The case of Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic

by Papaya on February 17, 2017 - 11:34pm

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder in the death of Victoria Stafford, an eight-year-old girl from Woodstock, Ontario (Allison Jones).  His former girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, also plead guilty to first degree murder in 2010 for the death of Victoria Stafford. Although she initially told the police that Michael killed the girl, but later stated during his trial she was the one who delivered the fatal blows with a hammer (Allison Jones).

During Rafferty’s trial, McClintic testified that Rafferty and herself are both drug addicts, and that she was instructed by Rafferty throughout the entire process. She claimed that she was told to kidnap a little girl, to purchase a hammer and garbage bags, and to help him clean up at the murder scene. Up on the completion of his trial, Michael Rafferty was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison (Allison Jones).

However, her credibility as a reliable witness was challenged by Rafferty’s defense council.  Rafferty’s defense council appealed the conviction to the Ontario Court of Appeal arguing that the lower court erred in finding Rafferty guilty in many ways, including failing to warn the jury not to relying on the testimony of McClintic because she is “a person of unsavory character, with a serious history of violence and lying” (Allison Jones). The defense also argued that the accusation of sexual assault is entirely dependent on the testimony of McClintic because the forensic evidence could not go as far as to establish the occurrence of sexual assault. As such, the presiding judge from the lower court should have warned the jury not to rely on McClintic’s testimony in the absence of substantial corroboration (Allison Jones).

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal citing the presiding judge did not err because warning jury in such circumstances is a matter of exercising discretion since judges are not legally obligated to issue such warnings (Allison Jones).

In my view, both convicted criminals in this case conformed with their stereotypical gender roles. As we discussed in class, male masculinity represents power, dominance and control. Michael Rafferty conformed to his gender role by exercising power, dominance and control over Terri-Lynne McClintic . He instructed her to kidnap a girl and sexually assaulted the little girl to satisfy his toxic masculinity.  Terri-Lynne McClintic also conformed to her stereotypical gender role by being submissive, caring, but exhibited unacceptable level of tolerance (she helped him to kidnap a girl for his sexual pleasure and killed her!!!) she helped Michael Rafferty to kidnap a girl, to purchase garbage bags, a hammer, and helped him to clean up at the murder scene.

Again, as we discussed in class, one of the stereotypical female gender role is exhibited as being devious. In this case, the defense council argued that the testimony of Terri-Lynne McClintic should not be considered credible because she is “a person of unsavory character, with a serious history of violence and lying”. Such statement makes me wonder whether the defense council is implying that Terri-Lynne McClintic has the potential to manipulating the jury because of her criminal history, or is it because she stepped out of her traditional/stereotypical gender role of being the “good girl” so that her testimony should be subjected to closer scrutiny.

In terms of the outcome of the trial, both offenders were sentenced to life in prison. As we discussed in class, crime itself does not have a gender and anyone is capable of committing any type of crime regardless of the gender of the perpetrator and how violent the crime might be. We also conclude that the stereotypical assumption that crimes committed by females are usually non-violent (theft, white-collar crime, defamation, and etc) but the involvement of Terri-Lynne McClintic in the kidnapping and brutal killing of an 8-year-old girl clearly proves such assumption to be wrong, especially considering other violent crimes committed by females (robbery, murder, kidnapping, arson, infanticide, and etc).

The discussions surrounding gender and crime is inevitably a subject which requires analysis from more than just a few perspectives.  The role of intersectionality and the complex dimension of society and it structure definitely poses additional difficulties in examining the relationship between gender and crime. But perhaps such complexity is what motivates criminologists and social scientist to explore the mysterious relationship between gender and crime. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jones, Allison. "Tori Stafford's Convicted Murderer Michael Rafferty Blames Terri-Lynne McClintic." Toronto Sun, 23 Oct. 2016, www.torontosun.com/2016/10/23/tori-staffords-convicted-murderer-michael-...

Jones, Allison. "Michael Rafferty’s Appeal in Tori Stafford Murder Dismissed | Globalnews.ca." Global News, 24 Oct. 2016, globalnews.ca/news/3021851/toronto-court-hears-michael-raffertys-appeal-in-victoria-stafford-murder/.