Kevin Schoenfeldt (3L)
“Why don’t you stop hitting yourself? Why don’t you stop hitting yourself? Why don’t you stop hitting yourself?” The words rang out across the Osgoode Hall cafeteria on Monday afternoon in a scene that has become increasingly common at courthouses throughout Canada.
Rachel Friedman, a courthouse employee, witnessed the event: “Everything was normal and then I hear shouting and I see Judge Schittman on the ground, his shoulders pinned down by a woman I’d never seen before. I can’t really explain it, but he just wouldn’t stop hitting himself. She kept asking why, why why, but he wasn’t answering. I really think we deserve an answer to that question. Why didn’t he just stop hitting himself?”
The woman who had Judge Schittman pinned down was Sarah Striker, a lawyer specializing in representing sexual assault complainants. In a phone call with UV she gave this comment: “Listen, if Judge A. Schittman can’t stop hitting himself, how is that my problem? He needs to take some personal responsibility. You don’t see me going around hitting myself do you?”
When asked about the fact that she pinned Schittman down on the cafeteria floor, Striker responded, “That’s just something that happens to judges. If you’re going to be a judge, walking around in the courthouse, sometimes you’re going to get pinned down on the floor. He knew that when he became a judge.”
In response to the events, Judge Schittman urged the police to press charges. However, police spokesperson Franklin Strop told reporters at a press conference that charges were unlikely. “We have numerous witnesses who saw Schittman striking himself. We will complete a full investigation, but at this point it does not appear that there are grounds for any criminal charges.”
Judge Schittman released a statement to the press Tuesday morning:
It is unacceptable that this keeps happening to judges across Canada. This problem must be addressed. I simply do not understand how our legal system can continue to plead ignorance when it comes to the issue of male judges being pinned down on courthouse cafeteria floors and being asked why they don’t stop hitting themselves. We should not allow this kind of oppression to continue in this great nation of ours. If Access to Justice for Judges is going to mean anything, action must be taken.
Later that day, Judge Schittman acquitted Sherman Petit of three charges of assault on the grounds that he was a “promising young man” who had recently been accepted to law school.