A woman who claimed to be Mayor Sharon Gaetz’s daughter and repeatedly harassed the mayor over many months was ordered to stay out of Chilliwack city limits by a provincial court judge on Monday.
Jennifer Alice Danielsen also made phone calls and sent letters and packages containing “rambling and delusional” writing to local doctor Kenneth Hirst, Gaetz’s husband Jim, and Fraser Valley Regional District Area H director Taryn Dixon, who is also a high school principal and is close friends with the mayor.
“There is a suggestion that Miss Danielsen doesn’t get it,” said Crown counsel Jim Barbour in arguing for the banishment from the city. “She considers the mayor to be her mother and going to city hall her right.”
Neither the mayor nor city hall have directly addressed the case up until now, but a spokesperson in the summer said the matter, which has gone on for more than a year, “has been stressful for everyone involved.”
That stress culminated on June 14 when Danielsen attended city hall, where bail conditions already forbade her from attending, only to tell the person at the front counter that “she wanted to turn herself in to the mayor for murder.”
This caused alarms to go off within city hall, even forcing Gaetz into a “chambers lockdown.”
Danielsen never directly threatened the mayor, her lawyer Jayse Reveley pointed out, but the disconcerting contacts over many months despite court orders to stop caused Gaetz serious concern.
It didn’t come up in court, but a likely further cause of stress is that Danielsen often signed her missives “Jenny,” while claiming to be her daughter. Gaetz’s real daughter, Jenna, died in a tragic scooter accident 15 years ago.
Danielsen had also been sending packages and making phone calls to Dr. Hirst over a period of months, leading to a charge of harassment against her. In one letter she told Hirst that he couldn’t kill babies, but she could.
After that, Dixon received numerous unwanted contacts and filed for and received a protection order from Danielsen.
Hirst told police he was concerned the contents of her messages to him exhibited serious mental health issues. The contents of packages sent to the mayor, including at least one to her home where she resides with her husband Jim, similarly elicited mental health concerns.
In June a psychological report was ordered, but she was deemed fit by the court.
In her defence, Reveley said Danielsen may not be certifiable but she has obsessive-compulsive issues along with acute psychosis that comes and goes. Indeed, on the day she was arrested at city hall, Reveley said she had been having paranoid episodes, went to the hospital where she was seen and discharged, then she walked to city hall.
“She attended city hall with the intent of getting arrested,” he said. “There is no suggestion Miss Danielsen is a physical danger to anybody.”
Reveley called the Crown’s position on having her banned from Chilliwack “overbroad” arguing that she has mental health issues that need addressing, and her sole support is her male partner who lives in an apartment in Chilliwack.
Crown argued that the stress and threat to the mayor and city hall staff warranted the no-go, what he called a “protection order” rather than “banishment.”
“A no-go to Chilliwack should not be onerous,” he argued.
In the end, Judge Gurmail Gill agreed. Prior to reading his decision, Danielsen addressed the court with a somewhat cryptic apology where she called the case “complicated.”
“I don’t feel totally understood,” she said. “It’s more a lack of family resources than a mental health issue.”
Danielsen has been in custody for 105 days, more than the 90 days asked for by the Crown. She was set to be released Monday afternoon subject to 18 months probation for the Hirst and Gaetz matters, and the protection order for Dixon.
In agreeing with Crown’s submissions on the no-go to Chilliwack, Gill dismissed the defence argument that most of the unwanted contacts were done via mail, something she could do from anywhere.
Gill said a ban on entering city limits should give a sense of personal safety and comfort to her victims.
“It at least removes the prospect of a personal confrontation,” he said.