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Rape survivor wins right in Kamloops court to tell her own story

Candace Henri overturned a court order that barred her name from being publicized after her sexual assault. She's pictured here in front of a grocery store in 2018 where she last saw her rapist and celebrated 90-days sobriety on the same day.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Candace Henri


When a Kamloops area woman's rapist was finally charged, and later convicted, it was the court's rules that barred her from speaking out.

It was a rule she didn't know about until just before he pleaded guilty in April.

Candace Henri's name, like nearly every other sexual assault survivor in Canada, was protected by a publication ban. It's a rule that not only stops journalists from publishing her name, but it can also prevent her from speaking out and telling her own story.

She went to court more than a month after Troy Schank was sentenced where she successfully had the ban revoked in a Kamloops courtroom.

"I knew I needed to speak my truth," Henri said just days after Justice Dennis Hori approved her application. "Troy doesn't get another nameless victim."

With the publication ban, she sees the court as labelling her a nameless victim, but without it she is a survivor, now able to tell her story. Their use can protect those who want to avoid being labelled as victims and help with those those apprehensive to report their assault, yet Henri feels the bans also serve to further stigmatize sexual assaults.

It's is like a "Fight Club-style topic" and even the word rape can make people uncomfortable, she said.

In the past year, Schank has been convicted twice for the sexual assaults of three separate women and acquitted in another case. In April, he was sentenced for Henri's case, along with another unnamed woman.

Between the two victims in the most recent case, Henri was the only one who was there to watch. She spent months preparing to testify, expecting Schank was heading to trial, but he decided to plead guilty less than two weeks before they were scheduled for court.

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"I was just living my life and Troy rapes me. Then for the next six years, in my future I know there's a trial because he was still out there and I know he's going to get his at some point," she said. "I was so ready to go up there and this change of plans just floored me."

Pleas will often spare victims from the difficulty of reproducing a traumatic assault as they testify, but Henri was prepared. She wanted her say.

She attended, joined by friends and family, and delivered a scathing and confessional victim impact statement. Schank already in jail, appeared by video. On April 22, she faced him as she explained the pain he left her over the years, how it rippled to her loved ones and how she's learned to live with his crime.

"In 2022, I was trying to cope with my own life, but the manifestation of your darkness started taking over my external world. It had been years, yet here we are. You won’t leave," she said in court. "I tried to go to Music in the Park that summer one night with a group of friends. I had a panic attack when I saw the crowd and had to go. Thanks for the memory. The impact alone from the time, energy and effort that this has taken from my life is immeasurable."

Although prosecutors edited her statement before she read it in court, it was lengthy, detailed and scathing.

"I hope that knowing what you did to me, how you handled yourself and continue to makes you sick. I hope it keeps you up at night," she said to Schank.

With family and friends behind her in the courtroom, Henri continued for several minutes as she described the ways that Schank turned her life upside down.

"I did the things. I came forward, I told them what you did to me. To my body. MY body. The same body that has to healed from bruises you left. The damage and pain created inside and outside of my vagina, bum and legs. A rape kit. I had never had one before. Have you? Do you know what they do to your body? They photograph you. They take your fingernails. This is my body we’re talking about. I can still see it. I can still feel it. The only parts of me that left that experience whole are the parts of my body, and clothing leaving that room in a paper bag that day. I also lost my job to get that kit done, then was forced to live with my power cut off and I was evicted. I had to rely on strangers for survival because I couldn’t stand to be in my body. You are the creator of it all," she said.

While Schank was sentenced to a total five years in jail for three sexual assaults, Henri will be spending that time still living with the trauma. Her hands shake sometimes as she speaks, she has difficulty trusting new people and sometimes avoids social situations. It's been a long journey for her.

In the fall of 2018, she saw him at a downtown Kamloops grocery store. She was with her mother, proud of reaching 90 days of sobriety, but still haunted by Schank.

Speaking to iNFOnews.ca in her backyard, Henri said, discovering now how to live after the weight of Schank's assault and, finally, his sentencing. Even that she's alive now, after her mental health struggles and her trauma, is something Henri is grateful for.

