assault on a former girlfriend.
He tried to prevent her from phoning the police by cutting her phone cord and punched and kicked her.

Doctors say Cranley has difficulty coping with rejection and runs a high risk to re-offend if he becomes involved in another intimate relationship.
Justice Rhys Morgan ruled that Cranley “cannot form a romantic relationship of an intimate nature with a female person…That is the only way I can see the protection of the public is in place until you get the counseling you need.”
Okay, I’m generally not for the courts prohibiting folks from relationships…but excuse me if in this case I just don’t give a fuck. And as reader Shelby, who sent in the link, put it: “At last, a judge that places the blame where it belongs!”

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42 Comments

  1. ShifterCat
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Went to the article and gave it a five-star recommendation.

  2. the15th
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “Protection of the public”…I love that. We need to protect the public from this guy. Domestic violence is usually treated as a complicated “private” issue stemming from “turbulent,” “dramatic” relationships, and this judge just cuts through all the bullshit with one matter-of-fact phrase.

  3. Posted June 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    “cannot form a romantic relationship of an intimate nature with a female person…”
    does this mean he could start dating men in the meantime?

  4. Ephemeral
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    This was a very interesting story thank you. It is nice to see a judge go after the heart of an issue.
    However, under Canadian law there is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and I am curious if this ruling cold be challenged under the Charter? Is there a “Canadian Law Fairy” who reads Feministing who might have a more informed opinion?

  5. Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. I feel like this has to be some sort of violation of civil liberties . . . personally, I’d prefer for them to stick him in jail for those three years. At the same times, it’s kind of hard not to love it. I’m torn.
    But how on earth do you enforce such a thing?

  6. UltraMagnus
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    But how on earth do you enforce such a thing?
    It might be like how they have registered sex offenders. I don’t know if they’d put anything in front of his house, but I suspect if he gets another girlfriend, ends up assaulting her and going back to court his ass is in a LOT of trouble, so the onus might be on him to not date and to inform any potential dates that he’s a grade a nutcase.

  7. Nina
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    The whole thing seems kind of weird to me. Like Cara, I’m not sure why he can’t just stay in jail for assault. I don’t exactly know why this rubs me the wrong way, but it definitely seems like a civil liberties violation. And of course you don’t have a lot of civil liberties in jail, but it seems to me that either it’s safe for him to be out in society or it’s not.

  8. Hysterical Feminazi
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    i agree with Shelby – hallelujah for the judge not placing the blame on the victim! it’s a turning point!

  9. the15th
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    This is sort of like a malicious hacker not being allowed to use computers after his release, or a white-collar criminal barred from being on the board of a public company. These kinds of punishments aren’t unheard of.

  10. yesbut
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m Canadian, but not a Law Fairy, but am relatively well-versed in Charter issues.
    We do have a guaranteed freedom of association, which might be the only Charter barrier. I’m trying to think of comparable situations. Could this be likened to the very-common stipulations that child sex offenders must not go unaccompanied to parks, malls, schools, etc? I suppose basically that’s a ruling not to associate with children besides your own (where applicable, even they are often removed).
    The Charter also has a Reasonable Limits clause – even if something is found to violate a protected right, it can be found to be a reasonable limit on that right, and therefore legitimate.
    Again, I know little about the law. Someone else give a better answer, please.

  11. Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    This is very interesting. Honestly, I kind of like it.
    From a civil liberty standpoint, this seems less intrusive than prison, and this punishment is directly related to his crime. His crime is that he attacked his partner? He can’t have a partner anymore.
    I imagine he’ll probably appeal, though. Very interesting.

  12. oenophile
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    We currently have a sex offender list. Maybe we should add an abuser list for people whose crimes aren’t sexual (i.e. raping small children) but who stalk, assault, or terrorise their girlfriends.
    Kudos to the judge for placing the blame where it belongs. I just wish that he had tailored the ruling more closely to the underlying psychiatric issue and prohibited him from dating until he seeks counseling and understands that women aren’t his property. If that never happens, tough luck. (Such a ruling may also be more likely to stand up to a Charter of Rights challenge.)

  13. Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    “But how on earth do you enforce such a thing?”
    The article was pretty brief, but I wonder if he’s still on probation, though not actually in jail? It’s common here (in the US) that a judge at sentencing will order offenders not to drink alcohol and that kind of thing during the period of their probation, and the person has to check in with a probation officer periodically who checks for evidence of violations of those conditions. Of course, you can’t check through a urine test whether a person’s been on a date.

