Annapolis Valley train-wreck rape case

Was it, to use a bad word, a clusterfuck? Or was it an inside job?

Whatever the case the end result is the same. A 35-year-old single mother did not get her day in court and a 34-year-old son of a Valley sheriff walks on a rape rap. She just turned 35. He turns 35 on November 18.

Any resolution to Jordan Ellis’s rape trial was cut short in August when Judge Alan Tufts, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s R. v. Jordan decision in 2016, ruled that the lobster fisherman’s lengthy courtroom odyssey had encountered unreasonable delay and had gone on past the Supreme Court mandated 18-month time limit for Provincial Court proceedings.

Frank Magazine was the only media in the province to report on the case. That’s odd in itself.

Odd because so much lip service is paid today to sexual violence that the reasonable man, or woman, would not be wrong to think the Annapolis County Spectator or the Kings County Registrar, or some local rag, would be all over this one like a bad smell.

Small town courtroom drama in a cozy but nosey part of the province where townsfolk delight in business not their own, where political alliances die hard, where stories are shared, where favours are owed - that should make for interesting reading. It should sell a newspaper or two, one might think.

After all, it wasn’t an alleged pat on the bum, it was an alleged rape; a serious high-end violation of another human being.

Nope. Only big, bad, mean, macho, misogynist, sexist Frank Magazine is on the scene to tell this single mother’s story. And nobody else. Pity that. Odd that.

Bridgetown RCMP charged Jordan Michael Ellis with a single count of rape on May, 30, 2017, after the single mother came forward claiming the would-be-biker type had pounced on her in the front seat of his Honda Civic after taking a wrong turn on the secluded Spurr Road in Round Hill, Annapolis County.

She was living in Elmsdale at the time, and the RCMP listed his address as Shore Road, Annapolis County.

They both belonged to various Facebook groups, felt they shared some common interests, and decided to meet in person. Nothing like a little April pizza in the Valley.

The whole sordid legal mess got off to a rocky start when Ellis’s original defence lawyer, Chris Manning of Kentville, was appointed to the bench in June 2017. Thus, began Jordan Michael’s slow, arduous search for a new lawyer.

At least three legal aid lawyers accepted the disclosure on the case, but ultimately passed for various reasons.

Of course, never far from the fore of minds was the talented & fragrant Wanda Ellis, dutiful mom of the accused and a long-serving, popular and well-liked member of the local sheriff’s department. In other words, a well-known and well-connected employee of the N.S. Justice Department.

It was just a bloody litany of stops and starts from the get-go. This lawyer was in conflict, this judge was in conflict, this Crown was in conflict. And on and on it went. Small delays add up to big delays.

As bad as all that was, the single largest obstacle getting in the way of having this rape case decided on merit, and not by timeclock, was outstanding disclosure and downright botched disclosure.

There’s a missing email from the victim. There are missing photographs, all 47 of them, of the crime scene, the front seat of the car. There’s a missing rape kit. There are missing notes from the sexual assault nurse examiner. The young lady’s statement to the nurse examiner is missing, as is a disc full of photographs of the young lady’s bruised private parts.

By this time Jordan Ellis had put his fate in the hands of crafty Kentville lawyer Zeb Brown, who would go on to delay proceedings until true disclosure was achieved and missing evidence, after considerable delay, miraculously surfaced.

Brown would delay proceedings even over matters which were not particularly useful or substantive to his client’s innocence. (Ellis said there was intercourse, but it was consensual sex.)

The missing, then suddenly found — 24 miles from the Bridgetown RCMP Detachment — SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examination) photographs and notes caused a February to June delay.

Defence lawyer Brown, long contemplating lost evidence arguments, in June applied to have the rape trial stayed under R. v. Jordan.

In the final analysis, Judge Alan Tufts calculated that the case had dragged on for 25.6 months, much over the 18-month time limit.

“Not so!” said Senior Crown out of Kentville, Bob Morrison, who as they say had “carriage of the file for trial purposes.”

Morrison, opposing the stay, calculated back in July that a fairer assessment was 16 months. He was optimistic that once all delays were calculated, the total running time would be under 18 months.

Morrison presented the court with a brief suggesting that in three instances of delays, the Crown was unavoidably not at fault.

“Not so!” said Judge Tufts, and on August 22 accused rapist Jordan Ellis ran off to celebrate his good fortune.

Meantime, the young lady in question took a phone call from Crown Bob which she never wanted to take.

Morrison suggested they get together face to face, to wit, he arranged a Friday, August 30 afternoon meeting at the Crown Attorney’s Office in Pictou, where the woman now lives.

The young lady suggested he bring his boss, Western Region Chief Crown Ingrid Brodie, with him. He did.

What followed was a lively, insightful, two-hour discussion of this train wreck of a rape case.

Although, no great villain was ultimately agreed upon by all parties, the practises, the clumsiness, the very unexplained casualness of the Bridgetown RCMP detachment was in the forefront, as duly noted in the following quotations (see next page) taken directly from the two-hour meeting transcript as laboriously prepared by F.T.S., or Frankland Transcript Services.