I had never been to court before. I wasn't sure what to expect and I definitely was feeling uneasy about seeing Wes and how that would leave me feeling. Almost an hour after he was scheduled to appear the big TV screen in the courtroom turned on and there was Wes, in an orange jumpsuit and his thick rimmed hipster glasses. He sat there quietly surrounded by a grey cement background. I had mentally prepared myself to look him in the eyes but was relieved that he was appearing via video. I wasn't sure what he could see of the courtroom but if he could see the last row of the otherwise empty courtroom he would've seen the reporter from the Province and me. I was sitting there with a slight smirk on my face writing every detail of what was being said between the prosecutor and his lawyer. There was not much information shared about charges and the matter was put over until Tuesday of next week. After court, Dan and I went upstairs to the registry and got the information for the upcoming charges - 14 in all. And I know of at least 6 others that could've been included in this set of charges but for one reason or another weren't. Some people admitted to being scammed by Wes Devries but didn't want to report it to the police for their own individual reasons - either too embarrassed or just wanting to leave it behind them. I completely understand that and there is definitely a part of me that wanted to crawl under a rock and hide from all of this. But I am just not the type of person that could let this go. Good or bad - I am 'all-in'.
Seeing Wes was oddly therapeutic for me. I had been nervous and on edge but seeing him confined to the small space of the correction centre's video room made me feel empowered. I helped put him there. No designer clothes. No stupid hats. No gourmet meals or expensive nights out on the town using money he had scammed from people. But the best part for me is knowing that he won't be able to get the 'rush' he says he gets from scamming while he is there. And even if it is just for a short period of time, he is off the street and unable to victimize any more people for awhile. I think that Wes being behind bars is the only way to stop him from scamming people. He has been to jail before for very similar crimes and has almost always gone right back to scamming as soon as he is out of jail. Obviously the punishments that he receives for his wrongs are not enough to deter him from doing wrong again. When he gets out this time (hopefully years from now) he will probably just change his name slightly so people can't find out what type of person he is right away and then continue his usual pattern of deceiving people for his own selfish gain.
On a positive note, I have met some very inspiring and amazing people on this journey. Ladies - your courage in coming forward and sharing your stories with me (and the police) has provided me with the strength to continue moving ahead with it all. You have been my support system and I never feel judged by any of you because I know that you understand how Wes uses his charms to manipulate people. We will all be smarter and stronger women because of this experience and you have each added to my life in your own unique way. And to the men who have come forward - I commend you. I realize that as hard as it is for a woman to admit that she has been scammed, it is doubly hard for a man to admit that. I know that there are many more men out there that Wes has scammed who haven't come forward and I would encourage them to rethink that. It is super important that people are made aware of the full scope of how many different ways Wes has to scam people. Anyone out there that has been scammed by Wes or knows someone that has been scammed by him I would still love to hear from you.
A special thank-you to Dan Fumano of The Province newspaper - without you and your coverage of this I don't think any of this would have moved forward the way it has. You have been absolutely amazing and your continued interest and pursuit of this story has helped make people aware of Wes Devries. Together we have all put a huge dent in his potential victim pool. And I would like to say thank-you to the VPD for all of their hard work to make sure that the case against Wes was thoroughly investigated and resulted in 14 charges against him. I know that the publicity didn't make that job any easier and I really appreciate all the long hours put forth. And to L.C. - your courage to speak out and let other women know about Wes was the main reason I came forward and shared my story. I really don't know what I would have done had I not known about Wes having scammed you. You are my hero and I don't think you get enough credit for your bravery. And in getting to know you as a friend since this incident your positive outlook on life is so inspiring. Even though we met under the worst of circumstances I am so happy to have you in my life.
Thank-you again to all the amazing people in my life who have supported me through this - I know there have definitely been times when you were concerned for my safety and my well-being and you still supported me. It has made this whole experience much easier to go through knowing how many people I have around me that love and support me.