  14. legallyblondeez
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    If restraining orders, where there is an individual who at least presumably is willing to report violations named in the order, are difficult to enforce, I don’t see how this is going to fly in practice. It’s like a reverse restarining order–but how do you notify every woman in Canada to stay away from him? Short of extreme supervision, there’s just no way to keep him away from other people. Heck, people in jail form relationships and even get married with stunning regularity. I’d be curious to see what kind of enforcement the judge proposed, if any.
    It’s a neat idea, though.

  15. Marissa
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I kinda disagree with the general concensus here. It kind of seems like this ruling is a cop-out and a slap on the wrist because t doesn’t seem very enforcable. Why can’t they send him to jail for this? It just seems like its asking for more trouble and reinforcing the idea that abusers can get away with just about anything, even as sanctioned by the law. What do you guys think?

  16. Posted June 14, 2007 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    While I appreciate the sentiment at work here, this seems incredibly wrong. If someone committed a bunch of murders, but it turned out via expert psychological evaluation that this person would only kill people who happened to sit next to him in a movie theatre, would the judge say, “okay, you can go home, but just make sure you stay out of movie theatres in the future — we’re on the honor system here?” As noted in the comments, judges do this kind of thing to keep computer hackers and white-collar criminals out of trouble, but nobody’s going to die or get physically assaulted if these people violate the sentence. If the guy is too violent to safely interact with people, he belongs in jail, regardless of what the trigger is that might ‘set him off.’

  17. Itazura
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Cara and UltraMagnus
    Admittedly I know little about law, and almost nothing about Canadian law, but it sounds like the guy was assigned 3 years of counseling by the judge. Excellent sentence if you ask me. The guy probably is not a horrible enough man yet to give up on, and the judge is basically giving him a change to get the helps that he needs, but if he fails at counseling, then he is in big trouble.
    I like sentences like this one, because it attempts to correct the problem before something serious happens (like murder, suicide, or sexual assualt). Lets hope counseling works for this guy.

  18. Posted June 14, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Er, I’m hoping that it was just poor wording Itazura, but I would consider domestic violence to be pretty damn serious.
    Also, it just occurred to me how infrequently domestic violence cases are actually prosecuted, and then what a slim fraction of those actually result in a conviction. Here we have one, and instead of going to jail, the guy just can’t have a girlfriend?
    So yeah, I’m sticking with my original statement that I would rather see the guy in jail. That is both from a pro-civil liberties and pro-justice standpoint.

  19. Itazura
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    “Er, I’m hoping that it was just poor wording Itazura, but I would consider domestic violence to be pretty damn serious.”
    No, I don’t see domestic violence as disastrous as murder, suicide, or sexual assault, but yeah, your right domestic violence is a pretty damn serious crime. But I think 3 years of counseling is a better sentence than jail time for what this guy did (if I am reading all the facts involved in the case right). Whether or not the guy is redeemable was a matter for the judge to decide, and I will go with the judge’s decision on this one. But if counseling fails, then I am going to hate myself for saying that this guy was not a horrible enough man yet to give up on (as I am sure that the judge will to).

  20. Heather
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    So he pleaded guilty, everyone’s acknowledged he’s a danger to society, no one’s blaming her, and yet he’s STILL FREE to assault anyone he wants, relationship or not, including that same ex girlfriend?
    There’s no reason to love this judge. It’s the same old bullshit.

  21. SassyGirl
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I agree with LP and Heather. The judge will only know if he has a girlfriend when he assaults her and then only if it is reported. Even house arrest with a tether would have been a better sentence, or a short jail term, then three years of counseling with no girlfriend.

  22. Mina
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    “‘Protection of the public’…I love that. We need to protect the public from this guy. Domestic violence is usually treated as a complicated ‘private’ issue stemming from ‘turbulent,’ ‘dramatic’ relationships, and this judge just cuts through all the bullshit with one matter-of-fact phrase.”
    Good points.
    “The whole thing seems kind of weird to me. Like Cara, I’m not sure why he can’t just stay in jail for assault. I don’t exactly know why this rubs me the wrong way, but it definitely seems like a civil liberties violation.”
    …and it leaves me wondering how they define “a romantic relationship of an intimate nature.” I mean, it’s not as if those begin with contracts.
    Doesn’t this still leave him totally free to have a girlfriend as long as they say “it’s not romantic, we’re just fuck buddies” or “it’s not intimate, we’re just dating” or whatever?
    “so the onus might be on him to not date”
    Either that or to say “it’s not a date, we’re just going to the mall” or “it’s not a date, it’s it’s a booty call” when he does.
    “So he pleaded guilty, everyone’s acknowledged he’s a danger to society, no one’s blaming her, and yet he’s STILL FREE to assault anyone he wants, relationship or not, including that same ex girlfriend?
    “There’s no reason to love this judge. It’s the same old bullshit.”
    More good points.

