Case Update: Open Letter to Damien Starrett

Ares on his first birthday; November 16, 2019.
(Global News)

Damien,

It has come to my attention that you have read and disapprove of my blog posts about Ares and your involvement in the case.

I want to mention that I’m not hiding behind anonymity; my name and picture are on the blog’s About page, and I interact with readers, the families of victims, and other people all the time. I don’t go out of my way to publish my last name, mainly for my family’s protection, but it’s not classified information.

You mentioned that you could tell from my language that I’m not a professional. That is correct; I’m just some human with a blog, a podcast, a snarky sense of humor, a interest in true crime, a penchant for writing, a deeply ingrained sense of justice, a love for children, and a dream. It’s true; I often make my feelings known through my work, but that’s only because I feel strongly about the kids whose stories I cover.

I didn’t go through all of your posts to cherry-pick segments that would make you look bad; I posted screenshots that were sent to me. It’s very possible I missed some context in doing so. For the record, I had nothing to do with any of your posts being deleted or reported.

Yesterday’s post came about because, based on what I read, saw, and was told, it appeared that your behavior was inappropriate, but again, I’m only writing what I see, read, and hear. I’m certain there is more information than I’ve reported, but if I had that information, I would indeed report it. For example, I don’t have access to your bail hearing transcript or toxicology reports, but if I did, I would be more than happy to include that information in any future posts I make on the case. I’m not here to demonize anyone unfairly or to hide the truth; I’m here to tell your son’s story, and the stories of many children who have been silenced by child abuse.

I have never inferred that your actions were intentional or that you meant to hurt Ares. I reported that drugs were involved because that was what the online news stories were saying about Ares’s case back in November, and that was what sources close to the family (such as your grandfather’s Facebook post) said. If it’s been proven that no illicit drugs were involved, that would rightfully factor into my perspective on the case.

I will end this post with an open offer: if you are so inclined, I would be glad to interview you for an episode of Suffer the Little Children Podcast so you can tell your side of the story without being drowned out. I may be snarky in my blog posts, but I can assure you I am most respectful in conversation.

Signed,

Laine

3 comments

  1. I would like to thank you for your coverage of this case. Ironically due to Canada’s bizarre (from an American standard) privacy laws, you report more about this case than the Canadian media is legally permitted to. I’m actually an American living in the Edmonton area, and this case and a couple of others was my “culture shock introduction” to Canadian privacy laws where the accused is afforded more privacy and consideration than victims. And the public never learns about some cases because if the victim had siblings that are minor children, reporting the case is seen as “violating their privacy”. Seriously. I have a sister-in-law who is a social worker that has dealt with child abuse cases numerous times in her career, and her explanation of the rights of abusers in this country made me want to vomit.

    I would also like to suggest that you do some research on sentencing guidelines in the Canadian criminal justice system. I can tell that you sincerely care about these poor babies and children that you write about. Even if found guilty, this man is going to receive a very light sentence that any American would be shocked and sickened by. Why does Starrett act this way? Because he knows he can get away with it and there will be zero legal consequences. The worst that will happen is that the judge will lecture him at his sentencing. The sentencing won’t change as a result and all the time he’s spent in jail over this will count towards time served. It is also much easier in this country for guilty verdicts to be overturned due to police and/or prosecution errors. They might even reduce his prison time over such a possibility. I am only telling you this because I want you to consider emotionally preparing yourself for these possibilities.

    Anyway, thank you again, keep up your righteous work, and I hope that the outcome of this case does not discourage you from reporting on Canadian cases. No Canadian or Canadian resident presents things honestly because they’d get in more legal trouble than the abuser/murderer would.

    • Hi, Pearl! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Unfortunately, I’m prepared for a ridiculously light sentence in this case. The Canadian justice system is unfathomably lenient toward even the most violent of crimes. I’m actually a Canadian citizen living in the US, and while I was in high school in Alberta, baby murderino that I was, I remember writing a letter to the government protesting the upcoming release of Karla Homolka. I’m appalled that Jasmine Richardson, who was 12 in 2006 when she convinced her 23-year-old boyfriend to murder her mother, father, and eight-year-old brother in Medicine Hat, is now walking the streets with a new identity at the age of 26. And then there’s Vince Li, who stabbed, beheaded, and cannibalized 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008; in his case, he was severely mentally ill at the time of the crime, but no matter how well he responded to his treatment, I can’t fathom why and how he was granted day passes from prison in 2015 and absolute discharge in 2017 for a crime so gruesome that one of the first officers on scene, RCMP Corporal Ken Barker, committed suicide due to PTSD from what he saw that day.

      TL;DR. Sorry for ranting! All I meant to say was that even if Damien Starrett is allowed to terrorize the streets of Fort Saskatchewan and beyond a lot sooner than any of us would hope, especially Ashton and her daughter, it won’t scare me away from covering Canadian cases in the future. 🙂

      • Oooh! You are Canadian? You are such a badass for not being afraid to report the truth. Even more props to you!

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