Ottawa Citizen
Saturday 25 August 2001

Wrongly jailed man strikes back

Jamie Nelson files complaint against Cathy Fordham for alleging he raped her

Jake Rupert
The Ottawa Citizen

Brigitte Bouvier, The Ottawa Citizen / Jamie Nelson met up with Ken Hall, yesterday, the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended him against sexual assault charges. It was an emotional reunion.

A day after successfully appealing his wrongful conviction for rape, Jamie Nelson filed a complaint with the Ottawa police against the woman who falsely accused him.

In the mid-afternoon yesterday, Det. Gary Grainger, one of the officers assigned to the file, confirmed they will be investigating whether to lay charges against Cathy Fordham.

In 1996, Ms. Fordham, 30, who maintains Mr. Nelson raped her, filed a complaint against Mr. Nelson, 34, and testified in court. Based solely on her testimony, Mr. Nelson was convicted of sexual assault, assault, forcible confinement and uttering death threats. He spent three years in some of Canada's worst prisons.

Since his conviction, Ms. Fordham has been exposed as a person willing to lie to police and judges. She has been convicted of laying a false complaint against two men she accused of beating her in 1998. Another man she said raped her had his charges dropped.

Another charge of making false complaints to police was withdrawn in May in a plea bargain that saw her plead guilty to threatening to kill a former boyfriend.

Two weeks ago, at her sentencing for the threat, she told Justice Hugh Fraser, the same judge that had convicted Mr. Nelson, she wanted to strike her plea. The matter will be in court Monday morning. Mr. Nelson will be attending.

So bad has Ms. Fordham's credibility become, assistant Crown attorney Scott Hutchinson joined with Mr. Nelson's appeal lawyer Todd Ducharme in asking the appeal court for an acquittal on Thursday.

Three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal took less than five minutes to grant the acquittal Thursday after reading a mountain of fresh evidence of Ms. Fordham's ways.

Both Mr. Nelson, who says he doesn't hate Ms. Fordham but rather feels sorry for her, and Mr. Ducharme feel she should be charged with crimes in relation to her complaint against Mr. Nelson. If for nothing else, to send a message to people who have, or might, make false complaints, they say.

"When somebody abuses our legal system and that abuse brings down the mighty weight of that system on someone, that person must be held accountable," Mr. Nelson said.

Mr. Ducharme went so far as to say he would pursue a private prosecution if the police and Crown's office don't lay charges. Assistant Crown attorney Donna Eastwood said it is too early to tell if charges will be laid. "We're not in a position to say yes or no right now," she said yesterday. "It's something that remains to be determined."

Mr. Nelson says he's not looking for revenge -- simply justice. "I spent three years in prison based on false testimony. Giving false testimony is a crime. I'm seeking the assistance of the Ottawa police in making sure the law is applied," he said. "The complaint is filed. Now we'll see what happens."

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.