  23. Itazura
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    “…and it leaves me wondering how they define “a romantic relationship of an intimate nature.” I mean, it’s not as if those begin with contracts.”
    Actually marriage kind of is a intimate relationship that begins with a contract. I wonder if this guy is barred from marriage until he completes his 3 year counseling sentence. Also (if I was the judge) I would bar him from entering into home rental leases or home-ownership deals with women before he has completed his 3 year counseling sentence.

  24. keshmeshi
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Also, it just occurred to me how infrequently domestic violence cases are actually prosecuted, and then what a slim fraction of those actually result in a conviction. Here we have one, and instead of going to jail, the guy just can’t have a girlfriend?

    The article clearly states that the guy spent almost five months in prison before and during the trial. The judge let him off with time served, counseling, and an order not to have a relationship for three years.
    A five month sentence is completely decent for a guy who “only” punched and kicked his girlfriend, especially in Canada which seems to have less excessively punitive laws than the United States.

  25. nathan
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m no where near as graceful as I imagine a fairy should be, but I suppose there can be exceptions for Canadian Law Fairies.
    I’ve never seen a term of a probation order like this, so it’s difficult to predict if it would be upheld on appeal, especially since I haven’t been able to find the judgment to read.
    Probation order have been struck down for violating the Charter before, especially it seems orders requiring medical treatment. There is an argument to be made that this order violates s. 2(d) (freedom of association) and s. 7 (security of the person). Also, there are possibly non-Charter grounds to appeal, such as that the term is unreasonable, or that it is putative (probation is for rehabilitation, not punishment). I wouldn’t want to predict how likely it is that an appeal would succeed.
    As for the mechanism of enforcement, there probably won’t be any formal monitoring of the order, depending on the procedures of the police and probation officers in that jurisdiction, which I am not sure of. If he violates the probation order, he can be charged for that, and possibly even re-sentenced for the original crimes.
    As for whether jail would be better, I tend to agree with Itazura’s comment. I’d only add that probation orders are extremely common in Canada for violent crimes like assault; they’re not just used for white collar crime.
    If locking incarcerated per 100,000)people up is the way to rehabilitate them, one would expect the US (715 people to have a much better crime rate than Canada (116 per 100,000). I think this man’s next girl friend will be far better off if he receives three years of counseling rather than three years of jail. This order seems like a good way to protect society in the short term from a dangerous person, while also trying to protect it in the long term by rehabilitating him.
    As for the argument that “this still leave[s] him totally free to have a girlfriend as long as they say ‘it’s not romantic, we’re just fuck buddies’ or ‘it’s not intimate, we’re just dating’”, I think you just have to rely on the fact judges and prosecutors aren’t complete morons, and wouldn’t accept these excuses.

  26. Nazrafel
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I think that the judge is doing everyone a favor, if only because the 3 year moratorium on dating is probably MUCH longer than anything he’d serve IF he went to prison. Due to overcrowding and the tendency for most to view domestic violence as a “personal/private” problem, unless you kill someone- you probably won’t do that much time. Today’s LA Times: “If Hilton does serve the 23 days, she will have done about the same amount of time as … more than 2,600 (people) charged with domestic violence.” Granted, you can’t follow the guy around. I doubt there is any kind of “domestic battery” tracker, though that seems to be a fabulous idea. (Quick check on the new boyfriend?) Like UltraM said, if he gets caught again in the next three years, the judge has a great excuse for throwing the book at him. I like the fact that the judge said “protection of the PUBLIC”- as other commentators have noticed, this brings battery and abuse issues out of the home and into public space. Abusive men are dangerous to SOCIETY as a whole and society needs to treat them that way. That being said, I also agree with oenophile, that unless the judge saw fit to mandate consuling and treatment, all is for naught. This guy needs to have his attitude toward women and anger management skills checked. He needs professional pyschological help in order to avoid becoming a class A abuser. I will err on the optomistic side (out of sheer necessity) and hope that, despite statistics to the contrary, that maybe this guy can be consuled/therapied out of the mentality of an abuser. I don’t know the details of the case. I REALLY REALLY hope this is a case where he is NOT the type of person to stalk. If THAT is the case, the judge F*d up big time.

