Survivors of False Allegations Support Program

Survivors of False Allegations (SOFA) Support Program

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Schedule:

First and third Monday at 7:00PM – Practical Resources and Shared Experience (for all survivors of false allegations and their loved ones)
Second Monday at 7:00PM – Personal/Social Support (for those accused of sexual crimes only)

Fee: No charge

Description:

The Canadian Centre for Men and Families (CCMF), operating under the governance of its parent organization, the registered charity Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), is proud to offer an important new service for Survivors of False Allegations (SOFA). This program has been built in response to overwhelming client demand.

Program Objectives:

To provide a welcoming and non-judgmental environment that enables those who have been falsely accused or wrongfully convicted of domestic violence or sexual abuse, or a combination of both, to discuss their experience, share successes and failures within the criminal justice process, and address the unique emotional struggles that result from false accusations and wrongful convictions.

Eligibility:

A Client/Program Manager liaison will conduct an Intake Assessment that measures the probability of factual innocence. Factual innocence is demonstrated when the available evidence does not reasonably support a conclusion that the person charged has committed the offense.

Client Types:

– Those that have not been convicted in a criminal court of law
– Those that have been convicted in a criminal court of law
– Those who are seeking case advocacy for any of the following: media engagement, private prosecution, filing complaints to investigative bodies, referrals to innocence projects or other outside legal counsel
– Loved ones who seek resources alongside the attending falsely accused or wrongfully convicted individual
– Loved ones who seek resources in lieu of or on behalf of the incarcerated falsely accused or wrongfully convicted individual

Support Types:

1. Personal/Social Support
2. Practical Resources & Shared Experience
3. Case Advocacy

Program Services Detailed Break-Down:

1. Contact and intake:

  •  SOFA hotline and email address
  • Assessment interview
  • Referral to in-house and/or linked agencies / supports.

2. Practical Resources:

  • Information library.
  • In-house and linked external agencies
  • Shared experience group meetings with other SOFAs and their supporters:

3. Personal/Social Supports:

  • To provide personal support for coping with the overwhelming stresses, and the extremely difficult life challenges, faced by those who are falsely accused or wrongfully convicted, and their supporters.
  • Individual counselling
  • Peer support groups

4. Case Advocacy

5. Other appropriate supports/projects.

Secondary Objectives:

To collect data for the purposes of program development and evidence-based reporting on:
– Frequency of Client Types that request our services
– Support Type that is most often requested and attended
– Specific resources or linked supports that are most often requested
– Common denominators in causes of false accusation and/or wrongful conviction across all client cases
– Data specific to case advocacy

Survivors of False Allegations Program Policies

Zero Tolerance Policy

  1. The Survivors of False Accusations (SOFA) program exists to support individuals falsely accused or wrongly convicted of domestic violence, or sex crimes – historical or recent.
  1. We have a zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, and has always condemned those who abuse or have abused children or adults.
  1. SOFA takes its obligations to provide services seriously. It and its volunteers shall operate and conduct themselves in a professional manner. We require prospective applicants to demonstrate that they are factually innocent of any allegations of abuse that have been made against them.

Eligibility

  1. We have zero tolerance, and as such SOFA serves only those it considers to be factually innocent.
  1. The factually innocent may present themselves to us regardless of their status within the criminal justice system. Factual innocence is demonstrated when the available evidence does not reasonably support a conclusion that the person charged has committed the offense. When determining eligibility, SOFA’s assessment of factual innocence is made independently of any civil or criminal decisions.
  1. While SOFA recognizes the fundamental principle of innocent until proven guilty that is embedded within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we reserve the right to refuse those that can’t demonstrate factual innocence even if they haven’t been convicted. On the other hand, while one could argue that the decisions of courts should be respected, judges have often acknowledged that credibility and reliability judgments are complex and subjective. SOFA recognizes that each year too many people are found guilty in our Courts that are indeed factually innocent and are deserving of support. There would be no need for appeal courts, the Criminal Conviction Review Group or Innocence projects if wrongful convictions never occurred. The Attorney General of Canada previously issued a Directive for Prevention of Wrongful Convictions acknowledging the following contributing factors in wrongful convictions: tunnel vision, incomplete disclosure, eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, false accusations or perjury, guilty pleas, in-custody informers, forensic evidence and expert testimony, DNA evidence, and conduct of police and counsel.

Intake Assessment

  1. Each individual that reaches out to SOFA seeking support will have to agree to undergo an Intake Assessment conducted by a SOFA Client/Program Manager liaison before admission to the program.
  1. SOFA has designed a tiered Intake Assessment process tailored for an individual’s circumstance, whether they have been charged, convicted or acquitted.
  1. In the event a charged client moves to a convicted status during the course of their membership and they continue to attend support groups or seek case advocacy, we will subsequently conduct the appropriate Intake Assessment tier re-evaluating their eligibility.
  1. An Intake Assessment will also apply to loved ones who seek membership in lieu of or on behalf of the incarcerated falsely accused or wrongfully convicted individual.
  1. The Client/Program Manager liaison may make enquiries and ask difficult questions of prospective members during the assessment process.

Risk Considerations

  1. SOFA will immediately withdraw support, independent of any criminal process, should we discover an applicant or member is factually guilty of domestic violence or sex crimes.
  1. In many respects our Intake Assessment can be considered more rigorous than those used by professionals working in the criminal justice system. For example, social workers, probation/parole officers and other correctional facility workers are required to provide a service without seeking to make distinctions between those found guilty in a court of law as to whether or not they may be factually innocent. Whereas SOFA only provides services for the falsely accused or wrongfully convicted individual who meets our eligibility requirements for factual innocence.
  1. Where client cases are subject to publication bans, the SOFA Client/Program Manager, facilitator and liaisons shall respect the laws governing publication bans pursuant to Section 486.4 of the Criminal Code.
  1. The SOFA program is governed by CAFE’s Privacy Policy, Code of Conduct and the Canadian Centre for Men and Families’ (CCMF) Confidentiality Agreement.
  1. The SOFA program does not provide access to, or admit anyone under the age of 18.

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