28 Nov 2010

Vancouver man guilty of criminal negligence for botched circumcision of son gets one year in jail

The Vancouver Sun - March 26, 2010

One year in jail for Metro Vancouver man who circumcised son at home


METRO VANCOUVER — A Metro Vancouver man who circumcised his four-year-old son at home with a razor blade and blood coagulant meant for horses was sentenced Thursday to one year in jail followed by two years probation.

The man, identified only as DJW due to a publication ban, was found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in October of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Daniel Porte called for a jail term of 12 to 24 months followed by three years probation.

In April 2007, the man gave his son, DJ, honey wine before placing him on garbage bags on the kitchen floor. DJW then cut away the boy's foreskin with a razor blade.

As his son cried, the man sprinkled on him Wonder Dust, a blood coagulant meant for horses.

According to a summary of the case in Justice Marion Allan's October 2009 ruling, DJW, a former Jehovah's Witness, had told DJ the procedure would grant him "extra special protection from God" and allow him to eat Passover lamb, ice cream and pick all the movies he wanted for a week.

DJ eventually had to be taken to hospital, where the circumcision was completed.

DJW initially claimed a religious exemption but dropped the argument based on the judge's finding that the procedure wasn't performed with reasonable care, his former lawyer, Doug Christie told The Vancouver Sun in October.

The summary of the case also noted that in late 2004 or early 2005, DJW circumcised himself, using Band-Aids, peroxide and a roll of gauze and a clear plastic ring, which he believed would act as an anesthetic. The procedure left his penis infected.

DJ and his sister now live with their mother and DJW is banned from seeing them.

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  1. Dad who botched circumcision loses court appeal

    The Canadian Press December 22, 2011

    A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.

    The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.

    Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.

    But the court found the boy's father "changed his world view" over the ensuing years.

    "He came to understand that there was great utility in keeping the laws of Moses, including that of circumcision," the appeal ruling said.

    The trial judge found "that the accused decided that because so many disasters had befallen his family, he had to 'make things right with God."'

    The man, who had no medical training, tried to do the circumcision in 2007 after doctors refused to do it on the grounds the operation would require a general anesthesic, which couldn't be justified on a boy that age.

    Court documents say the man gave alcohol to the boy, referred to only by the initials D.J., and used a blade that was not as sharp as a surgical instrument. To stanch the bleeding, the man used a veterinary powder suitable only for livestock.

    The boy was taken to hospital four days later and required corrective surgery, including a proper circumcision. The surgeon testified his penis would have healed to be badly deformed.

    Among her reasons for convicting the man, the trial judge, who is not named, noted that the man had tried to circumcise himself a few years before he undertook the procedure on his son.

    His actions caused "his foreskin to bleed in nine places, requiring the assistance of 911 and sutures in hospital," resulting in an infected penis.

    "The accused was aware of the dangers of performing a circumcision on his son," the trial judge wrote.

    The man, who was not named, was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon for the incident with his son.

    At the man's original trial, the judge in the case convicted him on the negligence charge but acquitted him on the assault charges.

    He appealed his conviction, arguing his religious beliefs should have allowed him to do the procedure, but the Appeal Court rejected the appeal.

    "The accused's religion did not demand that the circumcision be performed by the accused himself, nor did the trial judge find that religious necessity dictated that the circumcision be performed immediately so that the accused was left with no alternative but to perform the operation himself," the appeal court ruling said.

    "Thus, it is not the accused's religious beliefs that are at issue, but the rights and best interests of D.J. with respect to whether he should have been subjected to an attempted circumcision by his father in the circumstances and conditions under which it was attempted."

    The Crown appealed the acquittals on the assault charges and while the appeal court rejected the charge of assault with a weapon, it imposed a conviction on the charge of aggravated assault.

    The court has ordered new sentencing for the man, who was originally given two years in prison under the criminal negligence charge.


  2. Supreme Court to hear case of B.C. dad's botched home circumcision on 4-year-old

    By Natalie Stechyson, Postmedia News November 16, 2012

    OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will hear on Friday the dramatic case of a B.C. father who, for religious reasons, tried to circumcise his four-year-old son on his kitchen floor with a carpet blade and a blood coagulant meant for horses.

    Among the many issues the court will have to consider is the meaning of criminal negligence, and whether religious beliefs can go into the determination of what is reasonable behaviour, said Carissima Mathen, a law professor at the University of Ottawa.

    “When you have something like this where, on an objective basis, the benefits of this procedure are mixed, and it seems like the primary motivation for circumcising your son is cultural or religious, are those beliefs something that we should factor into whether this a reasonable thing for someone to have done?” Mathen said.

    “It raises questions such as why is it, in fact, that we permit infant circumcision?”

    A trial judge found that over the years after his son’s birth, the father known only as D.J.W. decided to “make things right with God” by following the laws of Moses, according to court documents. This included circumcision.

    The trial judge found that D.J.W. had consulted with two rabbis and four physicians, and had asked several doctors to perform his son’s circumcision. None would do it because the boy would have required a general anesthetic, which could not be justified for a child so young.

    In 2007, after giving his son some homemade honey wine, D.J.W. attempted to circumcise the boy on the kitchen floor, according to court documents, wounding him in the process.

    The boy later had to have corrective surgery.

    D.J.W. was found guilty in 2009 of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, but was acquitted of two other charges. The B.C. Court of Appeal stayed the conviction and upped the charge to aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

    In delving into the case, the top court will also look at whether the injury D.J.W. inflicted was a “wound” and if the blade he used on his son, known only as D.J., can be considered a “weapon,” said Marie-France Major, a partner at Ottawa’s Supreme Advocacy LLP.

    D.J.W. is seeking an acquittal, maintaining that the trial judge was wrong to convict him of criminal negligence, but right to acquit him of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, according to court documents.

    Counsel for D.J.W. will argue that the man’s actions were performed with “reasonable care” and without intent to harm his son.

    The Crown will argue that this is a case about child abuse, not D.J.W.’s freedom of religion or even about circumcision.

    “D.J. was not circumcised. He was disfigured,” the Crown’s factum reads.

    A decision from Friday’s case is not expected for some time.