  27. skilled-junkie
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I wondered if the judge was a man or a woman. It is a man. I think it is a strange arrangement that ultimately doesn’t do anything. To me, it says that it is OK to punch and kick anyone, especially a girlfriend!
    Recently, a NOW friend said that it is impossible to cure most sex-offenders from repeating such crimes. I was surprised. I am a big believer in counseling and body therapies. The idea of giving up on someone’s potential to heal is troubling. Any thoughts?

  28. skilled-junkie
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the Virginia Tech shooting. The guy stalked a couple of women students (or ex-girlfriends) and was ordered counseling by the judge in 2005. No one knows yet if he got counseled but even if he did, it wasn’t enough to protect the public.

  29. Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s brilliant, but probably won’t hold up on appeal. (too broad, IMO.) Still, the publicity behind this case will be good to raise awareness even if the appeal flips it.

  30. Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Whoops. Thanks, Keshmeshi, you’re completely right. Apologies.

  31. Itazura
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like the guy plea bargained for his sentence, so I doubt he will submit an appeal.
    However, civil liberties groups may have issues with the sentencing.
    I think it is a good sentence, and I think it would be a good idea to try to form a sort of 3 year counseling/probation system in America for domestic violence crinimals that are judged redeemable.

  32. natmusk
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I have worked with sex offenders in my past. The biggest issue is the confusion that all sex offenders are pedophiles. A pedophile is someone that is only attracted to children and is very very rare and the most dangerous and most likely to reoffend. Most are men that do find they have an attraction to children which, through a combination of things such as, stress, past abuse, substance use, years of faulty thinking.
    I believe that there are individuals who have offended in their past and who will not in the future. However it takes much effort and dedication on their part and unfortunately most are not willing or able to do it.
    I think that if this order is contingent on his therapy it could be a good thing. The program I worked with required that an individual in our group could not enter into a relationship unless the group and the therapists believed it to be a safe and healthy relationship. If we felt that the relationship was wrong and they went on with it their probation could be revoked. Also, if they didn’t proceed with therapy they were sent back to jail. One problem in the criminal justice system is that many probation officers just to do not have the training or time to devote to an individual like a therapist does. By giving therapists the power to be able to say that they are worried about someone i think helps a lot in preventing reoffending. It is harder to trick the therapists and we know of more subtle signs than the probation officer would

  33. Marissa
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    The problem with judging someone redeemable is that in domestic violence, most of the time they are not. Usually the abuser blaims his victim for everything he does, and never takes any responsibility himself. Unless an abuser is willing to recognize that THEY are to blaim for their own actions, not a girlfreind, not someone or something else, then they have a chance of changing. But that in itself is a contradiction in terms because one of the primary elements of being an abuser is to blaim the victim for the abuser’s behavior and never ever take any self-responsibility.

  34. neonvillage
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    wow, this is ridiculous and i don’t agree with it. however, i don’t have an solution either.

  35. natmusk
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Marissa,
    I do agree with you that many are not redeemable however it really is hard to know which ones are.
    My best example is one person who was in my group. He had an extensive history of sexual abuse as well as admimtted rape fantasies and years of alcoholism behind his belt. However he was a dedicated member to the group and continued to attend therapy past his probation end date (when most guys quit). He worked hard to earn the money to keep going and went to victim advocate groups and other evevnts to attempt to make amends for his past issues.
    I know he is rare but at the same time, judging from his history he would look to be one of the last people you would have excepted to work hard at the program.
    the hardest thing for judges to do is make a call based on whether a person is redeemable or not…it’s pretty much about 50/50…there is nt tell tall sign of who will reoffend and who won’t..

