Friday, February 26, 2010

Kajouji case goes to U.S. prosecutor

Harold Albrecht MP
Lee Greenberg wrote an excellent update on the case of Nadia Kajouji, the Carlton University student who died by suicide in March 2008 after being counselled via the internet by an internet suicide predator.

The case of Nadia Kajouji has captured the concerns of her family, friends, university students and even Harold Albrecht, a Member of Parliament, who steered a motion through the Canadian parliament asking the Canadian government to clarify why Kajouji was not charged under section 241 (assisted suicide act) of Canada's criminal code.

The article states that:
Minnesota police have handed prosecutors their case against William Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old father and former nurse who tried to talk a Carleton student into hanging herself in front of a webcam while he watched.

Sgt. Paul Schnell, a spokesman for the St. Paul police department said that after nearly a year, the case has been submitted to their county prosecutor for a decision on charges.
Nadia Kajouji
The difficulty in prosecuting the Kajouji case is as Sgt. Schnell stated:
“It’s an unusual case,”

“There’s certainly been a range of issues. Part of this is forensic, part of this is assessing as many victims as possible, part of it is looking at jurisdictional issues and where this case is best charged.”
The article explains the Kajouji case as follows:
Police first identified Melchert-Dinkel last February as the man behind a series of disturbing online chats with Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old Carleton University student.

Police said the two met in an online suicide chat room, where Melchert-Dinkel was posing as a 20-something woman who, like Kajouji, was in the depths of depression.

They quickly formed a suicide pact, with Melchert-Dinkel playing the role of leader.

Through several chat sessions ­ transcripts of which were released by police and obtained by the Citizen ­ Melchert-Dinkel attempted to persuade Kajouji to hang herself while he watched.

Throughout the chat, he tried to ease her guilt and countered her ambivalence ­ all while offering hands-on advice.

He told her what type of store to go to to buy rope, and what length and diameter of rope would work best.

In the chat, he also counselled Kajouji to examine her apartment to find the best place from which to hang herself, adding that he could help with the camera placement at that time.

Kajouji did commit suicide in March 2008, when she jumped off a bridge into the Rideau River. Her body was not discovered for more than five weeks.
The Kajouji case has led to other questions:
Kajouji’s case first ignited a controversy over the role of university administrators and health officials, who knew about the young woman’s deteriorating mental health, but declined to tell her parents.

A second controversy still surrounds the decision by Ottawa police not to charge Melchert-Dinkel under Canada’s assisted suicide law, which is similar to Minnesota’s
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urged the Ottawa police to charge Melchert-Dinkel. Canada has extradition laws with the United States that would have allowed us to bring him to trial in Canada.

The article explains that there are more victims of Melchert-Dinkel:
Meanwhile, it appears what Schnell called an “exhaustive search” by U.S. law enforcement has netted more possible victims than originally suspected.

Schnell said before releasing the latest development to the public, police had been in touch with victim families in Canada, the United States and Britain.

Melchert-Dinkel was reportedly also under investigation in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, who hanged himself at his home in Coventry, England, in 2005.
Deborah Chevalier
Kajouji's mother has been consistently pushing for action on this case. The article stated:
Kajouji’s mother said Minnesota investigators called her Wednesday to let her know the case had been handed over to prosecutors.

“It’s definitely positive,” said Deborah Chevalier. “But this really hasn’t changed anything except I know it’s moving forward. I want to see the charges laid and have him have his day in court.”
It is now up to Paul Beaumaster to decide whether or not to prosecute:
It will now be up to Rice County attorney Paul Beaumaster to decide whether to proceed with charges under Minnesota’s assisted suicide statute, a rarely used piece of legislation that provides penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment or as much as $30,000 in fines for anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life.”
William Melchert-Dinkel
Melchert-Dinkel reacted to the charges:
Following his unusual public outing by police last February, when he was identified as the man behind the chats (but not charged), Melchert-Dinkel was stripped of his nursing license. He practiced as a Minnesota nurse for more than 15 years.

Lawyers at that hearing showed Melchert-Dinkel checked himself into hospital in January 2009, complaining of being “addicted” to suicide chat rooms.

“4 yrs suicide fetish offered medical advice for assisted suicide x2,” a hospital intake document states. “Posed as 28 yo female formed suicide pacts with some that he had no attention [sic] of following thru ­ wanted to be caretaker or nurturer ­ feels worthless, guilty.”

Hospital notes say he complained of “feeling guilty because of past and present advice to those on the Internet of how to end their lives.”

Over that time, he accumulated a disturbing disciplinary record for, among other things, beating, yelling and swearing at patients.

In one particularly haunting episode ­ one of literally dozens cited in his public disciplinary history ­ Melchert-Dinkel watched silently as a patient at a nursing home died.

“Licensee failed to document the residents condition or update physician as instructed,” the record states. “Resident MD’s condition continued to decline during the shift and Resident subsequently died en route to the hospital.”

Melchert-Dinkel has been diagnosed with adult learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adjustment reaction with anxiety, according to his nursing file.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that the law does not adequately protect vulnerable depressed people, like Nadia Kajouji, from predators like William Melchert-Dinkel. We have been asking that parliament change the assisted suicide law to specifically focus on charging people like Melchert-Dinkel.

Link to the article: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Kajouji+case+goes+prosecutor/2613562/story.html

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