At about 4am Sunday morning, a man allegedly picked up a steel city garbage can and put it through the front window at Wilde’s, a porn and sex-toys shop on Ottawa’s Bank St.
Richard Cormier, 53, was arrested and charged with mischief under $5,000 and released on a promise to appear.
On Aug 9, a bylaw officer visited Giacobbi to follow up on a complaint they received regarding the words he used on a storefront chalkboard sign: “Put a smile in your ass with our anal douches.”
In his initial interview with the Ottawa Sun, Cormier talked about his history as a victim of childhood abuse. Staff at Wilde’s posted that story, and more than 60 user-generated comments from the Sun’s website, in their window; Cormier says he feels that that was disrespectful because of his history of abuse.
“If people think I’m crusading against the use of words, that’s not what this is about. There’s already an image of child abuse and anal douches. People now think it’s a gay or homophobia thing. This is neither. It’s about human dignity. What he did was wrong. He exploited my abuse,” says Cormier, adding he only wanted to submit a complaint to the bylaw office about the word “in.”
Laura Hartley lives in an apartment above After Stonewall, and she saw the entire incident from her window. She was the one who called the police. She says she woke up hearing a man banging something against a window.
“I’m used to dealing with drunks. He didn’t seem drunk at all. He seemed very focused,” says Hartley.
Hartley says that once the man broke the window, she saw him stomping on the glass on the ground. When police arrived, three minutes after her phone call, he held out his hands for the police to arrest him.
Wilde’s owner Rob Giacobbi was asleep when he received the phone call after the window was broken. His partner took the call, came down to the store and saw Cormier released from the police car without being taken to the station.
Giacobbi says the incident has not cost him any business, but it has cost him a lot of money out of pocket. The window is going to cost a few thousand dollars to replace. The large plank covering the shattered front window cost him $500. Since his insurance has a big deductible, he says Wilde’s will have to pay for a sizable chunk of the damage.
“So, basically, the word ‘in’ cost me $3,000,” says Giacobbi.
“[Cormier] went to the press. He didn’t have to give his name. He didn’t have to do anything. Smashing windows is an illegal act. Everyone has issues. Not everyone says they go around smashing windows,” says Giacobbi.
Giacobbi says this incident has not scared him, and he still plans to fight.
“Bank Street is safe and a great area. The people who called the police proved to me it’s a safe area to live,” says Giacobbi.
Cormier says he feels the media coverage — and Wilde’s handmade signs about the bylaw kerfuffle — have exacerbated his mental health problems. While living on a modest disability pension, he says he has racked up an expensive cellphone bill reaching out for help.
Cormier says that before Sunday night, he reached out to the police several times for help.
As part of his release conditions, he was ordered to stay at least 500 metres away from Wilde’s — a condition that makes it illegal for him to return to his own Bank St apartment.