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Williams’ estranged wife rejects lawsuit’s accusations

Former Colonel Russell Williams is pictured during transfer of command of 8 Wing/CFB Trenton July 15, 2009. The one-time commander of the Trenton air base was sent to Kingston Penitentiary after four days of shocking testimony in a Belleville, Ont., court where he pleaded guilty to a series of burglaries, sex assaults and the brutal sex slayings of Marie-France Comeau , 37, who served under his command, and Jessica Lloyd, 27.

MCpl Tom Trainor/MCpl Tom Trainor

Mary Elizabeth Harriman, the estranged wife of convicted murderer Russell Williams, has filed a statement of defence rejecting all accusations against her in a lawsuit filed by the family of one of Mr. Williams' victims.

Jessica Lloyd was 27 when Mr. Williams held her hostage, sexually assaulted and murdered her in January, 2010. Her family filed a $4-million lawsuit against both Mr. Williams and Ms. Harriman in January. The lawsuit seeks general, special, aggravated and punitive damages for the infliction of pain and suffering, sexual assault, aggravated assault and battery.

Ms. Harriman's lawyer says she has filed other statements of defence in response to multiple lawsuits that name both Mr. Williams and Ms. Harriman as defendants.

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"She's a very strong person, thank God," Ms. Harriman's lawyer Mary Jane Binks said in an interview. "This is a total harassment of a completely innocent woman. And at the end of the day, the result will show that she's a totally innocent woman."

In the statement of defence filed in Ontario Superior Court this week, Ms. Harriman "expressly denies the plaintiffs are entitled to any of the relief sought" and requests the whole lawsuit be dismissed, with the Lloyds paying her legal bills. The statement seeks to characterize Ms. Harriman – associate executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada who is in the process of divorcing Mr. Williams – as an upstanding citizen who only became aware of her husband's crimes when he was arrested.

Ms. Harriman's "stature in the community is exemplary," the statement of claim reads. "Harriman is secure in her employment, has strong ties to the Ottawa community and there are no grounds to believe that she is going to abscond from the jurisdiction, nor otherwise remove assets, dispose of them, nor dissipate them."

The statement also disputes the lawsuit's claim that transferring ownership of the couple's house in Ottawa was "fraudulent" – it was an agreed-upon way to "to provide Harriman with financial security" during her husband's prosecution, the statement says, adding that "there is nothing untoward or suspicious about the transfer" of Mr. Williams' interest in the property.

The statement also indicates Ms. Harriman's ongoing attempts to get out from under the public scrutiny that's accompanied her estranged husband's notoriety. Her statement notes that "the Defendant Harriman will be moving for a sealing order … respecting these proceedings as they relate to the further particular details of her professional life, personal financial situation, and legal affairs."

Mr. Williams, once commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, pleaded guilty to the murders of Ms. Lloyd and Corporal Marie-France Comeau in October, 2010. He was also convicted of two sexual assaults and dozens of break-and-enters. He was sentenced to life in prison and stripped of his rank. Mike Pretsell, a Belleville lawyer representing the Lloyd family, declined to comment Friday. Ms. Binks said she's confident in her client's success. "All claims will be dismissed against her."

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