Arsonist suing victim for harassment

Susan Eks testifies in court on Wednesday, February 25 in this sketch by Joanne Gervais.

Susan Eks, a convicted Kingston-area arsonist is renewing nearly a decade of legal battles with her victim by taking her to court for harassment, saying that her victim is using the legal system to continue to punish her for her crimes. She is asking for $100,000 in damages in the lawsuit being heard this week in a Kingston court.

Eks pleaded guilty in 2012 to Arson, Uttering Threats and several counts of Mischief following a 2011 incident which began with a verbal spat and ended with Eks coming perilously close to killing a young family.

On September 25, 2011, Kerri Tadeu was in her yard when Eks, her neighbour at that time, approached her belligerently, demanding that Tadeu “take (her) off that f*ing list!”

Confused, Tadeu inquired as to what list Eks was referring, and through the heated conversation surmised that it was a recently created Neighbourhood Watch list, which Tadeu had not created. Tadeu informed Eks of this, but Eks did not relent. The argument attracted the attention of neighbours, who approached the two and encouraged Eks to go home. In the midst of the argument, Eks threatened to kill Tadeu.

Tadeu called Kingston Police and Eks admitted to them that she had made the threats, but Eks was only given a warning by police after admitting that she had been drinking heavily and promising to stay away from the Tadeus. Later that night, Eks returned to the Tadeu home and, while the family slept inside, poured gasoline around the home and set it on fire. The same night, she also keyed the Tadeus’  and other neighbours’ vehicles. Fortunately, the fire did not penetrate the home and largely self-extinguished after the accelerant was consumed, causing superficial damage to the home and lawn.

Eks was arrested and eventually pled guilty to the arson, vandalism and uttering threats. She was given a relatively lenient sentence, three years’ probation and a restraining order, partly because she agreed to sell her home and move away from the neighbourhood.

Tadeu, who already suffered from psychological trauma as a result of a kidnapping and sexual assault at the age of 11, was further traumatized by the incident, and says that her life and relationships suffered greatly as a result of the renewed fears to her and her family’s lives.

In addition to the criminal case, Tadeu also took Eks to civil court, citing damages to the home as well as the psychological and emotional toll the incidents and subsequent proceedings had taken on her and her family. Those actions were eventually settled out of court.

The conclusion of the cases, the restraining order and Eks’ move away from the neighbourhood, offered Tadeu some respite, for a time. But in early 2016, shortly after the restraining order expired, Tadeu was shocked to see Eks back in her neighbourhood, parked in her vehicle only a few homes away from the Tadeu household and, Tadeu claims, staring at her intently. For her part, Eks claims that she was merely picking up a friend in the neighbourhood, denied the characterization that she was staring at Tadeu, and stated that with the restraining order concluded, she had every right to be in the neighbourhood.

Tadeu called police, who attended and contacted Eks, but no charges were laid. Instead, police officers suggested that Tadeu file for a peace bond against her, which she did, but that application was eventually dismissed when Tadeu missed a court date.

Eks claims that Tadeu has continued to harass her, and that the application for the peace bond is only one of the manners in which Tadeu has done so. Eks also cites the appearance of private investigators, hired by Tadeu, who allegedly spoke to neighbours about her and rifled through her garbage. And, Eks says, she was distressed to find that Tadeu had been canvassing the new neighbourhood she and her husband had moved into, warning them of Eks’ criminal past. She says that the stress of the court proceedings and the alleged harassment at a time when she was also dealing with a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer and a battle with substance abuse has been unbearable, and is filing the lawsuit in a bid to receive some compensation for the suffering, as well as to cause the alleged harassment to cease.

The court case is being heard over multiple days this week and we will follow up with the court’s decision when it becomes available.

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