"I guess I don't really know what life after Troy means. I was raped, then a lot of days went by, then the ban and today is the first day without it being on," she said. "I feel amazing. I feel like my ancestors would be proud of me. I feel like I just want to hug everybody."

Henri lives with her two children in a town outside Kamloops. She's focused on them, on her art and her mental health.

READ MORE: Kamloops serial rapist gets sentence doubled

"I'm not even supposed to be alive right now if I had it my way, but I'm here and life is so good," she said.

Last year, Schank was found guilty of raping a woman while she slept in 2021. That woman was assaulted three years after Henri, three years after Henri told police she believed he would do it again.

Henri went to the hospital in 2018 after she was assaulted where a doctor examined her and collected evidence with a rape kit. Then she went to Kamloops RCMP to give a statement.

Between the RCMP detachment and the hospital, the evidence kit would be lost for years, only for it t o turn up after he had assaulted at least one other woman. It's part of the reason she wanted to have her publication ban revoked. Not only because she wanted to tell her story of overcoming the trauma of Schank's crime, but also to speak more freely about the authorities that lost crucial evidence for years.

She told police in 2018 Schank would "do it again." But he was charged for his assault on Henri in October 2022, more than four years after it happened. The misplaced rape kit likely would have come up in court had Schank taken his case to trial, but his guilty pleas averted that.

Henri's right to have the publication ban revoked wouldn't have been possible without the advocacy of other survivors that came to a head less than a year ago.

After she learned that she couldn't identify herself, Henri and her mother researched publication bans and what could be done about them. That's when they found Kelly Favro's name.

The Vancouver Island woman is one of several who advocated to MPs through the group My Voice My Choice to influence change to federal laws around publication bans that effectively muzzled victims.

"When Kelly Favro came forward and went to the government and fought for the right for me to even have this ban revoked without his lawyer present -— it's incredible," Henri said, praising Favro's advice and newly-formed friendship.

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The advocacy started in earnest in January 2023 and by October the Criminal Code was amended to allow victims a chance to have their publication bans changed or revoked even without input from the accused. Although the bans are in place to protect a victim's identity, the offender's name will often be protected from publication if naming them could feasibly identify the victim. They were never mandatory, but putting a ban in place is one of the first things a Crown prosecutor does once a case is before the courts.

Favro was assaulted nearly a decade ago, but her advocacy started years later after her abuser tried to appeal his sentence and she returned to court. She became an outspoken advocate for changing the legislation that restricted victims from speaking out. Her efforts through My Voice My Choice was never to get rid of the bans entirely. The purpose was, as the name suggests, to give survivors a choice.

Before the change, the accused could have a say in whether the ban remains in place. Even in Henri's case, the Crown suggested to the judge that they wait for Schank's lawyer to join in the courtroom before making a decision. Justice Dennis Hori knew better and said the defence lawyer would not be needed before approving Henri's application on June 10.

While it can serve to protect those who don't wish to broadcast what happened to them, it can also serve to further stigmatize sexual assaults, which is ironic because that's the reason they came into practice in the first place. Decades ago when the bans came into use, they were used to shield victims from becoming known as rape victims, she said.

"There was a lot of shame when you got raped. There was a lot of victim blaming. A lot of what were you wearing, how much did you have to drink, why did you go to his apartment?" she said.

If a publication ban is broken, a person could be held in contempt of court, which could apply to victims, journalists or anyone else who would broadcast either their names or enough information that could identify them. When Favro initially went to court she found people there were confused about why she would want her publication ban removed and how it could be done at all.

"It's kind of like nobody wants to go above and beyond to help somebody who just wants to share their story, and thank God we were able to get that law changed because now there's no criminal liability on victims anymore," she said. "We don't want to scream from the highest mountain that this person attacked me. We want to scream that we survived this shit and you don't need to be afraid to report," Favro said.

Go here for more information on "My Voice My Choice."

Henri's full victim impact statement can be read below.

Victim Impact Statement by InfoNews on Scribd

NOTE TO READERS: If you find yourself in need of support please contact one of these organizations. Help is available 24 hours a day at each of these phone numbers:

  • VictimLinkBC: 1-800-563-0808
  • Vancouver Rape Relief crisis line: 604-872-8212
  • Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre crisis line: 1-888-974-7278

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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