R V DESJOURDY
A NARRATIVE OF WHITE INNOCENCE AND RACIALIZED DANGER
Ottawa police sergeant Steven Desjourdy was the first officer in Canada to be prosecuted for sexual assault based upon an illegal strip search of a woman, arguably a “sexual assault by the state.”1 Sexual assault prosecutions present innumerable hurdles for all complainants, but when the accused is a police officer engaged in his duties, those hurdles are almost insurmountable. The prospect of racism loomed large in this case, given that Desjourdy was white and SB was a Black Canadian woman portrayed as volatile and dangerous. Using the transcripts of Desjourdy’s trial and drawing upon sexual assault and critical race literatures, this article explores the systemic biases that favour police officers on trial and facilitate the construction of white innocence and racialized danger.
Keywords:strip search, Desjourdy, sexual assault, criminal justice system, anti-Black racism, police brutality, abuse of power, police accountability, critical race theory, structural misogyny, racial profiling, racialized violence
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