'Don't You Bully Me - Justice I Want If There is Justice to Be Had': The Rape of Mary Ann Burton, London, Ontario, 1907

Jonathan Swainger and Constance Backhouse eds. People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003) 60-94

34 Pages Posted: 20 May 2013  

Constance B. Backhouse

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

In 1907, Mary Ann Burton launched a complaint of rape against Joseph Gray in London, Ontario. Judicial decisions and literature at the time claimed that rape was “an accusation easily to be made”, despite the common knowledge that rape was underreported. Mary Ann Burton's case sets no legal precedent; she was treated with suspicion and hostility, and the charges were ultimately dismissed by the court. Yet Mrs. Burton resisted the antagonism she experienced – namely tactics by defence counsel to attack her character, her image as a “worthy victim”, her credibility, and her recollection of every finite detail of the incident. She remained resolute in her testimony and her right to be protected from rape, in the face of pernicious commentary from acquaintances, and a courtroom that systematically discredited and ultimately dismissed her based largely on her gender and class.

Keywords: rape, Marry, Anne, Burton, London, Ontario, Canada, Canadian, Law, legal, gender, class, sex, criminal, crime, defence, counsel, victim, sexual, assault, credibility, testimony, testify, witness, history, historical, biography, biographical, Backhouse, 1900s, twentieth, 20th century, feminist

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Constance B., 'Don't You Bully Me - Justice I Want If There is Justice to Be Had': The Rape of Mary Ann Burton, London, Ontario, 1907 (2003). Jonathan Swainger and Constance Backhouse eds. People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003) 60-94. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263418 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2263418

Constance B. Backhouse (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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