2 February 2003
Dead Men Can't Cry ... Any More
The Judicial Manslaughter of Mark Edward Dexel
BC Father Blames Biased 'Family' Court for His Suicide
On Thursday, January 23, 2003, another BC father committed suicide. Mark Edward Dexel,
42, took the only exit some fathers can find when tortured by the most prejudicially
biased judicial system ever known to Canada.
In despair of never seeing his son again, he hung himself in a Kamloops motel.
The day before, Mark had told his girlfriend, and other friends among the local support
group, Parents of Broken Families, that he was going to Vancouver to visit his parents.
This unexpected tragedy has been a bitter blow to his girl, his family, and his friends
from Parents of Broken Families. It has shocked and outraged non-custodial parents groups
It is a haunting echo of the death of Darren White in Prince George two years ago.
On Friday, the RCMP found Mark's body with a note in which he blamed the judges and
lawyers in particular, and the injustice of the 'Family Court' system in general. On that
Wednesday, Mark had also told to a friend in the group that it was the one-year
anniversary since he had last seen his 3-year old son. Mark added that he would again have
to appear in court on January the 29th. His series of court appearances had spanned a full
year, and in all those appearances Mark had gained no relief at all from his acute pain at
being maliciously shut out of his son's life.
The stresses of the adversarial system of justice, the humiliation of his abuse in
court, and the helpless longing for his missing son combined to form a lethal depression
that led Mark to take his leave of the torture.
It's an experience many non-custodial parents are put through at the hands of the
divorce industry, but Mark's experience was particularly brutal and relentless.
Mark was aware of the introduction of Bill C-22, a projected legislation that makes the
family law system even more adversarial, and offers no hope for the future of split
families. He had hope that the 1998 bi-partisan joint Parliamentary report on Reform of
the Divorce Act might have offered a more equitable status to fathers in family court. The
betrayal of this promise by the Federal government was on his mind at the time he
despaired of the struggle.
Mark was a loving father of five children and had all reason to live. He was actively
involved in the lives of his children from previous relationships. He had amicable
arrangements with their mothers to see them.
He made his living running his own business building log furniture, and also as a
computer salesman. However, the stresses and time demands of the litigation forced him to
give up his work in the effort to to get his baby boy back into his life.
All who knew Mark described him as an affable man who frequently showed up in court to
support others. He was crushed by an irresponsible comment from a judge in a previous
hearing, who told Mark that any access was up to his ex-wife and her lawyer. Mark
considered that man an unscrupulous solicitor who had managed to have all his access
suspended. Even if the judge may have been legally allowed to make such a comment, it is a
reflection of how insensitive and out of touch with the needs of children and their
parents the court system really is. Nevertheless, Mark seemed to hold on to hope, and he
was still going back to court to have it rectified.
The rate of suicide increases 4-fold for fathers following separation or divorce. It
can be easily understood how this stressful experience was particularly devastating for
this devoted father, who had committed no crime and done no harm, and yet ...
Parents, grandparents and children rights advocates are blaming the government for
this, and all those other deaths by suicide that have occurred as a result of the refusal
to reform the present system.
Separated parents groups are bitter in the belief that if the proposed reforms had been
implemented in 1998, when they were defined and recommended by the Joint Senate Committees
report [whose title is] "For the Sake of the Children", Mark's life would not have been
wasted and five children would still be enjoying the love and care of their adoring
Furthermore, after the death of Darren White, the government has already been presented
with studies linking the adversarial system of justice to suicides by parents being abused
by it. It is inexcusable for the government not to stop this bloodshed and the subsequent
pain and irreparable loss to the children, especially since these tragedies are being
repeated daily across Canada.
Bill C-22 is understood among non-custodial parents as a fraud perpetrated by vested
interests within the government, and it is the source of great anger against the Minister
of Justice for his betrayal. On this tragic but predictably inevitable occasion, groups
across Canada may rally behind the grief experienced by Mark's family, his children and
friends, and express their renewed anger at the complicity of the Federal government in
perpetuating this inequity at law.
To Mr. Cauchon, Attorney General of Canada: We, as grandparents, parents, second wives
and children's rights organizations all across Canada say:
Stop playing politics with the hearts, souls and minds of our children, and stop
ruining their parents. Stop the divorce industry from exploiting our kids! Look to their
welfare; that is your duty.
For further information, please contact:
Todd Eckert (250) 554-1418 or 250-314-7722
President Parent and Child Advocacy Coalition
Past President of Parents Coalition of British Columbia
Member Parents of Broken Families
Spokesman for the Dexel family (by their permission), and
Personal Friend of the late Mark Edward Dexel
"We will miss you always."
I would urge you to drop a few lines to those responsible for marks demise.
The Federal Minister of Justice
The Honourable Martin Cauchon
The Premier of British Columbia
HON. GORDON CAMPBELL
HON. GEOFF PLANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Of British Columbia
And of course the Judges. I know the name of one.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia
223 - 455 Columbia Street,
Kamloops, B.C. V2C 6K4