TORONTO – Roy Preston, the man charged with the 2015 sexual assault of Destiny Douglas while he was the then-19-year-old’s superior at a local security firm, had his appeal denied in Toronto court last week and will serve three years in prison.
Ms. Douglas, now of Sudbury, and her boyfriend made the trip to Toronto’s Ontario Court of Appeal on Tuesday of last week to hear the appeal. She told The Expositor that the defense attorney made their submissions to the panel of three judges first, followed by the Crown.
“Most of it was an argument in that the (original) judge made an error in believing me,” Ms. Douglas said, “and that the judge didn’t properly take into account the fact that no one heard anything while the assault was taking place. They were grasping at straws.”
Ms. Douglas said the judges took only a half hour before they came back with their decision: the original decision stood, the appeal was denied, and Mr. Preston must serve out the three years in jail to which he was originally sentenced.
“This was the last sigh of relief,” an exuberant Ms. Douglas continued. “Finally, this is the last time I have to feel worried.”
“I’ve been validated,” the survivor continued. “Other people believed what happened. He put up a good show for the public, and now everyone knows the truth.”
In a rare and brave move, Ms. Douglas had invited this newspaper to attend the 2018 hearing of the accused in her sexual assault, waiving her right to a publication ban to ensure her story was known. Following the story’s release, other victims came forward and reached out to Ms. Douglas, moved to tell their own stories of survival. Several others also came to The Expositor, also waiving publication bans to tell their stories.
“I had to fight for this very hard,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. I had to reach out to get information. I had to push and push and push. Victims should not have to do that.”
Ms. Douglas still maintains her Facebook page ‘Life After – Inspirational’ where she offers advice to other victims of sexual assault and welcomes private messages from those people needing someone to talk to.
“I’m trying to get victims to stand up for their rights,” she continued. “They often get pushed around by the system.”
While Ms. Douglas was accompanied last week by her boyfriend, she found the big city courtroom setting unnerving, especially without the circle of support that Manitoulin had provided her.
There was a lightness in Ms. Douglas’ voice, and exuberance, that did not exist last year. While she has not had a full-time job since the assault, Ms. Douglas hopes to return to school in September and study to be a paralegal.
“Now I can focus on my future,” she said. “I am really passionate about the legal field now. My main goal is to do what I love.”
As was reported previously, Ms. Douglas suffered numerous health issues following the assault, including weight loss.
“I’ve gained a lot of my weight back and I’m very healthy, other than my heart but that’s a congenital defect,” she shared. “I’m starting to live again. The last year has been so great.”
Ms. Douglas said that if the case had gone to retrial, she doesn’t think she could have gone through it again. “I couldn’t have gone through that again, but knowing that it wasn’t my fault; that it was the fault of the system.”
To other victims of sexual assault Ms. Douglas had the following advice: “Stick with it, keep fighting. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s well worth it in the end. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.”
“It’s 2019, times are changing,” Ms. Douglas concluded. “Victims have nothing to be ashamed of.”
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual or domestic assault, contact the Haven House crisis phone by calling 1-800-465-6788. If it’s an emergency, call 9-1-1.