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Wilde’s vandal has charges withdrawn

Crown calls window-smashing 'a completely random attack'

Richard Cormier, in a 2010 file photo. Credit: Neil McKinnon
A man who smashed a steel garbage can through the window of a Bank St sex shop last summer had his mischief charges withdrawn in a mental health court on May 9.

Crown lawyer Shawn Eagles released Richard Cormier, 54, because he attended counselling sessions and paid restitution. Eagles called the incident “a completely random attack.”

To date, Rob Giacobbi, owner of Wilde’s, says he has received no compensation for the $3,000 replacement cost to his storefront. And no one has told him a cheque is on the way, either.

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 Giacobbi and told him the words in his sign were offensive to Bank St passersby. The bylaw officer asked him to remove the sign.

 
Instead of complying, Giacobbi made a Bristol board sign that read, “Censored by City of Ottawa anal bylaw” and taped it over the original sign.

But Giacobbi questions how the Crown concluded that Cormier’s attack was random. He points to a recorded interview with Xtra last fall where Cormier confessed to planning the vandalism, saying that a story in the Ottawa Sun and user comments posted on the storefront — using Cormier’s name — triggered memories of violence, bullying and social humiliation. After the hospital turned him down for mental health help, he says, he felt the only way to get the attention to stop was to get rid of the window display.

“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,” Cormier said at the time.

Upon reflection, Giacobbi says, he does not understand why the Police Liaison Committee to the queer community did not visit him after the attack. He also says he is unclear about how that committee works.

“Maybe I’m the only uninformed person, but I thought the liaison committee is meant to be a go-between between the gay community and the police, especially when people are threatened. Or at least they want to show concern. I would understand if it was domestic abuse where nobody knew the victims. The media covered this all week. I kinda figured the liaison committee would have a handle on it. But I had to go to the police four days afterwards because I was coaxed by my friends — including my sister — to do so. I felt let down,” he says.

Giacobbi says it took him two months to snap out of questioning his personal safety. A customer attempted to cheer him up and stapled flags on his front window. For a long time, he simply left his storefront boarded up.

“I left the board there because I didn’t give a shit anymore,” he says. Eventually, he says, he forced himself to get over it, because he is a father and he needed to care for his son.

 
Michael Beaupre has known Giacobbi for 30 years. “I never saw him like that,” he says.