Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, August 24, 2002

Guilty woman a 'liar': judge

Jake Rupert
The Ottawa Citizen


The Ottawa Citizen
Cathy Fordham was convicted of uttering death threats.

Cathy Fordham sat in an Ottawa courtroom yesterday, her head hanging, as a judge rejected her testimony and called her a liar.

Justice Rommel Massé convicted Ms. Fordham on three counts of uttering death threats.

Ms. Fordham, 32, who has falsely complained to the police before about crimes committed against her, will be sentenced in October. Assistant Crown attorney Suzanne Schriek is expected to ask for jail time. Until then, Ms. Fordham is free on bail.

Ms. Fordham was previously convicted of wrongly accusing two men of assaulting her, while a rape case against a man she had accused was stayed by the Crown's office.

Another man, Jamie Nelson, spent 31/2 years in prison during the late 1990s after being convicted of raping Ms. Fordham, based largely on her testimony. Mr. Nelson, 34, was in the courtroom yesterday to watch the proceedings.

Exactly one year ago yesterday, after he'd completed his prison sentence, Mr. Nelson was acquitted of the rape by a three-judge panel at the Ontario Court of Appeal, with the consent of the Crown.

Ms. Fordham's lack of credibility became the basis of fresh evidence that led to Mr. Nelson's acquittal.

In its decision, the judges at the Court of Appeal called Mr. Nelson's conviction "a miscarriage of justice."

Also yesterday, Ms. Fordham pleaded guilty to one count of failing to appear in court.

Mr. Nelson said just to hear her utter the word "guilty" was worth the trip from Kingston, where he now lives and attends Queen's University.

"To finally hear her say the word guilty was very satisfying for me," he said. "Especially on this day. Maybe she's starting to realize her actions have consequences."

Ms. Fordham had no comment after the verdict, but the man she threatened to kill three times did.

Steve Brown was going through a messy breakup with Ms. Fordham in the summer and fall of 2000 when the death threats were made.

"Maybe this is the start of the repairing of all the things that got damaged," he said. "She's ruined quite a few lives, and some of them will never be fully repaired. The lesson here is people should be careful who they date. She made it seem like she was one type of person, but, I know now, it was all lies. It was like night and day."

During the trial, court heard that after their breakup Ms. Fordham accused Mr. Brown of assaulting her, but charges were never laid. After this, she threatened to kill Mr. Brown in messages to his lawyer, a police officer and directly to him. Tapes of the messages made by Mr. Brown's lawyer, Dean Adema, were played at trial.

"One call she said, 'I f...ed your father last night. You're mother is a lesbian. Why don't you cut off your penis'," Mr. Adema testified.

Mr. Adema said he didn't take the calls as more than a major headache until she left a message saying she was going to kill Mr. Brown with a sword.

Also since Mr. Nelson was sent to prison, a search of police records shows Ms. Fordham has made dozens of complaints against people.

Mr. Nelson is suing Ms. Fordham, the police officer who did the rape investigation, the Ottawa police force, the Crown attorney who prosecuted him and the Ontario Attorney General's Ministry for the way the case against him was handled.

The first settlement conference in the matter is scheduled for next month.

© Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Citizen