There are a few serious and important subjects we tend to stay away from covering at the newspaper for a couple of good reasons.
Most tend to fall into the category of he-said-she-said issues, which, without a legal decision or some sort of regulatory order to write about, end up being cans of worms not worth opening.
I’m talking here of stories about consumer complaints against businesses, landlord-tenant fights, and domestic disputes.
These are all important topics in our community to be sure, and more media coverage would be great. They are, however, matters that require the utmost sensitivity to cover in the news as almost always one side in the disputes will claim bias or libel, and often one side will indeed likely try to libel the other. There is rarely a safe or responsible way to cover these subjects.
They also require resources (i.e., mostly time) that most news outlets simply don’t have.
On the latter of these three matters, however, we do under-report even where the information is public and available. I’m talking more specifically of what those familiar with the court system know as so-called “K” files. K files are the ubiquitous intimate partner violence cases that are not only common in our court system, but some days they dominate the docket.
The tragedy seen daily in our court system is that the devil so many fear, is the devil they know.
Much attention is paid to fear over random violence from drug-addicted miscreants on the streets, but rarely does that actually happen. Much more likely is the boyfriend or husband, sometimes a girlfriend or wife, who harasses, hits, hurts, threatens or otherwise criminally abuses an intimate partner.
I cover the courts as best as I can in Chilliwack, but I rarely delve into K files as more often than not, it’s just not in the public interest to report on one abusive partner hurting another, something that might further traumatize the victim.
But this is a serious issue in our society and warrants coverage so, well, this column is all I’ve got for now.
I check the court docket every day and recently I saw two names that stuck out to me, one a file I’m following, the other a man I’ve seen lambasted on social media.
Shane Travis Hughes is accused with the second degree murder of Christine Denham on Feb. 26. He is next due in court Aug. 27, and this is a K file. This is the extreme end of a K file, likely the prospective fear of all victims of intimate partner violence.
The other case I had my eye on was that of Kendall Muir, a high-risk sex offender with numerous K-file convictions on his record, a man that I’ve seen women in Chilliwack warn each other about on social media.
Muir, who has three aliases according to Court Services Online, Kendall Calderoni, Ken Calderoni, and Kenneth Muir, is a bad guy.
In Kamloops in 2016, Muir pleaded guilty to forcible confinement, sexual assault, assault with a weapon, possession of firearms, uttering threats to cause harm, property damage, and assault but took off before his sentencing hearing. A warrant was issued for his arrest. He has a history of offences across B.C. dating back to 1996.
A large number of those offences are K files. He isn’t just a run-of-the-mill criminal. He is likely a man that women should actively avoid.
On the docket that day with Hughes and Muir, I looked a little closer for K files, something I don’t have a habit of doing. I found nine due for court appearances that day alone.
In addition to Hughes and his alleged murder, other K-file charges that day alone: assault with a weapon, uttering threats, unlawful confinement, assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, uttering threats.
This is terrible stuff some women face every day from intimate partners.
We often fear the unknown, the devil we can’t see, but covering the courts it is clear that way, way too many women are more likely afraid of the devil they know.