Dr. Elana Fric: An Epilogue
The tragic story of Dr. Elana Fric is a sad reminder that violence against women is enabled by a justice system that is naïve to the ways and methods of perpetrators. Education for the judiciary can help level the playing field, from sexual assault to femicide. Bill C-337 is a step in that direction.
Dr. Elana Fric: An Epilogue
Dr. Elana Fric, a beloved Toronto family physician was brutally and viciously murdered by her husband days after she asked him for a divorce. This act was cumulative of years of emotional and physical abuse she suffered at his hands, all in secret and unknown to family and friends. Until the end, which was violent and final. He robbed his three children of a loving mother and her parents of a devoted daughter; he robbed her friends of a fun loving companion and the community of a dedicated and caring physician.
The killer of Dr. Elana Fric was sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 14 years on a possible maximum of 25. With the 2.5 years dead time he has already served, parole eligibility could come in just over 10 years. For a life sentence. This is outrageous and signals that the courts do not take seriously femicide and domestic violence.
This sentence is a travesty of justice and demonstrates deep flaws within the justice system that not only leaves families feeling without justice, but communities echoing the sentiment. The killer confessed on the stand that he wished he had killed himself that night, clearly an empty statement and an attempt at mercy. His actions have been nothing short of self preservation, from dumping her body to negotiating a plea deal. A shamed and guilty man should want to make full atonement for his crime as the first step to some kind of redemption. That he doesn’t see this is a symptom of his sickness. That he thinks he deserves mercy is part of his delusion. That he gets it is part of ours.
The 14 letters of recommendation, the testimonials, mean nothing in these cases. Perpetrators set themselves up as upstanding and beyond reproach, it’s part of their modus operandi. That it actually works to lessen the sentence is where the travesty comes in. Of course people liked him, of course he had friends. The nature of his crime is the long-con, his target, his most intimate partner, the mother of his children. He may have been tried on the one act of second-degree murder, but the years of abuse and control he inflicted on her must be set within a pattern of domestic violence and femicide. This wasn’t him getting mad and losing control. This was him exerting every ounce of control that he had, up until the very last minute when he pled guilty, dragging out his game until the very end. There are no mitigating factors in femicide. There can’t be. She was killed because she was his wife, his woman. End of story.
We can grow and nurture another brilliant neurosurgeon, but we cannot bring back Elana Fric, or any woman killed in violence. His career should not be a factor in his sentencing except to indicate that he should have known better. An educated man who had dedicated his life to “do no harm” broke his oath. His years of education in the finest medical schools should have taught him in at some point that this behaviour is unacceptable. Completely and with no excuse. Her children cannot have their mother back, her parents will die broken hearted without her, her friends and family will grieve forever. A person who feels true remorse will stop at nothing to assuage it. Instead, we are presented with testimonials to his good standing and a plea for a shortened sentence in an attempt to continue the con. His friends and colleagues were conned. And the judge was conned too.
In its 2017 budget, the federal government allocated funds for gender-based violence and sexual assault training for federal judges. Former Conservative MP, Rona Ambrose, as one of her last acts as MP, acquired all party House of Commons support in passing her private member bill C-337, the Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act. It has been stuck in the Senate for almost two years and is at threat of dying on the floor with Parliament adjourning in weeks for the election. This, too, is unacceptable. The judiciary needs education on gender-based violence and femicide in order to effectively discharge their duties. Better education for our judiciary around femicide and gender-based violence might mean that one day, the judge rejects the recommendation of counsel and imposes the full sentence for these heinous crimes demonstrating zero tolerance for violence against women. Bill C-337 is a step in that direction.
Federation of Medical Women of Canada