York University PhD student Mustafa Ururyar, who was convicted two weeks ago of raping fellow student Mandi Gray, has been freed on bail, a decision that reversed one made by the convicting judge.
Following his July 21 conviction, Ururyar, who plans to appeal the verdict, had his bail revoked while he awaits sentencing on Sept. 14 but his defence team asked the courts to reconsider that decision.
Trial judge, Marvin Zuker, delivered a damning judgment in which he said, "Rape it was. No confusion. No uncertainty to this Court," and methodically dispelled common rape myths. Zuker refused to allow Ururyar to stay out on bail because, in his words, "What is the significance of rape if a person doesn't go to jail?"
However, on Wednesday, Superior Court Justice Michael Quigley overturned that decision. His reasons for judgment have not yet been released, however he did question the zealousness with which Zuker delivered his verdict, including the many academic readings on gender and sex assault Zuker cited. For example, one section of Zuker's judgment, entitled "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," discusses the works of Maya Angelou and Virginia Woolf in the context of rape.
Quigley, in reviewing the bail decision, said the number of such references was a "jaw dropper" and that Zuker has "a mind that may be a little too full." He said the judgment "raises questions of having a predisposed mind." Ururyar's team said Zuker's "apprehension of bias" is grounds for appeal.
Speaking to VICE Thursday, Gray said she's angry that Zuker didn't just grant Ururyar bail in the first place—something she'd mentally prepared for because of how common it is.
"It caused a lot of unnecessary hardship for me, it's been in appeal court for the last two days, it's been in the media again. When things get in the media, I receive so many threats every single day," she said.
However, despite both Crown and defense saying Ururyar has grounds for an appeal of his conviction, Gray said she's not worried about him being successful. She admitted that Zuker's judgment—delivered in a domestic violence court—was "unusual" but pointed out that that's the point of having specialized courts.
"If the crown and judge aren't able to use their specialized knowledge, then why are we advocating for specialized training?" she said. "We have other justices like Justice Robin Camp who utilize these rape myths and make discriminatory statements about the complainants, which is judicial bias. It's a lose-lose because there's no such thing as an impartial or objective judge, it just doesn't exist."
Camp, while presiding over a sex assault trial in Alberta, asked a female complainant "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" (He's since said he's "sorry".)
Gray is currently in the midst of pursuing litigation against York. She said the legal proceedings have exhausted her to the point where she felt completely numb about the guilty verdict.
"I couldn't feel any joy and happiness and this just reaffirms that," she said. "I'm glad I didn't feel anything with that verdict because any happiness I would have felt would have just been taken from me."
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