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Wilde’s case moved to mental health court

Richard Cormier says he plans to plead guilty

Richard Cormier leaves the Ottawa courthouse Monday after being in mental health court on mischief charges for bashing in Wilde's storefront. Credit: Neil McKinnon

The case of a man charged with mischief after a window was smashed at a Bank St sex shop will be processed in a mental health court.

Richard Cormier, 53, says he plans to plead guilty to mischief in connection with a steel garbage can that was put through Wilde’s storefront on Aug 16. The court ordered a psychological assessment, which must be completed by his Dec 6 court appearance.

In an interview with Xtra, Cormier says he has struggled with addiction and trauma for a large portion of his adult life. When he is sentenced, he hopes to get the mental health help he needs, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

The kerfuffle began last summer when Cormier walked by Wilde’s and saw a storefront chalkboard sign that said, “Put a smile in your ass with our anal douches.” He felt the wording was inappropriate and called the bylaw office. A bylaw officer visited owner Rob Giacobbi and told him the words in his sign were offensive to Bank St passersby. The bylaw officer asked Giacobbi to remove it. Instead of complying, Giacobbi made a Bristol board sign saying, “Censored by City of Ottawa anal bylaw” and taped it over the original sign.

At the same time, Cormier called the Ottawa Sun and told a reporter his thoughts about the sign and how it brought back memories of childhood abuse. The next day, Wilde’s staff posted the story and more than 60 user-generated comments from the Sun’s website on its storefront. A few days later, an embarrassed Cormier allegedly bashed in the window. He was charged with mischief at the scene.

Upon reflection, Cormier admits it was naive of him to call a reporter and give his full name for the story, as his words were published the next day. But he says the inability to process emotions and feelings of victimization comes from the abuse he suffered as a child. The Sun’s story and user comments posted on the storefront — using his name — triggered memories of violence, bullying and social humiliation. After visiting the hospital and being turned down for seeking help for mental health, he says he felt the only way to get the attention to stop was to get rid of the window display.

“What was done to me was not a high school bully act. It was an adult act. I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t find a reason to live. Then I realized I needed to take action. So at 2am, I went out when the bars were closed and nobody was around and took the window out,” says Cormier.

While Cormier says he did not commit a crime to get the mental health help he required, he says he did try to go to the hospital and was turned away upon asking for help.

“If the hospital would’ve treated me, we wouldn’t be sitting here having this discussion. I was dangerous to myself and to society. I need help around this anger. Violation is a terrible thing. I was laughed at on the streets I live around. I have no idea what kind of help I need. What do you give a woman who has been raped? What do you give a person who just came back from war? I have post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m sitting on a terrible amount of anger that has to be addressed. I get a disability pension for violence against me. I can’t pretend. I’ve been shut down for three months. I don’t want to feel anything,” says Cormier.

Until recently, Wilde’s front window was boarded up. Giacobbi declined comment, but last summer he told Xtra the window was going to cost him around $3,000 and “[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.”