Whatever David Dewees did or did not do, he was not accused of what The Toronto Star printed before he committed suicide by laying across railroad tracks: molestation of young boys. Yet, the newspaper (the largest in Canada) published a story on his death that can only be described as remarkably cold and callous.
In its publication today, the Star recounts how Dewees, a popular teacher at the Christian-based Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney, Ontario had “died an innocent man.” It then, however, writes the entire article with a mocking presumption of guilt. This is precisely why I have written and spoken against the rule that you “cannot defame the dead,” here.
The newspaper quickly asks “was it guilt of another kind, shame and self-loathing, that made the 32-year-old lie down on the tracks at High Park subway station Saturday morning rather than face trial?” Well, then there is the fact (buried deep in the article) that the newspaper earlier reported that he had actually molested little boys:
The Star, it must be acknowledged, got the charges wrong in a Friday digest item that said Dewees had been charged with sexually assaulting two 13-year-olds. There was no assault alleged by police. The distinction is important though it’s doubtful – this too can never be ascertained – such an error (corrected) had much impact on Dewees’ state of mind.
“The distinction is important though it’s doubtful”? The difference is between alleged Internet solicitation and actual molestation of boys. The newspaper goes on to say that the Dewees’ family with have to deal with ” the taint of cowardliness.” Most such solicitations, while potentially criminal in their own right, do not result in actual acts of molestation and are given far lower sentences, including probation without jail.
The newspaper admits that the police have withheld the details of any alleged crime but still speculates in purple prose where “Dewees really did lie prone on the rails and wait for an oncoming train to mangle his body, condemning himself to those moments of terrifying anticipation, then he embraced a worse comeuppance than any retribution the courts could impose. This was a ritualistic punishment, a self-mutilation.” Wow.
Not done, the newspaper accuses him of shunting blame on to others and acting guilty.
What is most striking is that the newspaper expressly states “our law affords no protection from libel to the dead. So we will assume by his actions, and for the purpose of exploring this awful event, that Dewees was guilty as charged.” Unbelievable.
For the Star article, click here.