Landrex Professor Lise Gotell Quoted in Toronto Star Article on the Retrial of Cindy Gladue's Accused Murderer

18 January 2021

A case that caused national outrage and shone a light on systemic racism in the justice system is heading back to court on Monday, as the accused faces a charge in the death of Cindy Gladue for a second time.

Bradley Barton will be in an Edmonton courtroom facing a charge of manslaughter after the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a retrial in 2019. The Ontario trucker was previously acquitted on charges of manslaughter and first-degree murder after Gladue was found dead in a blood-smeared bathtub in Barton's hotel room in 2011.

The case has received international attention and been called potentially precedent-setting, because its outcome could have ramifications on a question that has never been clearly settled in a Canadian court: Can a person consent to sexual activity when there is an objective likelihood of serious harm or death.

The "rough sex" murder defence, or the idea a person could consent to sex so violent it would kill them, is a matter of dispute in courts globally, said Lise Gotell, a women's and gender studies professor at the University of Alberta who was involved in the first trial as an intervener in her role with the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund.

"It is absolutely central, but it's never been a question that has been settled by the Supreme Court, or indeed, by Parliament (in Canada)," Gotell said.

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