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Kelowna woman files lawsuit after 17 years of alleged abuse

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Kelowna Women’s Shelter or the police
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Jeffrey Maclean is now facing a civil suit after having all criminal charges stayed due to court delays. (Jeffrey Maclean/ Facebook)

Warning: this story discusses graphic content that may be triggering or upsetting for some readers

After a 17-year relationship and numerous engagements with police and the courts for alleged domestic violence, Melanie Hatton has filed a lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court and is requesting payment for damages caused by what she claims are repeated incidents of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her partner.

The cycle of abuse allegedly begins

The alleged domestic violence began in 2006, one year into her relationship with then-boyfriend Jeffrey Maclean. In the lawsuit, Hatton claims that Maclean threw her against a refrigerator causing “significant fear and physical injury.” That incident, followed by an emotional apology was the catalyst to years of abuse, stated the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that one year later, while Hatton was pregnant with their first child, she locked Maclean out of their condo while he was angry and drunk and he broke down the locked door to gain access.

The lawsuit claims that over the next few years, Maclean consistently displayed “controlling, violent and intoxicated behaviour.”

During this time, Hatton endured a “pattern of abuse,” and had her life threatened numerous times, she claims. Hatton stated that Maclean would routinely verbally, sexually or physically abuse her and then leave for days to weeks at a time before returning and apologizing.

Hatton claims that Maclean would use his coercive abilities to manipulate her into accepting an apology, even when she knew that he had no intention of upholding his promises to change.

Police called for the first time

In 2009, Hatton called the police for the first time during what she claims, was particularly violent incident involving the couple’s then 13-month-old baby. Maclean was then immediately arrested and charged with assault. A protection order for Hatton and her child was put in place.

However, a few days later, Maclean allegedly broke the no-contact order by returning to the couple’s residence and apologizing with a cup of coffee for Hatton. Maclean then convinced Hatton to withdraw her police statement and request that all charges against him be dropped, according to the statement in the claim.

The lawsuit states that Maclean “manipulated [Hatton’s] vulnerabilities,” to avoid repercussions for his actions.

In 2013, Maclean was arrested again after an alleged incident of abuse. The suit says that once again, a protection order was put in place but all charges ended up being dropped after Hatton accepted Maclean’s apology.

The lawsuit alleges that several escalating instances involving sexual, emotional and physical abuse took place between 2013 and 2021.

The last straw

On November 26, 2021, Hatton claimed that she had locked herself in their home’s master bedroom to protect herself after Maclean began yelling and acting “belligerent.”

Hatton said that she attempted to diffuse the situation by reminding Maclean that their two children and a child’s friend were also at home.

Maclean allegedly kept yelling profanities, broke down the door and grabbed Hatton forcibly from the bed. Hatton claims that he then pushed her, causing her to fall and split her head on the corner of the bedside table and she began to bleed profusely.

The lawsuit alleges that he then dragged her across the floor and began to kick her until she became unconscious while threatening to kill her.

When Hatton regained consciousness, Maclean called 911. While speaking with the dispatcher, he allegedly said that Hatton was “bleeding like a pig.”

The lawsuit states that when the RCMP arrived on scene they found Hatton in the bathroom covered in blood, with Maclean standing over her “in an aggressive manner.”

Hatton was taken to the hospital where she received staples to close the wound in her head and treatment for a concussion. Maclean was arrested and charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm and one count of resisting or obstructing a peace officer. The police consider the incident to involve intimate partner violence.

All charges dropped due to semantics

A trial for the charge of assault was scheduled to begin approximately 21 months after the day of the incident.

However, one week before the start of the trial, Maclean submitted an application to the court requesting a stay of proceedings, stating that it took an unreasonably long time for the case to reach trial.

In Canada, all people are entitled to a verdict within 18 months of an arrest, barring extenuating circumstances, according to the Jordan decision.

READ MORE: Court delays result in clean slate for Kelowna man accused of assault

Since the time from the day of his arrest to the start of the trial exceeds 18 months, Maclean submitted an application requesting that the charges against him should be stayed, which means that he will not have a criminal record.

The judge ruled in favour of Maclean, as the delays were caused by the Crown, not the defence.

Both charges of assault causing bodily harm and resisting or obstructing a peace officer were judicially stayed, meaning that Maclean is no longer facing charges and the incident may never be revisited in criminal court.

Following the stay of proceedings, a trial in Family Court was held to determine custody of the children among other issues that had arisen in the wake of the couple’s separation.

Police officers and a social worker were called as witnesses in the family court matter and testified that Maclean had a history of violence and abuse.

After a few days in Kelowna court, the family matter was adjourned when Maclean and his lawyer requested that an out-of-court decision be reached between the two parties.

Hatton and the children continue to be protected by the no-contact order.

In addition to the alleged violence, Hatton alleges that Maclean slandered her reputation by spreading lies about her mental well-being over many years. This act of alleged defamation has reportedly impacted her ability to work with and retain clients.

Now, Hatton is requesting payment for damages in the civil lawsuit that has been filed in the Supreme Court of B.C.

She is also requesting payment for loss of income, costs, and damages relating to the concussion that she allegedly received in the November 2021 incident. Since the assault, Hatton has not been able to work and is requesting reimbursement for the costs of past healthcare services, the lawsuit states.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Victims of abuse around the world suffer in silence, some never find justice

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter said that many survivors of abuse never find justice through the court system as it can be very difficult to convict someone of a crime that happens in privacy. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Women’s Shelter is working to increase awareness and the need for action for the women and victims of abuse suffering in silence in Kelowna’s community.

READ MORE: Kelowna woman speaks up for survivors of sexual assault, hoping for justice

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Kelowna Women’s Shelter at 1(250)763-1040 or text at 1(236)970-0704. To learn more about programs and resources available, visit the Women’s Shelter website at kelownawomensshelter.com.

The Elizabeth Fry Society in Kelowna helps survivors of abuse and intimate partner violence navigate the judicial system and helps people access the help that they need. The organization is dedicated to helping and empowering all survivors.

If you are the victim of a crime or a traumatic event and in need of support, contact the Kelowna RCMP detachment and the Victim Services Unit at 1(250)470-6242.

READ MORE: New West Kelowna women’s shelter provides safe reprieve from abuse



Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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