Many years ago, I was informed of a news article in my hometown paper regarding a youth pastor who had been brought up on charges. A youth pastor who, when I was younger, had molested me for years. At the time, I was living in Toronto, but after reading the article reaching out to any other victims, I spent a few days struggling with the choice of whether or not to come forward. After much self reflection and consideration, I came to Peterborough, which is where I met Stacey Rutherford, the officer assigned to his case.
We met at the front lobby. She greeted me with a genuine sense of kindness and invited me into an interview room. Stacey made me feel supported and comfortable in telling my story and allowed for me to take my time. She was someone I quickly felt I could trust, something that was tremendously difficult for me considering all of the abuse I endured in the past leading up to this meeting.
When I completed my interview, he was arrested and charged. It didn’t end there. Stacey kept in contact with me, along with Christie Lee of Victim Services, who together, made me feel supported and cared for. For once, I was able to unburden myself and for once, I was believed. If it were anyone other than Stacey, I doubt if I would have felt comfortable enough to do what I did. She had a kindness, compassion and empathy that seems to be missing with many police officers.
It took years to finally see a trial date with one delay after another, but her support was unwavering and her dedication to me kept me focused on staying the course. It’s an awful feeling to be a victim, finally have the courage to come forward only to have proceedings be delayed for years at the hands of the offender. Stacey remained at my side throughout the entire process from start to finish, showing compassion right through to the end and after.
She spent a fair amount of time in this division of the Peterborough Police, but she also offered her services on countless occasions to attend Peterborough Pride festivities as well as youth LGBTQIA+ dances in uniform that had been threatened by anonymous members of the public. She did so with pride knowing that the LGBTQIA+ community deserved respect and protection from the ignorance of the community that was against them.
There are two kinds of police officers. The ones who do their job and go home and the ones who do their job, but go above and beyond their responsibilities and duty to help the members of the community who truly need their help, understanding and protection.
Stacey Rutherford recently retired and, in my opinion, definitely deserves this recognition. She is a tremendous person and was one of the most dedicated officers I have ever known. You changed my life and for that I will be forever grateful.