  36. Itazura
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Natmusk
    I like your idea of making probation officers therapist. I know little to nothing about probation officers, counselors, therapist, or therapy, having never had a need for any of them (in fact I am kind of biased against therapist, because one convinced my mother that she had been raped as a 1 year old, and then slept with while he was suppose to be administering her treatment), but I realize that the current probation system in America is not working, particularly for domestic violence offenders and convicted child molesters. I think counseling should be mandatory for anyone convicted of a crime, and sexual or domestically abusive men (and women) certainly need years of counseling before they can be considered safe for society. But how do you institute a long term mandatory counseling program, and how do you convince tax payers to pay the high cost that therapists and counseling programs are going to require?

  37. natmusk
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Itazura,
    You point on the major problem in getting therapy for those who probably most need it. Tax payers do not want to. They’d rather the individuals were rotting in jail then pay for them to get help which many feel they do not deserve.
    My program was through another mental health agency that had a habit of footing the bill between the jail/gov’t and the mental health agency. This had the advantage that it was cheaper for the jail as well as good publicity for the mental health agency and gave it more leverage when looking for more money and funding from teh state.
    The therapy was often on a sliding scale which was in relation to the individual’s income and they often did let the individuals slide on payments or would work hard with other agencies to get them jobs to help them find money.
    and those of us who work with the forensic population are taking positions that pay much less than our peers who open their own business and can charge $100 dollars an hour.. however someone has to do it and I find great value in it.
    I loved working with my females and teaching them about feminism and hearing their throughts and beliefs on certain issues such as woman’s rights and other such things. I firmly believe that they have the possibility to change the world since they’ve experienced the injustices of that world more than many of us

  38. Fenriswolf
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    OK, those of you who disagree: sure, he did get off lightly. BUT it makes a hell of a lot more sense than putting him in jail.
    I mean DAMN, can you get any more misogynistic and violent than the social structure of a male-only prison?? Putting him in prison for three years is only going to teach him that not only is what did OK, but completely normal.
    That’s just fucking stupid

  39. tinfoil hattie
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I mean DAMN, can you get any more misogynistic and violent than the social structure of a male-only prison??

    Oh, the bitter irony (to quote Twisty).
    What a great idea! Tell him he can’t have a girlfriend for 3 years. He WILL obey, and certainly he will not hit or abuse any other women during that time period! And wow, when his “sentence” is over…he’ll go from an abusive, misogynist asshole to a loving feminist! Brilliant.

  40. bear
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    “But how on earth do you enforce such a thing?”
    Are you kidding? The story makes the news. Can’t you just see the teaser during the commercial break? Imagine the frustration (for him – not too concerned) if legal experts debated the issue on cable TV with constant video of him being sentenced. It might be the one time Nancy Grace could be compelling. I You could also tattoo it on his forehead. All of which will probably force him into more counseling.

  41. gitan312
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I think this ruling is intriguing, but unfortunately I don’t see it actually changing the guy. Three years from now (assuming he actually complies), he’ll just be back at it.
    This story got picked up by a local radio station here in Atlanta, and frustratingly, the DJs completely ignored the domestic violence and instead bemoaned the fact that a man was convicted for his inability to deal with romantic rejection, ie. “being male” (in their words). Because “being male” absolutely involves assaulting your girlfriend. Sigh.
    Of course, this is the same radio station that started the “Beer Belly Brigade” to combat the evil Tyra Banks and her army of bare-tummied women. Hmm.

  42. Posted June 15, 2007 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Another Canadian piping in:
    1) I’m 99% sure it will get struck down as unconstitutional;
    2) Canadians have a very different attitude towards prison. Considering that he spent 5 months in jail before going to trial (which counts as 10 months time served because he was incarcerated before he was convicted), it was very unlikely that he would be sentenced to more jail time. The whole world is not the US. In fact, the US is out of step with the rest of the industrialized world in its approach to crime. Y’all incarcerate a higher proportion of your population than any other country in the world – and yet your violent crime rates remain so high. Maybe the rest of us have the right idea?
    3) I remain unconvinced the longer prison sentences for abusers is a good solution to the problem of domestic violence. It doesn’t seem to have much of a deterrent effect, and it most certainly doesn’t have a rehabilitative effect. With the exception of those serving life sentences with no possibility of parole, these guys all get out – after spending some time in an ultra-violent environment.
    4) The Color of Violence (an anthology put together by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence) has some very good essays addressing why turning to the criminal justice system as a means of dealing with violence against women has been very problematic, and has generally been very bad for women of colour. (Not directly relevant, but worth mentioning since some commenters have referred to the sentence in this case a “slap on the wrist” and advocating for more jail time).

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